News & Politics

Great Places to Work: Beyond Local Companies

Companies that aren't based in Washington have Washington-based employees

We first named Great Places to Work in 1999, and since then competition has increased. We received more good applications than ever before.

This year we are giving preference to Washington companies. The 55 Great Places to Work are mostly hometown firms.

This doesn't mean there aren't very good companies to work for here that are based out of town. Some, such as Verizon Wireless, have more Washington employees than most local firms.

So what if the CEO isn't in Washington every day? Here are other great places to work.

Hospitality Begins at Home


Texas-based Omni Hotels, with almost 12,500 employees, has a staff of more than 700 at DC's grand Omni Shoreham.

Hotel work is hard, and employees are rewarded. At a monthly gathering, bonuses are given for exceptional effort. On hot days, housekeepers might be treated to ice cream. Managers go on such quarterly outings as scavenger hunts in limos.

In an industry with high turnover, half the staff has been there a decade or more. "It's amazing the number of people who've been cleaning rooms here more than 20 years. They smile all the time," says hotel manager Tracy DiFalgo.

Omni Shoreham, 2500 Calvert St., NW; 202-234-0700;

Building a Company


Until this summer, Timberlake Homes, a third-generation family business, was in Prince George's County. But the company, which builds homes in Maryland and Delaware, relocated to Annapolis.

Before it did so, president John Minzer plotted the address of every employee on a map, trying to find a central location. He calculated the difference in each commute. Employees were asked their opinions. Despite the move, the staff of 32 all stayed.

What keeps them happy? They cite generous compensation, the "integrity" of the company, and the trust placed in them.

Timberlake Homes, 888 Bestgate Rd., Annapolis; 301-350-0400;

It Takes a Village


How many federal contractors can say their efforts are helping a village in Alaska?

Eyak Technology is based in Anchorage but has a Reston office where 40 people, about half the staff, work. Profits help support Alaska's Eyak tribe and have funded everything from library books to scholarships.

Eyak Technology, 1881 Campus Commons Dr., Reston; 703-481-0050;

Banking on a Career


North Carolina's Wachovia has 95,000 employees, including 1,500 in Washington. The financial-services firm gives back to every community it's in. Among staff perks: four hours of paid time a month to volunteer in community activities.

There's an emphasis on employee growth, and good performance is rewarded. The company promotes from within; no wonder the average tenure is ten years.

Wachovia Corporation,

Connected to Employees


New Jersey-based Verizon, with more than 50,000 employees nationwide and 1,700 in this area–it has a regional headquarters in Laurel–offers above-average pay, $8,000 a year in tuition reimbursement, a 401(k) match of up to 6 percent, and lots of career training.

Fitness benefits are healthy–everything from gyms to prenatal courses to a 24/7 nurse line. And employees like the opportunities to volunteer in the community and the staff's diversity.

Verizon Wireless,

One Very Big Family


With offices on five continents, Jones Lang LaSalle–a real-estate management, consulting, and advising firm–could think globally, not locally.

But despite having 19,300 employees worldwide, the 234 DC staffers feel part of a family. When one employee's grandson died of sudden infant death syndrome, not only did colleagues send cards and flowers, but three senior managers flew to Ohio for the funeral.

Employees like the flexibility to work from home, the challenge, their helpful colleagues, and team events like disco bowling.

Jones Lang LaSalle,

Knocking Down Walls


DPR, a California commercial-building contractor, has a regional office in Virginia, and the 85 employees here love the flat bureaucracy.

There are no private offices, even for managers. The openness extends to ideas: Employees say managers are receptive to any idea and give them free rein.

The referral program is generous–two successful referrals earn the staffer a trip to Hawaii; four bring a Volkswagen Beetle. No wonder 65 percent of last year's hires were referrals.

DPR Construction, 2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church; 703-698-0100;

Spirit of Giving


At CDW Government, a computer/technology reseller that's a subsidiary of Chicago-based CDW, breakfast is catered every Tuesday and Thursday; there's ice cream on Wednesdays and a turkey or pie on Thanksgiving.

The way to employees' hearts is not just through their stomachs. Their children receive holiday and birthday gifts courtesy of CDW-G. On an employee's third anniversary, he or she is treated to a family trip. Employees are flown with a guest to a holiday party in Chicago. After the tsunami, the staff raised money that was matched by the company so nine coworkers could go to Thailand to build homes with Habitat for Humanity International.

The workplace is high energy and competitive. An annual trip rewards top producers.

CDW Government, 13461 Sunrise Valley Dr., Herndon; 703-626-8000;

Building Diversity


The Washington office of this Manhattan-based building giant was so successful renovating RFK Stadium in time for opening day–and giving a chunk of the work to local small and disadvantaged businesses–that it turned many a skeptic into a Nationals fan.

Turner's 380 Washington-area employees do about $50 million of work a month including such current projects as the Newseum. About 150 more employees work for one of Turner's subsidiaries here, Tompkins Builders, which worked on the World War II Memorial.

Vice president Christian E. Jahrling says the company's values and commitment to diversity reflect the ethos of the service-minded Quaker who founded the company more than a century ago. "There is a strong culture for women and minorities at Turner," says Catherine Clifford, a project manager who's been with Turner nearly six years.

Turner Construction, 3865 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300, Arlington; 703-841-5200;