The 2016 100 Best Companies to Work For

Edited by Kevyn Burger

Why did they win? The employees know!

One of our most exciting contests each year is our competition to select the 100 Best Companies to Work For. We are beseeched year-round by companies who seek to claim this important distinction. Of course it is not easy to choose “The Best” so we left that decision to the true experts: the employees themselves. We created a questionnaire about things that are important to them — asking about workplace culture, benefits, perks and promotion of a quality work/life balance. Employees answered the survey anonymously, and a tabulation of their responses yielded the winners. We wanted to give the companies a voice as well, so in the following pages all of the descriptions have been written by the companies, except where noted. Congratulations to them all!

Note: Given our magazine’s focus on small and midsize companies, for this project we’ve defined a small company as one that has up to 35 employees, a medium one as 36 to 99 employees, and a large company as 100 or more employees. Category size is based on a company’s employees within Minnesota.

The List
Best in Class: Small Company Awards
Best in Class: Midsize Company Awards
Best in Class: Large Company Awards
The 100 Best Perception Gap

The List

The 100 Best Companies to Work For: Small (1-35 employees) company descriptions in their words

ACI Asphalt & Concrete Inc.
Maple Grove
ACI has a “Team” environment, empowers its employees and seeks to impact both the company and customers. ACI promotes from within, with an atmosphere of professional fun that ALWAYS gets the job done the first time.

aCOUPLEofGURUS is an IT company with a passion for creating Wildly Happy Clients. Our secret is to start with a Wildly Happy Team! This group of talented technology professionals serve as the IT department for small businesses all over the Twin Cities, freeing entrepreneurs to focus on their passion.

AK Material Handling Systems
Maple Grove
Provider of custom engineered industrial storage solutions, including warehouse layout and design, in-stock pallet rack and shelving and industrial systems. AK is a great place to work because of the positivity that pervades the company culture and the fact that selling our product is just part of the bigger picture of treating employees well and contributing to the larger community.

All In One Accounting Inc.
At All In One Accounting Inc., we offer an unrivaled method to customized, documented accounting solutions. We take clients from financial chaos to business clarity. Employees enjoy flexibility in an evolving, fast-paced work environment where their work makes a difference. We grow together. We build together. We make change together.

Ambrion Inc.
Since 1999, Ambrion’s team has been passionate about striking the perfect match between outstanding accounting and finance professionals, and the Twin Cities’ top employers. We love working at Ambrion because our team is exceptional and fun!  We get to make hiring easier and faster with better overall results.

App Data Room
App Data Room is the enterprise mobile sales-enablement platform that allows business to build, brand and manage a professional mobile app for sales presentations and engagement. Our leadership, customer-focused team and work-hard, play-hard culture make us a best company to work for in Minnesota.

Art Partners Group LLC
St. Louis Park
At art consulting and space branding company Art Partners Group, employees get to come to work and be creative every day. Donuts at our Monday morning production meetings paired with birthday celebrations at our neighborhood brewery and an employee art display add to the positive vibe at APG and keep us inspired.

Art Unlimited
Art Unlimited puts its team first, in an environment filled with fun and laughter. Education, encouragement and opportunity abound for Art Unlimited employees. Northwoods located, we enjoy fresh air, wildlife and no traffic. Our agile website marketing company allows our team and community growth for the future.

Beehive PR
St. Paul
Beehive’s culture inspires well-being, creativity and growth. Our team plays to our strengths and brings positive energy to everything we do. We create lasting connections based on trust and respect. This helps us live our purpose: to use the power of communication to build better businesses for a better world.

Bellmont Partners
Partnership defines both Bellmont Partners’ client-centric approach and its workplace culture. Each member of the highly creative team contributes to the PR agency’s success, serving clients and learning and growing through collaboration, transparency and shared respect. Perks include flexible schedules and work locations, wellness and technology stipends, and plenty of food.

Campus Media Group Inc.
Campus Media Group is a national media and marketing agency that helps today’s top brands reach college students. Core to the agency’s success is its culture of engaging employees on everything from policies to its recent office relocation. Employee benefits include individualized training, PTO for volunteering, summer hours and an onsite fitness center.

Celarity is a Twin Cities staffing agency that specializes in placing creative, marketing and technical talent with the area’s most desirable employers since 1993. With its unique approach and expert responsiveness, Celarity is passionate about its mission of Creating Happy Careers for its employees, consultants and clients.

Channel Partners Capital LLC
Maple Grove
Channel Partners Capital (CPC) is a leading provider of small business working capital loans within the equipment leasing and financing market. CPC is a Best Company to Work For because we’ve hired a talented team that respects and believes in our company culture and core values of camaraderie, respect, innovation, growth, ease and transparency.

For 20 years, we have given our employees and clients alike a calming oasis in the world of digital. In a field crowded with chaos, confusion and change, we work together to deliver the promises that digital provides — meaning, connection and knowledge. And we do so with egos and attitude fully in check.

