100 Best: In the family

100 Best: In the family

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Above: One of the perks of working for Ninkasi is great beer. Employees Tim Sanborn and Zoe Gadsby indulge.
Below: Head brewers Simon Sothras and Chad Osburn engage in a little swordfighting. “Overall, the beer industry is fun,” says Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi’s CEO.
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Above: Sam Colee enjoys a company beverage.
Below: After a hard day’s work, Ninkasi employees often gather
in the tasting room or on the patio. Clockwise from left: John Schlea, Jeff Long, Sam Colee, Ali Aasum, Mike Henning and Lori Perry.
// Photos by Eric Naslund
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Ninkasi Brewing

Location: Eugene

Rank: 22nd best medium company

Years on the list: 1

If a brewing company in Oregon that makes bold beers with names like Total Domination and Tricerahops, that sponsors the three-day Mountain Bike Oregon festival, and that has plans to install a rock-climbing wall,  bar and outdoor courtyard at its new office in Eugene sounds like a good place to work, that’s probably because it is. 

 “I love my job and really try to build that spirit here for everyone,” says Nikos Ridge, co-founder and CEO of Ninkasi Brewing Company. 

Part of the fun for Ninkasi’s 75 employees is spending time in a brewery, putting in the hours but also unwinding with a pint and some co-workers afterward. Employees also get to be part of brewer dinners and special events, such as a New Year’s party that Ninkasi sponsored, and the home brewers among the crew are also invited to learn from Ninkasi’s staff brewers. 

In addition to a new profit-sharing plan unveiled in late 2012, the company offers standard employee benefits as well as a smartphone — monthly service included — for everyone. 

Ninkasi has grown rapidly in its nearly seven years, and plans are to continue expanding. The brewer is shooting for 90,000 barrels this year, up from 67,000 in 2012, and total production capacity will grow from 100,000 currently to 290,000 in the near future. While there has been some concern about how that growth could change the working environment, Nikos says the company will continue doing right by its workers.

“As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to do even more positive things for our employees,” he says. “That’s important to us, because as a company, we’re nothing more than the collective output of our staff.”