All in a Day’s Work: 17 Cool Companies
Though our region boasts a bevy of businesses, certain places rise above the rest. From work perks that go beyond Casual Friday to others that have been on the block for over 100 years, the following companies are cutting-edge and seriously cool. In no particular order…
CULTURE IS KING:
10030 Foothills Boulevard, Roseville
PRIDE Industries is a nonprofit social enterprise that helps people with disabilities overcome employment obstacles and empowers them to lead productive, independent lives as contributing members of society through a wide spectrum of services. The company serves small businesses and Fortune 100 corporations through business capabilities like supply chain management and kitting, custodial and environmental services, integrated facilities management, fulfillment and distribution services, and electronics manufacturing services. Additionally, more than 3,300 of their approximately 5,600 employees have a disability.
Humble beginnings: PRIDE was founded in 1966 in the basement of a church in Auburn with a mission to create jobs for people with disabilities. Currently it’s the largest provider of employment services for individuals with disabilities in the state of California.—LM
Big Green IT
5701 Lonetree Boulevard, Rocklin
Tech isn’t just for Silicon Valley—Big Green IT, a Microsoft Cloud and hybrid IT consulting and professional services company, has made some big green of their own: Two years after opening day in 2013, the company experienced 3,537.09 percent growth and earned $10.3 million in revenue. They’re also green in other ways: A nine-hole putting course on site offers a fun way to break up the day, an in-office margarita machine can turn any day into a fun day, and employees can borrow the company Tesla for a gas-free spin for a week on a rotating basis.
If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain: You’ve found your squad. This group of Jimmy Buffett lovers (a.k.a. parrotheads) not only went as a team to see him at the Golden 1 Center in 2015, but every employee receives his greatest hits album when they join the company.—LM
5105 Manzanita Avenue, Carmichael
Offering comprehensive home support services that help older adults remain at home for as long as possible—as well as those who choose to live in one of Eskaton’s communities that feature everything from independent living to skilled nursing and rehabilitation—this life-enriching program is the largest nonprofit community-based organization serving seniors in the Sacramento region. What’s more, 55 percent of the seniors they serve live below the poverty line.
Age is just a number: More than 650 elementary school students and their senior “buddies” meet regularly each school year to read, write, and build friendships. The award-winning project, dubbed Eskaton Kids Connection, fosters impactful intergenerational relationships that focus on mutual respect, socialization, a sense of purpose, and shared smiles.—LA
OLDIES BUT GOODIES:
Placer Insurance Agency
5 Sierra Gate Plaza, Roseville
With decades of collective industry experience, the agents at Placer Insurance write personal and commercial insurance policies specially tailored to each and every need. “Since 1886, Placer Insurance Agency has devoted its knowledge and combined experience in the industry to deliver quality insurance policies to individuals and businesses,” Agency Administration Manager Dineen Fraser says. They work to build lasting relationships with clients through their comprehensive insurance program, shown in their weekly blog posts and attention to the details in every company. The agency also partners with the Boys & Girls Club and Women’s Empowerment, in addition to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant a total of three wishes for children each year.
A staff favorite: “Five Minutes of Fun,” where team leaders come up with a fun venture that helps break up the work day and boosts morale, is a staff favorite. Past activities have included scooter races and lively bouts of “Name That Tune!”—AM
601 7th Street, Lincoln
Founded in 1875, this area old-timer got its start in clay sewer pipes and terracotta. At the height of terracotta’s architectural glory, Gladding, McBean was at the top of the industry in the West. That, as well as its sewer pipe manufacturing, made the company a top contributor to the Golden State’s industrialization. In the 1930s, the company ventured into dinnerware, introducing fine china in 1942, but discontinued their art lines during World War II. The company also gave academia shelter, literally—according to the California State Library, most major structures on Stanford University’s campus were decorated with Gladding, McBean’s products.
Local color: Every year, the company sponsors a Feats of Clay ceramic arts festival in Lincoln.—LM
Ruhkala Granite and Marble Co.
4501 Yankee Hill Court, Rocklin, 916-624-1176; Ruhkala Monument Co. Inc., 1001 Broadway, Sacramento, 916-441-2846, ruhkalagranite.com
For more than 120 years, these rock pros have been providing marble, granite, and cast bronze plaques in Northern California. They do it all: stunning kitchen countertops, beautiful mantels, commemorative plaques, and even large-scale architectural granite for buildings, parks, and churches. You’ve probably seen some of their work around town: the Veterans Memorial Wall, Twelve Bridges granite pillar, and the California Police Officers Memorial, to name a few.
