Business & Development

Best Places To Work 2013

The 25 Best Places To Work In Baltimore.

People, you need to face the ugly truth: You haven’t won the lottery yet and, silly you, didn’t marry a Rockefeller, so you’re doomed to, you know, work for a living. But now that we’ve grasped that painful reality, why not work someplace where you really enjoy what you’re doing?

Our mission: Find out where those work places are. This year, though, we approached our task a little differently. In the past, we let the best companies in the region duke it out over what they thought were great comp plans, benefits, and perks. This time, however, we tried to determine first from top national and local recruiters what the employees want most from the boss——be it intellectual stimulation or social benefit, money, room to advance, or icing-on-the-cake benefits like free gym memberships or pet insurance.

The verdict? It isn’t all about money——for the majority, it seems, it’s work satisfaction and life/work balance that matter most. And our list this year reflects that. So, drum roll: Here they are, the Baltimore area’s best places to work, version 2.013——and, as usual, they wouldn’t be on the list if they weren’t hiring.


Mergis Group

Abilities Network

Location: 8503 LaSalle Rd., Towson and seven other locations. Employees: 140. What they do: Abilities Network serves the disabled with six programs, all community-based, to help clients live and work independently in their homes and communities through job-search and training assistance. Why we like them: This $10-million nonprofit takes particular pains to make sure workers are happy——there’s an annual survey of employees to see what management could do better. Best benefits: 403(b) plan (the nonprofit version of a 401(k)), health benefits, comprehensive health, dental, vision, life, and disability policies, employee-assistance program, tuition reimbursement, and employee-referral bonus.

America’s Remote Help Desk

Location: 6400 Ridge Rd., Ste 308, Eldersburg. Employees: 56 in the Baltimore/Washington area. What they do: They’re a Maryland-based help-desk and infrastructure-management services outfit serving companies of all sizes. Why we like them: For one, they’re not based in New Delhi. But ARHD also offers a lot of opportunity in the IT field to Marylanders who aren’t necessarily the super-geeks being hired by the way-out-there tech firms on this list. Best benefits: 401(k) retirement plan, health-insurance options including medical, dental, and vision, and a flexible work schedule.

Chesapeake Urology Associates

Location: 25 Crossroads Dr., No. 306, Owings Mills (corporate office), plus 16 medical offices and 15 surgical centers. Employees: 414. What they do: CUA is the largest urology practice in the Mid-Atlantic. Why we like them: They’re leaders in the fast-growing health sector, their physicians routinely sweep the urology specialties in our own “Top Doctors” survey, as well as others, and they have a low turnover rate. Best benefits: Full medical and dental, basic life, 401(k) safe-harbor plan (CUA contributes 3 percent of every staffer’s salary regardless of whether they contribute), profit-sharing averaging 1.4 percent of salary, tuition reimbursement offered on day one, and discounts on pet insurance, phone plans, and athletic clubs.

Ciena Corporation

Location: 7035 Ridge Rd., Hanover. Employees: 650 locally, 4,500 globally. What they do: A provider of telecommunications infrastructure technology, software, and services. Why we like them: They’re aggressively recruiting for a number of divisions, have a culture of charitable work, and boast spanking new offices in a LEED-certified building adjacent to an Amtrak/MARC station. The new HQ has an on-site cafeteria and incentives for staffers to use bikes and energy-efficient autos. Best benefits: Full range of medical, dental, and vision policies, plus life and disability insurance, stock-purchase and retirement plans, tuition reimbursement, employee-assistance program, group legal plan, group home and auto insurance, matching charitable contributions, and a history of encouraging employees to get involved in community-service projects.

Columbia Technology Partners

Location: 10015 Old Columbia Rd., Ste. B215, Columbia. Employees: 20. What they do: They’re secret geeks for government: They work on “mission-critical systems and operations to ward off both internal and external threats to national security” with a team of systems engineers, IT security engineers, and whatnot. If they tell us any more, they’ll have to kill us. Why we like them: Staffers say they like management’s open-door policy, and they have great benefits in a recession-proof line of work. (That would be stopping a cyber-attack that could, gasp, take down Facebook for a day.) Best benefits: Medical, dental, and vision premiums paid in full by the company for actual employees (great for you singles), paid life insurance, short- and long-term disability, new employees are 100 percent vested in a 401(k) plan with match, performance and referral bonuses, telecommuting, and flextime.

