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

College Conundrum

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

University and college tuition fees have been rising for more than a decade, while state funds for higher education have steadily declined.


Read more...

The Backstory

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014

In our cover story this month, Wendy Collie, CEO of New Seasons Market, and Kim Malek, owner of Salt & Straw, discuss their rapidly growing businesses and Portland’s red hot food scene. The conversation provides an interesting lens through which to explore trends in the grocery store and restaurant sectors.


Read more...

The 100 Best Companies survey is open

News
Friday, October 24, 2014

100-best-logo-2015 500pxw-1How does your workplace stack up against competitors? How can you improve workplace practices to help recruit and retain employees? Find out by taking our 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon survey!


Read more...

The Diaspora

October 2014
Thursday, September 25, 2014
BY LEE VAN DER VOO

Former newspaper reporters move into brand journalism.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon [VIDEO]

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-02 at 11.17.21 AMMore than 5,500 employees from 180 organizations throughout the state participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon project.


Read more...

College Hacker

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY KLINT FINLEY

Treehouse CEO Ryan Carson builds a 21st-century trade school.


Read more...

100 Best Nonprofits announced

News
Thursday, October 02, 2014

100NP14logo4WebOregon Business magazine has named the sixth annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon.


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