Monumental memoriam: The company also builds and installs beautiful monuments and headstones out of their Sacramento location—from classic tributes to elaborate custom works of art—in local cemeteries.—LM
ARTISAN FOOD PURVEYORS:
Pairings Olive Oil
701 Pleasant Grove Boulevard, Suite 180, Roseville 916-772-7247, pairingsevoo.com
By purchasing the highest-quality and freshest products from all over the world, Pairings Olive Oil has an extensive selection of nearly 50 ultra pure olive oils and balsamic vinegars with incredible flavors to boot. The company, a women-owned small business, is coming up on its fifth anniversary next month. Owners Jennifer Holden and Debra Manley truly believe in the products they sell, knowing they are making a difference in the community. The business also has specialty recipes featuring signature pairings of oils and vinegars to help customers develop delicious and healthy meals.
Drink to your health: According to Manley, “We’re finding that our balsamic vinegars, when incorporated into carbonated water, can help hydrate cancer patients,” who, when going through chemotherapy typically get dehydrated after treatments because foods and liquids tend to taste different. “Let us help you with your dietary needs,” she urges.—AM
Sunset Ridge Fine Fruits
7825 Fox Hill Lane, Newcastle
Growing wholesome and healthy organic fruits is second nature to Sunset Ridge Fine Fruits. Greg Lewis, the owner, says that he sees the company “on the front lines of health care,” thanks to nutritious and healthy foods like organic oranges, lemons, grapefruits, pears, and apricots available on the farm. Families and children can pick their own fruit, allowing them to have a hands-on connection with the origins of their food. There is no risk of coming into contact with dangerous chemicals, since no weed killers, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers are used. Each week, Sunset Ridge donates to Sierra Reach, a food closet in Applegate. Their mandarins have won Best Tasting Mandarin at the Mountain Mandarin Festival twice, and their juices are of such high quality that many Placer County breweries use them to craft mandarin IPAs and other creative beverages.
All-you-can-eat produce: A plus for being on staff? Employees and interns are given all the fresh fruits and veggies they desire.—AM
6232 Eureka Road, Granite Bay
Otow Orchard sells in-season tree fruits throughout the year, including delicious apples, pears, quince, pomegranates, and mandarins, but they are best known for growing and preserving persimmons. Fresh persimmons are tasty, but Otow Orchard takes the flavor to a whole new level with a traditional Japanese drying technique called hoshigaki. During the 3-6-week process (per persimmon!), the peeled fruits are dried in the sun and massaged every 3-5 days while the weather is carefully monitored, resulting in a sweet, moist persimmon with a highly concentrated flavor.
History is sweet: The orchard was purchased in 1911 by Kichitaro Kawano, who left it to his widow and daughter, Helen Otow, in 1939. After the war, Helen and her husband Seiichi slowly brought the farm back to life. It is now taken care of by Kawano’s granddaughter, Chris Otow Kuratomi, and her husband, Tosh.—AM
The Baker and the Cakemaker
Top quality organic seeds, grains, and nuts make the breads and pastries from this local company something special. Handcrafted using organic flours with attention to detail, the husband-and-wife team behind the business trained at The Culinary Institute of America and take a very hands-on approach to bread production. Nathan Shreve handles the long-fermented sourdough breads, supervising baking staff in their daily break-making, while his wife Alice makes the pastries and cakes and handles marketing and development.
Available at a store near you: The Baker and the Cakemaker’s artisan breads and pastries can be found all over Placer County—and the surrounding region—in various grocers and restaurants, including Raley’s, Carpe Vino, farmers’ markets, and more.—AM
563 2nd Street, Lincoln
This farm has been growing pistachios since 1968, and even after five decades, these snack slingers still roast and package in small batches to ensure quality control. One thing that has changed, though, is the variety: Nuts are available in an assortment of flavors like barbecue, chili lime, garlic onion, and chocolate. And, you heard it here first: Pistachio butter might be the next nut butter trend. Try an eight-ounce jar or commit to the cause with a four-and-a-half-pound jug. Find these tasty pistachios online, at the Lincoln showroom, and at many local retailers including Whole Foods Market.
Job perks: A monthly bag of free pistachios. (They must be good—one employee has clocked 34 years at the company.)—LM
Jessica Osterday started Gracias Chocolate in 2014, hoping to create a chocolate that “charmed the senses, was different from the rest, and infused with the magic of creation.” Viewing chocolate as a balm to both soul and body, Osterday sought to make a healthier product. To that end, she melds pure, unroasted Ecuadorian cacao with maca root, a superfood touted for its natural energy source, creating a rustic and memorable stone-ground texture. Her more adventurous flavors include fig balsamic with black salt and citrus habanero with hazelnuts—both of which can be found locally at Sunrise Natural Foods, New Dawn Bakery, and more.
