Power Engineers has grown substantially from humble roots in the Wood River Valley: It opened its first office in Hailey in 1977 and now has 45 locations in the U.S. and Canada, as well as internationally.
Much of that growth has been concentrated in the past 25 years; in 1994, POWER had 300 employees and today it has about 2,500, said Mark Mary, the company’s chief human resources officer.
In Hailey, it employs more than 200 people and ranks in the top five largest employers in the Wood River Valley.
Even with the growth, the company’s continued investment in its workforce pays dividends to clients and the company’s performance.
POWER Engineers won the gold medal in Best of the Valley’s “Best Company to Work For” category, beating out Sun Valley Resort, which took silver, while the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley and St. Luke’s Wood River tied for bronze.
POWER is an employee-owned company, with 20 percent of its workforce having ownership, Mary said. It offers consulting and engineering design services for a variety of sectors—energy, food and beverage, communications, environmental projects, federal markets and others, according to the company’s website.
“We started looking at client opportunities and markets,” Mary said of POWER’s decision in the late 1990s to pursue growth. “It’s never been, ‘We’re going to grow for growth’s sake.’”
Mary joined POWER in 1994, and said the company has three philosophies that guide it.
“Do good work, have fun and make money,” he said. “Those are the three legs of the stool. It’s been a great opportunity for a lot of people.”
Mary said working for POWER has enabled him to raise a family and become a part of the Wood River Valley community.
“It’s given me the opportunity to do so much personally, too,” he said. “We’re engrained throughout the community, throughout the valley.”
And, the company has to continually push back the length of time for its longest-tenured employee. It was 20 years, but grew to 25 years, then 30 years, Mary said. Now the longest-tenured employees have been with the company for 37 years.
“There are people who have been there for 30-plus years,” Mary said. “We kept having to add five years to our service-longevity award.”
Mary said keeping the company employee-owned allows them to decide how to determine how profits are used and reinvested in the company, as well as how hard to push employees to achieve those goals.
“We don’t have an outside board or outside investors directing how profitable we’re going to be,” he said. “That’s been a big attractor. It comes back to a client focus. They’re the ones we work for.”
Sun Valley Resort
Sun Valley Resort ranked as the largest employer in the Wood River Valley last year, according to employment rankings from the nonprofit organization Sun Valley Economic Development.
The resort attracts plenty of seasonal workers from around the United States, as well as internationally, who are looking to experience a summer or winter in Sun Valley. They’re joined by veterans who boast years and even decades of experience in the hospitality business, working in parts of the resort as varied as snowmaking, the mountain lift system, restaurants, events, fine dining or working in the Sun Valley Lodge or the Inn.
“Sun Valley is the premier summer and winter resort in the western United States,” the resort states on its website. “The resort and its employees are highly regarded for consistently providing excellent service, high levels of guest courtesy and attention to quality and fine details … all with a ‘personal touch.’ Sun Valley’s reputation as a world-class operation comes from its commitment to quality.”
Sun Valley also took the silver medal in the Best Hotel category.
Animal Shelter and St. Luke’s
The Animal Shelter and St. Luke’s tied for the bronze medal in the “Best Company to Work For” category.
The Animal Shelter is in the process of constructing a new facility in Croy Canyon, across the road from its existing headquarters west of Hailey.
Executive Director Jo-Anne Dixon said the shelter wants to foster a hospitable environment for the public, animals and employees. The shelter has about 35 employees, including staff for the Barkin’ Basement thrift store, and aims to provide workers with salaries and benefits packages that compete with for-profit businesses in the Wood River Valley.
“In order to be a humane community and a humane society, we need to be humane not only with our animals but with our employees, as well,” Dixon said. “We’re trying to create a work environment that people want to be a part of.”
Associate Director Brooke Bonner said one goal is to create a culture of compassion within the shelter’s staff.
“How can we make this situation better?” Bonner asked. “Letting people come together with that sort of attitude shifts their entire world-view.”
St. Luke’s has about 435 employees, which ranks it in the top five largest employers in the valley. It’s part of the largest health-care organization in Idaho.
Spokeswoman Joy Prudek said St. Luke’s provides a Healthy U program devoted to worker health and achieving work-life balance. Employees volunteer for organizations such as Camp Rainbow Gold, the Senior Connection, the Hunger Coalition, the Advocates, Swiftsure Ranch and Higher Ground, among others.
“We take care of each other in addition to taking care of our patients,” Prudek said. “Because of the nature of the work that we do, we have strong teams. We have to work together as a team to provide excellent care to our community. Everybody here has such a commitment and passion for what they’re doing.”