DAYTA Marketing
Waite Park
DAYTA is made up of marketing professionals with different experiences, talents and education working together to redefine marketing partnerships. We coach and mentor to help our team members reach their true potential. Our work enhances our lives, creates friendships, provides laughter and encourages family…that’s the #DAYTALife.

Direct Benefits Inc.
St. Paul
Direct Benefits is a managing general agency that private-labels dental and vision insurance plans.  With our amazing staff, we are in it for the “little people” of America. We do this by providing individuals and small businesses with the same or better insurance products as Fortune 500 employers.  Over-the-top responsive service, extreme generosity, always fun and a hard-working attitude describe us.

We provide IT consulting and staffing services for our clients’ challenging IT projects. Place People First is our mission and the key to our success. We “wag our tails” because of our great wellness program, generous benefits, supportive and cool work environment and awesome team who make work fun.

Evantage Consulting
Evantage is a business consultancy that helps organizations capitalize on change and how they interact with their customers. Our mission is to partner with our clients and community to affect meaningful change. We value intellectual curiosity, candor, flexibility, humor and joy.  At Evantage, we share a desire to build a better work environment, a better company and a better community together.

Fendler Patterson Construction Inc.
Fendler Patterson Construction is a 50-year-old company that prides itself on integrity and respect for our clients and employees. Our stable and relaxed working environment provides the foundation for everyone to work strongly as a team. Each individual is equally respected, creating honest, lasting relationships with each employee.

Finished Basement Company
St. Louis Park
At Finished Basement Company, we design and build basements — great basements! We surround ourselves with talented, ambitious, and creative people who get things done. The culture of our office is fun, pet-friendly, team-orientated and collaborative, allowing for employees to grow both as individuals and as a team.

Flint Group
Flint Group helps clients build meaningful connections through creative, actionable marketing communication solutions. Guided by our values and a passion for client growth and success, we’re proving our refreshing team approach leads to transformative ideas.

Fusion Hill
Fusion Hill’s unique blend of research, strategy and creative encourages employees to thrive in a collaborative, innovative and fun atmosphere. Its boutique size, inspirational leadership team and mix of clients — most of them Fortune 100 — provide employees continuous opportunities for professional and personal growth.

George Konik Associates Inc.
GKA has been a leader in the technical recruiting industry for 42 years, providing the fastest and easiest link between Minnesota’s employees and employers. Our combination of teamwork, culture and authentically caring for each employee in a family-oriented environment has made GKA a great place to work.

Goff Public
St. Paul
Goff Public’s success is the result of a recipe that has helped us thrive for 50 years: put clients first, treat employees well and look to the future. Our work is rewarding; our team cares for and supports each other; and our benefits are unmatched.

Gruen Agency
With a view of the Minneapolis skyline from a collaborative, bright office, employees at the Gruen Agency emanate creativity and teamwork. Our digital marketing agency believes in meaningful relationships with our clients and a culture that breeds integrity. Trust and transparency are at the heart of everything we do.

Harbinger Partners Inc.
St. Paul
Harbinger Partners is an IT consulting and staffing company. One of Harbinger’s main goals is to delight all employees, consultants and clients. If our consultants are happy and fulfilled in their work, they will pass that onto their clients and create delighted clients. It seems to be working!

IntrinXec Management Inc.
Expert provider of all things association management, including but not limited to: administrative, creative, event, finance, marketing, membership and strategy services. We serve a variety of nonprofit and professional/trade organizations in multiple industries. We are a top place to work because we love what we do and have fun doing it!

Irish Titan
St. Louis Park
Irish Titan is a full-service digital agency specializing in eCommerce, complex websites and digital strategy. Our Titans love working here because of benefits like unlimited vacation and a results-oriented work environment (ROWE). Plus we’re closed on two very important days — St. Patrick’s Day and The Day After.

iSpace Furniture
There’s no place like iSpace. We work in a high-energy, ever-evolving showroom on the edge of downtown Minneapolis. We get to be creative daily, helping customers build amazing workspaces. But, most importantly, we are a team: authentic, talented professionals supporting each other — and having fun in the process!

KorTerra is the damage prevention industry’s most trusted partner, providing quality and comprehensive One Call ticket management software solutions. KorTerra has a respectable group of employees working together in an encouraging environment. The staff is team-oriented, creating a positive workplace that focuses on the development of each staff member.

As a branding and design agency, we’re brimming with creative spirits. But our strict check-your-ego-at-the-door policy means we also genuinely like each other. Couple that with a spectacular new office, generous benefits and fantastic clients, and it’s no wonder we’re inspired to produce killer work every day.

Livefront Inc.
Livefront helps companies create remarkable mobile apps, products and experiences. We are a tight-knit team of expert designers and developers: we are leaders in our field and its future; and we love what we do. But the best part? We really like each other. (Seriously. We even vacation together).

