Roaring Fork Valley home to three of the ‘Best Places to Work’

Staff Report

Two marketing firms in the midvalley and the Aspen Skiing Co. cracked Outside Magazine’s list of the 100 businesses in the U.S. that are the “Best Places to Work.”

Blue Tent Marketing in El Jebel came in at an impressive eighth on the list while Backbone Media of Carbondale grabbed the 82nd notch. Aspen Skiing Co. was number 90.

Other firms with Roaring Fork Valley ties also made the grade. GroundFloor Media, the top-ranked business, is a Denver-based marketing firm but it has a Roaring Fork Valley-based contractor, Sheryl Barto, who serves as a senior director of communications. Barto also has her own firm in the valley.

Big Agnes and Honey Stinger are based in Steamboat Springs, but one of the co-owners is Len Zanni of the Carbondale area. He focuses on marketing of both brands. Big Agnes, producer of tents, sleeping bags and other outdoor gear, placed 99th. Honey Stinger, which makes energy gels and other products, finished 72nd.

Companies have to apply to be considered a best place to work, then pass the initial screening process. The survivors are sent confidential employee-satisfaction surveys and employer questionnaire that asks about benefits, compensation, job satisfaction and community outreach. Outside uses a firm called Best Companies Group to analyze the results and crown the winners. The primary criteria are which companies enable their employees to pursue active lifestyles while also supporting their social and environmental contributions.

Blue Tent Marketing employs 34 workers in its office in a custom loft in Orchard Plaza, near Movieland. The company was recognized in the Outside article for its culture. “On-site employees at this Internet marketing company enjoy rafting lunch breaks and an office fridge consistently stocked with free brews,” Outside said.

The company also earned accolades in the ranking process for offering discounted rates for nonprofits and donating a limited amount of free marketing to groups each year.

Blue Tent won special recognition from Outside for “best perks” for its flexible workweek hours. Employees can catch powder on winter mornings and work later in the day or they can go for early-morning hikes or bike rides during summers. Workers can also telecommute and work four days at 10 hours rather than the traditional nine-to-five.

Blue Tent is showing consistency. It earned 7th in Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work in 2012.

Carbondale-based Backbone Media is a leader in marketing for outdoor companies and tourism destinations around the world. Its digs are notable because a gear room is stocked with the “latest and greatest” gear and apparel from Backbone’s 50-plus clients. Employees can check out what they are helping plug.

After three years of employment, employees receive $500 for use toward the purchase of their clients’ products.

Backbone received special notice for providing pro bono work for nonprofit organizations such as Roaring Fork Conservancy and Protect Our Winters.

Aspen Skiing Co. has made the cut on Outside’s list four out of the six years since the ranking was started. It ranked 80th last year.

It earned recognition for placing 90th this year for offering employees cruiser bikes to use during business offices at the various office clusters. Skico also got high marks for its culture, which includes weekly-themed ski days, acceptance of dogs in the offices and discount gear.

The employee-run Environment Foundation was honored for donating more than $200,000 annually to environmental projects.

Skico got special recognition in the special perks category for offering free lift passes and tickets to employees.

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