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2012 100 Best Companies best practices

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Articles - March 2012
Friday, March 02, 2012

Pacific Continental Bank

From left: CEO Hal Brown, banking assistant Trina Marshall, and Mitch Hagstrom, president of the Greater Eugene market, take a card break.
The company 401(k) match at Pacific Continental Bank is based on the bank’s annual return on investments. So, for example, if the bank realizes a 1% return, it matches contributions with a buck.

In 2009, the now 40-year-old bank actually experienced a small loss, so there was no match that year. But rather than accept an offer of a 50-cent match no matter the annual return, employees opted to be positive about the bank’s future.

“They said, ‘No, we want to be on the upside,’” says Hal Brown, CEO.

Pacific Continental has since rebounded, but Brown says the example typifies the commitment of the bank’s roughly 250 employees. Even more illustrative, he adds, is that 155 of those employees have been with Pacific Continental more than five years.

The bank doesn’t have massage tables for tellers or company beer nights; what it does have, according to Brown, is a culture of respect and appreciation for everyone. When someone asked him recently if he’d had to play his CEO card, Brown had to chuckle.

“I don’t think anybody plays the boss card here,” he says. “There is a mutual respect that just permeates the whole company.”

Above: Daria Luckman tests Vernier's LabQuest Interface, one of the company's data collection units.
Below: The Vernier team gets in a bit of excercise and recreation together. (That's the boss, David Vernier,  in the blue T-shirt, at left.)
// Photos by Matthew D'Annunzio

Vernier Software and Technology

The employee spectrum at this educational technology company spans from Ph.D. scientists to laborers who pack cardboard boxes — and everything in between.

But according to company president David Vernier, such distinctions mean very little, setting the tone for what it’s like to work at Vernier.

“One of our strong suits is that nobody’s better than anybody else,” says Vernier, a former high school science teacher who founded the company in 1981.

At Vernier, that means that everyone works — and plays — together. On top of a slew of traditional benefits, the company, which develops data collection software and sensors for use in classrooms, hosts frequent parties, weekly volleyball, soccer and basketball games, and occasional movie days. Employees also get access to Vernier’s Sunriver condo for three days every year.

The company focuses plenty on sustainability initiatives, from its LEED-certified building to a smattering of fruit trees and blueberry bushes planted out back.

Vernier says creating such a work environment helps foster a workforce that’s healthy, happy and in it for the long haul.

“We don’t lose a lot of people,” he says.



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