Maccabee Public Relations

Media Minefield
Media Minefield is a news-driven Public Relations agency on a mission to change the perception of the industry nationwide. We believe in teamwork, work-life balance and being naturally quirky, which makes Media Minefield an exciting, engaging and effective company to work for or work with.

Modacto, a Salesforce Consulting Partner, serves growth-minded companies. It assists its customers to use the power of the Salesforce platform to do what they do, but better. At Modacto, employees’ voices are heard, talents are recognized and successes are rewarded. Modacto is committed to innovation, best practices and community involvement.

NordicClick is a digital marketing agency located on Lake Minnetonka… with a boat! The culture here is that of hard work with a laid-back twist and leadership which actively promotes the value of work/life balance. A fast-paced environment experiencing healthy growth, NordicClick is a highly challenging and rewarding workplace.

St. Paul
Trusted and relied upon by 16,000 Minnesota and Western Wisconsin Realtors, the 22 employees of NorthstarMLS provide a real estate market that processed over $17.97 billion in transaction volume in 2015. How great is that? Every one of us works with and for each other to make our customers successful.

Prevolv Inc.
St. Paul
Prevolv helps companies create great office environments and recognizes that dedicated team members are critical to its success. Focusing on work/life balance is key. Flexibility to work from home, monthly company outings and community volunteering are just a few examples of how Prevolv creates an enthusiastic and positive work environment.

REACH Sports Marketing Group Inc.
Eden Prairie
REACH is a digital signage software company with 3,000+ partners. Two words describe what it’s like to work at REACH: impact and laughter. Every person has an impact! It’s a total team effort at REACH. We also love laughter at REACH! We love to laugh and have fun together!

Rêve Consulting
Rêve Consulting is one of the few service design consultancies in Minnesota. How we truly stand out, however, is our innovative business model. We share a mission and space with our nonprofit, Rêve Academy, to help both clients and the community innovate and grow.

RightSource Compliance
The RightSource team has a deep and true connection with coworkers and the company mission. Unified by a shared dedication to our vision of creating better living in the real estate industry, we are talented professionals committed to better consulting, better results and better living for our clients, community and team.

SkyWater Search Partners
SkyWater is a Minnetonka-based search firm that prides itself on culture among its 30 employees. In an industry that sometimes lacks a moral compass, through their hiring and training process, SkyWater strives for an environment that is not just best-in-class, but one where every recruiter supports their co-workers in success.

Springboard for the Arts
St. Paul
Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization run by and for artists. We encourage employees’ artistic goals, as well as their professional development. Together we cultivate vibrant communities, in Minnesota and nationally, by connecting artists with the resources they need to make a living and a life.

Spyder Trap
We’re a digital-only marketing firm made up of curious and talented developers, designers, content strategists, search engine optimization professionals and marketers. Those talented people are what make Spyder Trap the best company to work for. Our cool space, collaborative environment, unique events, comprehensive benefits and award-winning projects are all employee-driven.

Summit Information Resources
Summit Information Resources is a network reseller whose employees are its greatest asset. We enjoy working for Summit, as it provides a comfortable, supportive and ethical environment in which we can grow. We hire top performers who are excited about working on a team.

The Fax Guys
We’re The Fax Guys and we LOVE our jobs! Why? One word: Culture. Our culture isn’t trendy — it’s genuine and family-like. Like families, we work hard together and play hard together.  We go the extra mile for our customers and show them our love too!

The Pomerleau Team
Maple Grove
We’re not your ordinary real estate team. The Pomerleau Team has a culture of continuous improvement designed to challenge, foster professional development and empower everyone to grow and learn from one another. We constantly invest in our employees because we believe you can’t have a great business without extraordinary people.

The Stable
The Stable is a people company cleverly disguised as a sales and business development agency. A collection of carefully curated professional kids, we have a passion to grow together and add real meaning and value for our clients.Like kids, fun drives success for us — not the other way around.

New Ulm
Thriveon’s managed IT services are delivered by people who thrive in an atmosphere where their input is valued, their professional development supported and where success is measured by client satisfaction. While career advancement is important to them, they appreciate flexibility and the implications that a family-friendly culture has on their work-life balance.

TopRank Marketing
From the editor: Specializing in online marketing, TopRank Marketing helps businesses determine client or customer needs, and plan and execute marketing strategy and processes accordingly.

UrbanWorks Architecture LLC
UrbanWorks Architecture creates beautiful places for people to live, work and enjoy. Our team enjoys a collaborative environment, approachable leadership and flexible schedules, with perks like bicycle storage for our commuters on two wheels, and a family table where we take our lunches together.

Valtira LLC
We “Do Work That Matters.” We focus on the hard work of turning highly technical, complicated problems into simple, elegant solutions. We build web-based applications that deliver game-changing results. We’re collaborative, responsive and committed to doing the right thing for our employees and our clients.

