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In 2008, Mark Eldridge and Matt Ovanes decided to launch a specialized software recruiting company. Then the economy crashed. This seemingly unfortunate timing in fact strengthened and shaped the business, as the founders hired only people with the work ethic and competitive edge needed to build a company during a recession. ALKU was the No. 1 small company on the 2013 Top Places to Work list, and then was in that list’s top five every year until its debut atop this year’s medium list.
THOUGHTS FROM THE TOP: “Everyone knows how you performed last week, last month. Everyone is happy when you succeed, but everyone wants to beat you, too.” — Mark Eldridge, chief executive
MAGIC MOMENT: On chief financial officer Marc Cirrone’s third day of work, the company hit $100 million in revenue. The company brought the entire staff together for an impromptu celebratory announcement, and Cirrone knew he had found a place that truly valued its employees. “It was very significant in my mind because it was a celebration where everyone was included,” he says.
OFFICE SPACE: In each of the two main office areas, an entire wall has been turned into a whiteboard where employees can track open jobs they’re filling, deals they’ve closed, and candidate interviews that have been scheduled. The effect is to keep everyone connected with the action while also encouraging healthy rivalries.
COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS: For six years, ALKU has helped sponsor the Rodman Ride for Kids, a bicycle trek of up to 100 miles that raises money for the Mass Mentoring Partnership. This year, 54 employees rode in the event, raising more than $103,000. Those who don’t want to pedal still help out with fund-raising drives and cheering on their colleagues.
DISTINGUISHING FEATURE: An atmosphere of supportive competition. When someone succeeds, “everyone is so excited that sometimes you can’t tell who is the individual who closed the deal,” says account manager Ryan Rudich.