Fun fact: These chocolate bars are diet-friendly and environmentally friendly. They’re made without soy, dairy, or gluten; sweetened with coconut and maple sugar; and packaged in biodegradable wrapping.—LA
Long Dream Farm
4053 Wilson Town Road, Lincoln
Family-owned and operated, this farm approaches food production with an animal-loving mindset that focuses on ethical practices and a concern for the happiness of their cows and chickens. Here, cows live together with their calves in stable social groups and they’re only milked once daily in a low-stress environment. (In contrast, typical dairy farms separate calves from their mothers and milk cows up to three times per day.) The completely slaughter-free farm allows its animals to enjoy the idyllic setting as much as we do: roaming the pasture and sitting in the shade. Goodies include freshly churned butter, fromage blanc (cheese), Greek yogurt, halloumi-style cheese, fresh eggs, and ice cream.
Fun fact: You can stay at their Airbnb, which accommodates up to eight guests (four bedrooms) and watch a cow milking, help feed the animals, explore the pond and creek, or simply relax on the deck with some fresh ice cream from the farm.—LA
SMALL GONE BIG:
7501 Foothills Boulevard, Roseville
In the ever-growing world of technology, semiconductors are some of the most important parts in any electronic device. TSI Semiconductors is a local company specializing in developing semiconductor technology and mass-producing CMOS foundries for international use. In a nutshell, TSI is at the forefront of Silicon Valley’s success in various technologies. Sierra College Robotics Club, which recently won second place in the world’s largest robotics competition, “RoboGames,” is supported by TSI’s hands-on, project-based “Mechatronics” program. TSI also allowed students interested in STEM technologies to tour the normally closed and secured campus and laboratories to inspire students in the region this past Pi Day, March 14.
Work perks: Employees at this expanding company—they have an office in Silicon Valley for ease of access—get to take refreshing outdoor breaks in the picnic areas and walking trails on the whopping 75-acre facility, in addition to shooting hoops at the on-site basketball gym.—AM
10620 Industrial Avenue, Suite 100, Roseville
In a world flooded with data and obsolete data storage devices, it can be near impossible to know if data is really gone. Enter Garner Products, which makes products allowing you to dispose of old electronic devices confidently, knowing your personal data is unrecoverable. The leading manufacturer of worldwide data elimination equipment has been delivering complete, permanent, and verifiacble destruction of data contained on hard drives for over 59 years. “As a commercial manufacturer, we begin with raw materials. Our machine shop makes the parts [that] are assembled in our warehouse and then shipped around the world,” Chief Global Development Officer Michael Harstrick describes. They have the numbers to prove it, too: Garner has sold to over 70 countries and has more than 50 percent of India’s market share for degaussers and destroyers—the main products for completely erasing data on magnetic storage media.
It's all in the family: Even though the wife of Garner’s founder still works at the plant (and is in her mid-80s!), the founder’s son and his wife now own the company. What’s more, nearly 20 percent of their employees are veterans.—AM
2360 Lindbergh Street, Auburn
Founded in 1979 by the four Dwelle brothers (Tom, Walt, Steve, and David) with a handful of gas stations, Flyers Energy is one of the largest commercial fueling providers and Mobil lubricant marketers in the country today. In addition to traditional energy, they’re also committed to renewable energy: Flyers partners with two ethanol plants, a cattle waste bio-digester, a solar management company, and farms to turn dairy-waste into power. As a bonus, employees can apply for a fuel account with special pricing.
Giving back: They saved some energy for the field: Flyers is a proud supporter and primary charity of the Special Olympics of Northern California, which provides year-round athletic training and sports competitions for children and adults with developmental disabilities to more than 19,940 athletes in Northern California. Since 1998, the company has donated more than $2.4 million dollars to Special Olympics Northern California through direct sponsorship, golf tournaments, and fundraisers.—LA
6040 Stanford Ranch Road, Suite 200, Rocklin
What started out as a casual eBay venture has turned into one of the most popular online pet accessory retailers on the planet with more than 15,000 items, along with a brick-and-mortar store in Rocklin and a grooming salon and daycare in Granite Bay (8331 Sierra College Boulevard). Just like calories don’t count when you’re on vacation, shopping is always justifiable if it’s for your pet. When you think you’ve seen it all, there’s a line of toys inspired by Louis Vuitton, Starbucks “Pupkin” Spice plushes, and even denim mini-skirts for your four-legged diva. Not sure where to keep it all? Posh Puppy sells doggie armoires for that, too.
Fun facts: Posh Puppy was an official partner of Disney’s Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. What’s more, CEO/Founder Jennifer Kirk offers sales incentives to employees like VIP tickets (plus a hotel room and paid day off) to Luke Bryan and The Lion King.—LM
FOR MORE COOL COMPANIES, VISIT STYLERGBR.COM.