West Monroe Partners
A business and technology consulting firm, we partner with clients to help generate revenue, reduce costs and transform businesses. Our People First commitment makes West Monroe the best company to work for, combining personal and professional growth and a commitment to doing good in the world and communities.

The 100 Best Companies to Work For: Midsize (36-99 employees) company descriptions in their words

AbeTech is a premium systems integrator of supply chain automation and inventory management systems. Our spot on the list is attributed to our amazing staff, our winning culture and our ability to let individuals grow professionally. AbeTech is flourishing and good people want to be a part of the fun!

Ackmann & Dickenson
Ackmann & Dickenson is the best company to work for because our leadership team has created an unbeatable culture of mutual respect, technology and fun. Located in the North Loop, with perks like unlimited PTO, a dog-friendly office, grill-out Fridays, bowling and kickball leagues, what’s not to love?

Aeritae Consulting Group
St. Paul
Aeritae is a top-rated IT consulting firm driving better business through IT strategy, technology, innovation and performance. Our unique company culture allows high performers to be themselves, deliver with integrity and grow in their skill sets while still benefiting from the close camaraderie and support of the team.

AgMotion Inc.
AgMotion Inc. is an agri-business holding company, located downtown Minneapolis. A culture built on respect, genuine and approachable leadership, a relaxed yet high-performing environment, great benefits and commitment to positive work-life balance are part of what makes AgMotion the best company to work for.

Antenna Inc.
Antenna is a unique community of marketers. We’re a consulting firm designed to support the new world of work. We are focused on sharing the tools our consultants need to succeed: training, peer learning and unique events give our people opportunities to improve their skills and grow their value, together.

Aveyron Homes Inc.
Aveyron Homes provides support services to people with varied abilities: personal care attendants, in-home counselors and residential placements. We love our jobs because we make a difference everyday…not to a faceless business, but to people! As a part of Aveyron, you are a part of our family.

Award Staffing
Award Staffing is a premier, Minnesota-based recruitment services company.  Over 50 internal employees and 5,000 associates provide the foundation of what has become one of Minnesota’s best companies to work for. Community service, accountability and having fun are just a few of the guiding principles that define our culture.

brightpeak financial
We are brightpeak financial. Mediocracy is not in our DNA. We are an organization filled with incredible people who are bold, talented and passionate. We are a digital business in the insurance industry and we are here to change the game. We are here to change lives. Best. Job. Ever.

We are an ever-growing team that welcomes anthropologists, number crunchers, creatives, softball players, happy hour aficionados and PR professionals alike. We redefine talent through passionate individuals from varying backgrounds. We are confident and ambitious. And our home reflects who we are: connected, bold, open and ever-changing.

Burns & McDonnell
Burns & McDonnell has been a tremendous growth story in Minnesota. This growth was fueled by a belief that if we did other things right, we’d have a great workplace where people want to build a career. Great clients and interesting work keeps our employee-owners motivated to succeed.

Cyber Advisors
Maple Grove
From the editor: Cyber Advisors is an IT solution provider based in Maple Grove. It got its start offering hardware, software and other IT services, but today it focuses on network infrastructure, mitigating network problems and therefore boosting employee productivity.

Fafinski Mark & Johnson
Eden Prairie
Fafinski Mark & Johnson is a full-service commercial law firm with around 50 employees, headquartered in Eden Prairie. FMJ has been on the ‘100 Best’ list for five consecutive years because of its supportive work environment in which everybody wants to see their colleagues succeed and thrive.

Hanratty & Associates
Hanratty is a dynamic group of insurance professionals striving to make a real difference in the lives of those we serve. We foster a unique culture based on serving others through charitable giving, volunteering time and hosting fundraising events for local nonprofits. From our clients to our community and even our peers, we are committed to touching lives.

IBI Data
Founded in 1986, IBI Data performs marketing services for major food manufacturers. We strive to provide a flexible and supportive environment and empower individuals to shape a workplace they are proud of.

Intertech delivers world-class software development consulting and training. From a three month sabbatical for every seven years of service, to a flexible work-from-home policy to cutting edge projects that challenge and develop talent, Intertech is committed to creating an outstanding environment for employees.

KNOCK inc.
KNOCK is an independent creative agency with a limitless spirit: Our respect for diversity is inherent in our DNA — and collaboration on all levels is intuitive to our culture. Our open environment ensures optimal inventiveness, producing award-winning epic ideas that create love for brands by connecting virtual to real experiences.

Marcus Construction Inc.
Marcus Construction, founded in 1956, is a thought leader in agricultural and commercial construction. We are recognized and we didn’t get here by being average. Our brand and name are reputable as experts in agricultural and commercial construction. Our employees demand perfection and continually push the envelope on how to grow and produce better results. We are a team that works hard and plays hard and we enjoy each other’s company and this enhances our team approach to every project. We refuse to produce anything less than perfect.

