Home Back Issues March 2011 Profiles of the 2011 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

Profiles of the 2011 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2011
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Article Index
Profiles of the 2011 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon
A workplace full of wowism
Serving up values and inspiration
Not workers but family
Sharing pain & gain
Success by everyday actions
The sky's the limit

 

0311_TecLabs_01
Steve Smith, president of Tec Labs, says he’s glad to be back on the 100 Best List after a two-year absence. “It’s such an important piece of how my brain works when it comes to running this company,” he says.
0311_TecLabs_02
Jessica Smith is one of 30 employees at Tec Labs, many of whom are in better spirits these days than during the tough times of 2008-09.
0311_TecLabs_03
Tec Labs employees Dustin Patterson, Kyle Knudtson, T.J. Weekly and Mike Hutchinson grab a game on the company's  basketball court.
0311_TecLabs_04
Among the benefits that Tec Labs employees like Mark Christensen enjoy: yearly profit-sharing bonuses, bagel meetings, and travel to tradeshows and conferences so employees can see how Tec Labs’ products are sold.
0311_TecLabs_05
Amy Byler leaves a comment about a colleague at the Tec Labs Appreciation Station. Employees post positive feedback about their co-workers at the station; monthly drawings award prizes to those nominated. // Photos by Eric Näslund
Like many companies, TEC LABS (NO. 21 BEST SMALL COMPANY) had a tough 2008 and 2009.

First came the recession, followed by the coldest, wettest summer in 15 years — meteorology that’s not very kind to a company whose flagship product is a salve for poison oak and ivy. Next, president and CEO Steve Smith lost his mother and went through a divorce.

Topping it all off, despite making the 100 Best list at least eight times before, Tec Labs failed to make the cut either year.

“I was very concerned,” says Smith, who founded Tec Labs in Albany with his father in 1977.  “When you’re already down, it was just one more kick.”

But at the beginning of 2010, Smith and his 30 employees decided the trench mentality had run its course. Realizing that the company’s strong culture needed to be unhooked from the owner, Smith set up a culture team. Small perks like monthly lunches that had been cut to save money were reinstated. And in the first quarter of 2010, the company paid employees back for an earlier 5% payroll cut.
Partly as a result, Tec Labs had a record 2010.

“You’ve got to take care of your horses first,” says Smith, alluding to his grandfather’s practice of always taking extra special care of his draft horses in the field.

The tribulations of the past couple years have underscored for Smith the important role that Tec Labs plays in the lives of its employees, not only as an employer, but as a place to develop lifelong friendships and become part of an extended family. When you create an environment like that, he says, employees enjoy their work and will go the extra mile — or 10 — in good times or bad.

“It’s like refining gold or silver,” Smith says. “You heat it up and that’s when all the impurities come out. But skim it off and what’s left is pure gold.”



 

Comments   

 
Gern Blenston
+1 #1 Great Photos!Gern Blenston 2011-03-12 10:23:03
Whoever this Eric Naslund guy is, his work just rocks! The one of Matt Lonsbury is just epic.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Closing the gap: Community colleges and workforce training

News
Thursday, March 27, 2014
03.27.14 thumb collegeBY MARY SPILDE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

Community college career, technical and workforce programs present an opportunity to bring business and education together as never before.


Read more...

Downtime with Ron Green

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

Ron Green became president and CEO of Oregon Pacific Bank in August 2013.


Read more...

How to handle the unexpected

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 28, 2014
03.28.14 thumb disasterBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.


Read more...

How to help your staff solve their own problems

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 21, 2014
03.21.14 thumb coxcoffeeTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

During a recent talk to HR Directors, I asked if they saw leaders trying to solve every problem, instead of delegating to and empowering staff. Every head nodded. Every single one.


Read more...

Fuel's gold

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY SOPHIA BENNETT

The coastal town of Coos Bay appears poised to land every economic development director’s dream: a single employer that will bring hundreds of family-wage jobs and millions in tax revenue. 


Read more...

Car ignition recalls and lean product design

Contributed Blogs
Friday, April 11, 2014
04.11.14 thumb gm-gettyTOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The auto industry is starting to share more costs across manufacturers for complex and challenging design work, like new transmission design, and certain new engine technologies. What we’re not yet seeing is wholesale outsourcing of “unavoidable waste” components to specialist companies.


Read more...

On fire

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

A self-proclaimed “chile head,” John Ford “grows, eats and does everything spicy.” 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS