Baker Boyer tops in state workplace contest

The bank came out on top as a place to work in an annual rating compiled by Seattle Business magazine.

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WALLA WALLA -- Baker Boyer Bank was named the best company of its size to work for in Washington state Thursday in a Seattle ceremony that celebrated business.

The Walla Walla-based community bank was ranked first of 26 mid-sized companies feted in the state by Seattle Business magazine, which announced its list of the top 100 places to work. Companies that fit into the mid-size category, which reportedly receives the most nominations of all the categories in the annual contest, have between 100 and 499 employees.

Winners are determined in part by confidential employee surveys. The contest requires at least half of the participating firms' employees fill out an anonymous survey. Companies are judged based on hiring, retention, communication, benefits, work environment, rewards and recognition, leadership, training and education, performance standards and corporate culture.

Baker Boyer President and Chief Executive Officer Megan Clubb said this morning she knew the bank had finished in the top three, but had no idea until the awards dinner that the company had been named best of its size.

"It was a pleasant, pleasant surprise," Clubb said via telephone this morning.

"To be number one is really an honor."

She said the company's deep roots as a family-owned and operated business have shaped the operation for employees.

"I think a lot of it is that we've maintained a really strong family core," Clubb said.

That, in fact, was one aspect that stood out to the magazine as contest organizers read through feedback from employee surveys, which plays a major part in choosing winners.

"Employees talk about feeling as if they are part of a cohesive, supportive family. People know their co-workers have their backs if they're sick, if they need time off or if they're facing personal issues," the magazine wrote in an online summation about Baker Boyer.

The magazine also highlighted the company's approach the educational opportunities for its 168 workers.

"Employees interested in furthering their education can take advantage of a number of opportunities, from seminars and workshops to time off to pursue postgraduate degrees. Baker Boyer lends the money for tuition, and if the employees stay with the company, the loan is eventually forgiven," the piece said.

"On-the-job perks include a generous 401(k) match; enviable health, vision and dental plans; and healthful breakfast and lunch items packaged on-site for a small paycheck deduction."

Clubb said she's carried on the founding principles of the company established by her forefathers.

"I just so fundamentally believe that having highly satisfied employees is really good for business," she said.

Baker Boyer is the oldest independently owned community bank in the state. The company has eight branches and wealth management and business banking offices in the Walla Walla Valley, Tri-Cities and Yakima.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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