Mytech Partners Inc.
New Brighton
Mytech Partners is your local managed IT services provider. We are dedicated to the success and happiness of our employees, customers, and communities. We have placed an emphasis on company culture which has made a difference in how we hire, and how we interact with each other.

Nina Hale Inc.
We’re a forward-thinking digital marketing agency that delivers unparalleled results for global brands and provides unmatched employee perks (100% employee-ownership, trips to MN State Fair, canoeing at the founder’s cabin). Ultimately, it’s our value-driven, employee-oriented culture that fosters talent, collaboration and success — and makes NHI a Best Company to Work For.

Rapid Packaging
Rapid Packaging is the Midwest’s preferred source for packaging materials, equipment and service. We continually strive to be the place people want to work for and do business with. We treat all of our team members like they make a difference because in reality, they make ALL the difference.

Red Circle
Red Circle is an advertising agency with 15 years of experience in the hospitality and gaming industries. We craft effective, authentic messaging through targeted planning, sharp communication and smart execution. Our talented staff has cultivated a casual — yet focused — office atmosphere, where hard work and fun times coexist.

Saturn Systems
Saturn Systems Software Engineering provides highly skilled software developers for custom projects and staff augmentation. With support from the right tools and experienced management, employees are given the responsibility and latitude to succeed. The benefits are great, but the challenges and rewards ultimately make Saturn a great place to work. 

Stoneridge Software
Stoneridge Software is a Gold Certified Enterprise Resource Planning Partner which sells and implements Microsoft Dynamics AX, NAV and CRM for mid-market and large businesses. What makes Stoneridge a best company to work for? It’s our emphasis on constant learning, our collaborative culture, and the company values we really do live by every day. We respect each other as team members and appreciate the talents and personalities they bring to not only our organization, but to our clients as well.

The 100 Best Companies to Work For: Large (100+ employees) company descriptions in their words

Avionté is a high growth company that offers a flexible, fun work environment with a work-hard, play-hard philosophy. With top-notch benefits, a family-like company culture and numerous opportunities for advancement, Avionté is a Best Company to Work For because the company puts client and employee happiness at the forefront.

CBIZ delivers top-level financial and employee business solutions while providing national-caliber expertise combined with highly personalized service delivered at the local level. Our employees strive to be the best in their field and create lasting connections with our clients.

Central Boiler Inc.
Two great companies under one (very large) roof: Central Boiler, North America’s largest manufacturer of outdoor furnaces, and Altoz, makers of a premium line of zero-turn mowers. With a culture built on a positive, safe working environment, this family-owned manufacturing company offers its employees industry-leading wages and benefits, and an annual profit-sharing bonus.

Central Minnesota Credit Union
A friendly and federally insured credit union centered on our employees, who strive to achieve personal and professional successes.

Innovative Office Solutions
Innovative Office Solutions delivers supplies to make your business run, and designs interior spaces that turn productivity and morale up to ten. Being immersed in a workplace where relationships matter and the team feels empowered to succeed, our people and culture are the secret sauce that makes working at Innovative great!

Knute Nelson
Knute Nelson, based in Alexandria, is a nonprofit, faith-based organization. Its mission of “enriching lives” is demonstrated by its innovation and commitment to quality, affordable senior housing and health care for aging adults, with services provided to 29+ counties in the West Central Minnesota region.

Lurie LLP
In 1940, a group of aspiring entrepreneurs created — opportunity. They broke ground on a CPA and Advisory firm with its foundation in thinking differently and leading fearlessly. Seventy-six years later, that same drive, passion and entrepreneurial spirit fuels our employees to provide innovative advice and world-class service.

St. Cloud
Marco is a high-performing technology company with a track record for creating amazing careers for our employees. We’ve created a fun, flexible and family-friendly culture that empowers our employees to dream bigger, reach further and feel more fulfilled. That translates to off-the-charts growth and a better customer service experience.

MG McGrath Inc.
Our team consists of many long-time leaders and new additions who drive our company to make the impossible a reality every day — and to have fun while doing it. With their skill, ingenuity, passion and pride, it is our people and culture that make MG McGrath a great place to work.

Preferred Credit Inc.
St. Cloud
Preferred Credit is a relationship-driven consumer finance company in St. Cloud that provides honest, superior service with a commitment to operational excellence to the in-home sales industry nationwide. We believe our growth and stability is the result of the trust we place in the partnerships with our clients and our employees.

As the leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services to the middle market, it’s essential that RSM employs the best to guide our clients through their business challenges. Our professionals can pursue their unique individual passions in a flexible atmosphere while they continue to grow professionally and passionately serve our clients.

SelectAccount is proud to celebrate the people who make us who we are, a nationally recognized Top 10 Health Savings Account Administrator which consistently exceeds customers’ expectations. Our team’s dedication to service and making health care easy is why we are one of the Best Companies to Work For.

Sport Ngin
Sport Ngin is the sum of its people. Imaginative. Driven. But never at the expense of being human. Or irreverent (when’s the last time somebody tore through your office on a dirt bike?). Every day offers a challenge, but every challenge is rewarded by growth as you rise to meet it.

Transport America
Transport America is one of North America’s largest trucking firms, delivering freight for some of America’s most respected companies. By empowering its drivers, putting safety first and adopting innovative new technologies, Transport America is changing the trucking industry, while increasing the safe delivery and integrity of its customers’ loads.

Virtual Radiologic (vRad)
Eden Prairie
What sets vRad apart is simple — our Code of Success: Connect. Collaborate. Act. Not because it is mandated. Rather because it’s a set of aspirations willingly embraced. We’re not only encouraged to connect and collaborate with our peers: we’re reminded that practicing excellent patient care starts with us. Everyday.

Best in Class: Small Company Awards


SuperClean Brands LLC
(2x winner)

We do a lot of things right as a business. We have quarterly events, celebrate wins and have amazing Christmas parties. We do employee surveys with Employee Strategies to get feedback on how we’re doing as a company. We’re honored our employees think enough of us to secure the nomination.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: The team at SuperClean Brands makes and markets products that eliminate dirt, grime and grease.
They celebrate by getting together when they’re all cleaned up.

Based in Eagan, SuperClean Brands offers perks and incentives year round, treating employees to quarterly outings like winery tours and Wild hockey games.

But the annual holiday party is the event that tops the list for many on the team. Described by one employee as “a first class event,” the dressy night out doesn’t end after the gourmet dinner.

“Every employee stays overnight. People wouldn’t do that if they didn’t love being together, and that’s the SuperClean family difference,” reports one employee.

SuperClean managers are known to spontaneously reward outstanding work with gifts, and they offer cash incentives for performance outcomes.

Beyond the tangibles, employees value the company’s on-the-job support and mentoring, and the regular training to enhance efficiencies. SuperClean Brands routinely surveys its workers for feedback on their satisfaction levels.

“They go above and beyond to support me and my family,” says an employee who is a Navy Reservist and appreciates the company’s backing of his service obligations.


Dr. Jennifer Eisenhuth Orthodontics
(2x winner)

We get to work with so many fantastic adults and young adults who have an abundance of energy that we tap into at each appointment. We have great appreciation towards our entire team and we acknowledge it consistently. We are serious about smiles, but have fun every day!

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: They really do whistle while they work at Dr. Jennifer Eisenhuth’s Orthodontics office in Eagan.
When a team member, vendor or patient makes a noteworthy accomplishment, members of the staff are likely to blow their company-issued whistles.

“I smile every time I hear them,” says one employee. “It creates incredible positive energy.”

The office places a high priority on keeping a cheery environment for patients, many of them youngsters, and that spills over to the workplace for staff.

“Our office is busy, demanding and fun,” says one employee.

Dr. Eisenhuth rewards her close-knit team with surprise treats like lunches and car washes, in addition to a generous profit-sharing plan. Last year when they hit their annual in-house goal, the whole team took a vacation to San Francisco.

The office also finds satisfaction in its charitable efforts. During the holidays, each employee got a stipend and two hours to purchase gifts for families living in a shelter, then joined together to deliver them.

“It was rewarding to see how happy [the families] were to receive them,” one employee recalls.


Crux Collaborative
(3x winner)
Crux Collaborative is a User Experience Consulting firm that specializes in complex, transactional, data-driven user experiences for regulated industries. We love collaborating with each other and with our clients to improve the products and websites that impact people’s work lives, their health, their finances and their families.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: The “Collaborative” part of the Minneapolis company’s title is more than just a word.

“We strive for collaboration in everything we do,” says one employee. “It’s a core part of who we are, as a team and with our clients.”

Crux Collaborative, which provides user experience consulting for regulated businesses, offers healthy food, ergonomic office features and a walking work station at the office. It also provides employees with flexible scheduling options, monthly wellness reimbursements and profit-sharing.

One of the guiding principles of Crux Collaborative is the saying, “Expertise needs to be fed.” That’s why the company gives its team members choice in professional development, whether it’s within person conferences, online seminars, meet-ups or other coursework, formal or informal.

“Ours is a culture that thrives on curiosity and knowledge and we are given wide latitude to determine what events will most inspire us,” says one employee.

Employees also appreciate an atmosphere of reasonable expectations, a tone of balance that is set from the top.

“We are highly encouraged to enjoy time off and decompress,” notes one employee.

Best in Class: Midsize Company Awards


(5x winner)

Clockwork is an interactive design and technology agency. As a values-driven organization, we’re transparent with staff about our business, finances and growth. Sharing information about — and responsibility for — our health and culture empowers people, keeps them invested and creates a unified workplace. Together, we create a best company to work for.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: At Clockwork, they have a word that they use to describe co-workers who are smart, curious, engaged and who have a personality all their own; they call them “clockworthy.”

Valuing such employees is a constant at the 15-year-old digital marketing agency, and it’s created a cohesive team.

“People are the power,” explains one Clockwork employee. “I can’t imagine being surrounded by coworkers of higher quality, by any scale — intelligence, ethics, compassion, drive.”

In the employee feedback that we surveyed, we found multiple employees calling their positions their ‘dream job.’

“The benefits create a welcoming environment,” explains one employee. “We have fewer concerns and are able to focus on work.”
Clockwork employees are enthusiastic about the transparency from the top, with monthly staff meetings to update them on goals and projects. In addition to conferences, online seminars and internal training sessions, employees value what one called “blue sky time,” the chance to have unstructured space to spin out new thoughts.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had, in the best place I’ve ever worked,” says another employee.


Maguire Agency Inc.
(4x winner)

At Maguire Agency we recognize that not only do our people drive our business but they are also critical to the success of their own families and communities. By providing flexible hours and work-from-home opportunities, Maguire helps support its employees both professionally and in their personal lives. That sentiment is brought to life at Maguire by the portraits of employees’ families lining the walls of the office.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: Employees at the Maguire Agency have a new reason to value their workplace: the place itself.
“We moved into new office space this year and the owners have outdone themselves, putting a lot of thought into what would be best for us,” enthuses one employee. “No expense was spared to make it our home,” says another.

Employees at the Roseville insurance agency now work in sun-filled space, with optional standing desks and access to breakout rooms for meetings.

The agency is led by a second generation owner, but employees value the say-so that they have in shaping day-to-day operations.
“There are committees like social responsibility and the health committee that help shape who we are,” says one employee. “Decisions don’t all come from the top, it comes from within.”

Employees also like Maguire’s quarterly performance bonuses, paid time off for reaching sales goals, flexible start times and the option to work from home one or two days a week.

“Money is important — we all need it,” notes one employee. “But the work environment is what makes Maguire a special place to work.


Fazendin Realtors
(3x winner)

Fazendin Realtors is Minnesota’s largest family-owned, independent, residential real estate company. We have been in the Twin Cities metro area for over 50 years and three generations. We deliver superior results and exceptional service because our agents and staff are fiercely committed to the benefit of our clients.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: Turning a group of hard-charging independent contractors into a team that “feels like family” is no small task.

But agents say that’s the challenge that’s been met at Fazendin Realtors.

Based in Wayzata, the company was founded 51 years ago; it has resisted the wave of brokerage consolidations and has been owned and managed by the same family for three generations.

Successful real estate agents are competitive by nature, but Fazendin agents say the leadership in their office discourages a bare knuckles approach.

“Most companies foster unhealthy, backstabbing competition,” one agent confides. “That behavior would never happen here.” Another agent called Fazendin “a rare gem,” noting that “morale is always a ten.”

Agents also like the company’s sales training support, the availability of one-to-one IT support and Fazendin’s practice of providing and paying for in-house training to fulfill continuing education requirements.

“I feel honored to hold my license with Fazendin,” says one agent. “Core values have remained intact and yet are current with today’s ever changing needs.”

Best in Class: Large Company Awards


Two Harbors Investment Corp.
(2x winner)

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: To promote strong, accurate communications, top leaders at the Minnetonka-based company stage regular quarterly Town Hall meetings with employees.

Two Harbors Investment manages a portfolio with mortgage-backed securities, and the wild ups and downs of the industry can create a bumpy ride.

“Whenever there’s negative news or rumors, they throw together a town hall meeting,” says one employee approvingly. “It’s a chance for everyone to ask questions and understand what is going on.”

The company offers its team bonuses, profit-sharing and top benefits across-the-board.

“The benefits are so generous that they were hard to comprehend at first,” admits one team member. “I had to confirm that this was, in fact, what was given to us.”

Hard work is “in the DNA” of the people who get hired by the company, according to one employee, but that dedication is valued and builds a strong sense of camaraderie among co-workers.

“I’ve had some tiring days, but I’ve never have a bad day working here,” adds another.


APi Group Inc.
New Brighton

APi Group Inc. is a multi-billion-dollar parent company of over 40 independently managed construction companies located in more than 200 locations worldwide. APi Group combines the personal attention of small-to-medium sized construction companies with the strength of an industry leader to bring innovation to the construction industry. APi Group’s enduring purpose is Building Great Leaders™. The employees of APi Group make the company a great place to work and APi Group is committed to each and every employee’s development. Each APi Group team member has the opportunity to be a leader, and while APi Group is small enough to offer a family-like environment, it is large enough to grant employees access to the best resources and development opportunities the industry has to offer.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: The APi Group says its purpose is “Building Great Leaders,” and its employees say that’s more than a mere motto.

The structure of New Brighton-based APi Group creates a sense of ownership in its staff, which shares in its profits.

“Each employee is part owner, which results in tremendous motivation because it results in a larger bottom line with more value to the shareholder — the employee,” one worker explains.

The parent company of over 40 independently managed construction companies, APi Group offers employees on-the-job training to expand their knowledge base and versatility; that allows them to develop and advance in their careers.

“They hire the person, not the position. Some people fit different roles better than what they were originally chosen for,” adds another.
Employees appreciate the free snacks, generous PTO policy, bonuses and group rewards.

The company also gets high marks for its outreach to veterans and their spouses.

“I would classify APi as an American treasure,” concludes one veteran. “The company has my unwavering loyalty.”


Carmichael Lynch

Carmichael Lynch is a full-service creative agency that creates the unfair ideas that give our clients the unfair advantage over their competition.  We strive to inspire and empower our employees with industry-leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, regularly scheduled thought leadership events and industry-leading health and wellness perks and benefits all in a collaborative work environment.

FROM THE EMPLOYEE SURVEY: Sometimes the whole team at Carmichael Lynch just has to hit the roof.

Atop the downtown Minneapolis building where the creative agency is housed is its private rooftop patio — the site of concerts, yoga classes and parties.

“I’m surrounded by smart, supportive co-workers,” says one employee. “The passion is contagious.”

The agency offers its workers health and wellness incentives, one-to-one professional development and education reimbursement.

“I am driven to do my best because I know it will be recognized,” says another.

The agency also makes flexibility accommodations for workers as they mature into different stages of their personal lives; as one employee put it: “I got to travel for work at a time when I wanted nothing more, then got to stay put when that was right for me and my family.”

There is a faction of employees who refer to themselves as ‘CL Boomerangers.’ They are workers who come back to the agency after working elsewhere for a while.

“I was always thinking of CL and how much I missed the culture,” says one such employee. “I’m happy to be back.”

The 100 Best Perception Gap

Most employees of the 100 Best Companies think their priorities are different from their company’s

When the 6,101 employees of the 100 Best filled out the surveys that enabled their companies to be finalists, we also asked them about their priorities at work, and their perceptions of their company’s priorities. We gave them a list of 11 topics, ranging from salary to work environment to training, and asked them to rank their top five. And from the same list, they ranked how they thought their company would rank them. The results were rather surprising

Of the top five priorities of the employees, only two items made it onto the company list, Work Environment and Communication. In fact, Work Environment was the only item where employees highly agreed with their company perception
(74% and 75% respectively).

The single biggest contrast is that by a wide margin the No.1 employee concern was salary (85%); but they think it is the very last concern of their company (20%). Benefits were also askew: Employees ranked them No.3 (61%), but perceived the company to rank Benefits No.9 (31%) in importance.

To get some perspective on these numbers, we talked with Professor Brandon Sullivan of the U of M’s Carlson School of Management, where he is a senior lecturer in the Work and Organizations Department.

MNBIZ: There seems to be a disconnect here, particularly on salary.
Yes, but it’s not shocking in that I’ve never seen an employee survey where most people say they’re satisfied with their pay. That’s always one of the higher items. I worked at a Fortune 500 for several years doing survey work, and the VP of benefits was always unhappy to see me come up with survey results, because pay and benefits were always high. So I’m not surprised by that, but this particular gap is really big.

You’ve got more than eight out of ten employees saying that salary is one of their most important topics. But only two out of ten are saying their company shares that priority. In a tightening job market, when the pie is expanding, people may be thinking, “I’m part of the expansion of that pie, am I getting anything in return for that financially?” It would lead me to wonder — at what point is that gap going to lead to behavior? Is that going to drive top talent to leave? Is that going to undermine productivity and engagement?

During tough economic times, like during the recession, I would not be that worried about this, because people wouldn’t have options, necessarily. They would be thankful to have a job. But in the current climate, where an organization is really doing quite well, I might get a little more concerned about other organizations poaching talent.

MNBIZ: Could you comment on the area where there’s strong parity, the work environment?
Yes, it’s encouraging to see that because it is such an absolutely critical component of running an effective organization and retaining talent. I know a lot of companies are very focused on the work environment, and how can they create a work environment that is going to promote effectiveness, productivity and engagement.

The gap in performance standards I thought was interesting, too. That’s gotten a lot of attention lately, because there’s a lot of research that suggests traditional performance management does not work very well — it’s disengaging, it’s demotivating. I don’t think we know, and this survey would suggest for employees it’s probably not as important.

MNBIZ: Another gap is hiring and retention. The employees rank it low, but they presume the company ranks it high.
Where I would see that as being most relevant is how it would impact the work environment. If you’re losing good people, if you’re not retaining top talent, or if you have constant churn, then that would really create a problem with the work environment, which is probably where most employees would experience that. If it’s bad morale and people are leaving, it’s because you’re not focusing on retention. That would be my interpretation.