Connections Education

Location: 1001 Fleet St., Flr. 5. Employees: 214 in Baltimore, 616 statewide, 2,500 nationally. What they do: They’re a provider of virtual-education solutions for students in grades K–12. Since 2001, the company’s Connections Academy division has delivered individualized learning to students through virtual public schools and a private online academy. As of the 2012–13 school year, 24 Connections Academy online public schools operate in 22 states and serve more than 45,000 students from across the U.S. Why we like them: Nationally, 40 percent of employees work from home. And, if you can believe this (it is from HR), 93 percent of employees rated their satisfaction with benefits as good, very good, or excellent, while 92.6 percent of employees said that the work environment is better or significantly better than at their previous job. Best benefits: Short-term disability 100-percent paid (usually for maternity), life insurance, employee-assistance program, 401(k) plan with employer match of 100 percent of first 3 percent of eligible earnings and 50 percent of next 3 percent of eligible earnings (with immediate vesting and early enrollment for new hires), health plan with no co-pays for preventative-care visits or drugs, tuition reimbursement, adoption assistance, and lots of professional-development programs.

Double Positive

Location: 1501 S. Clinton St., Ste. 1520, plus locations in Arizona and Georgia. Employees: 72. What they do: Online marketing company. Why we like them: This privately held company, which expects to increase its staff 10-20 percent in 2013, has a laid-back, youthful office culture and great views of the harbor from the 15th floor. And there’s a performance-review program that has employees rating their bosses, too. Best benefits: An annual merit-based bonus program, stock options, profit-sharing, six weeks’ paid maternity benefits, 100 percent of premium health, vision, and dental insurance covered (including domestic-partner coverage), hiring referral bonuses, a 401(k) plan that even new employees can participate in after only 90 days, tuition reimbursement, deep discounts on athletic-club memberships, and lots of free company lunches, picnics, parties, and sports events.

Exceptional Software Strategies

Location: 1304 Concourse Dr., Ste. 420, Linthicum. Employees: 100. What they do: Provide information technology solutions and services to U.S., state, and local governments, educational institutions, and private industry, specializing in advanced visualization, geographic information systems, cloud computing, and cyber security. Why we like them: Cutting-edge technology in a fast-growing field for clients that never seem to run out of money. (Think “the government.”) Best benefits: 100 percent of premiums paid for dental and vision insurance, 90 percent for health, health and fitness allowance, employee-assistance program, adoption program, fully vested 401(k) with exceptional match, tuition assistance, cash awards for performance, new-employee referral fee.

FX Studios

Location: 11270 Pepper Rd., Hunt Valley, as well as a fitness center at Under Armour HQ. Employees: 60. What they do: Salon, spa, and fitness studio. Why we like them: To quote an employee who participated in our survey: “FX offers constant education. . . . And with our gym facilities, including the new Performance Center for athletes, and the amazing personal trainers, I’m in the best shape of my life.” Best benefits: Health, dental, vision, and life insurance, a company financial adviser for employees at no cost, tuition reimbursement for annual certifications, year-round staff development and training, free access to fitness facilities including the new one at the Under Armour campus in Locust Point, discounts on personal trainers and products, as well as hair and spa services, a culture of year-round support of charitable causes by company and staff.

Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake

Location: 222 E. Redwood St. Employees: 580. What they do: A nonprofit providing job training and job-placement services. Why we like them: This fast-growing nonprofit combines a compassionate and critical mission with an appreciation of its employees not demonstrated by many for-profits. Best benefits: Paid leave for full- and part-time employees, health, dental, and vision insurance, paid long-term disability, life insurance, generous tuition reimbursement, financial counseling, wellness program, subsidized gym memberships, employee referral bonus, and store discounts.


Location: 6355 Woodside Ct., Columbia, and other locations. Employees: 476. What they do: This nonprofit provides job training, placement services, and independent-living assistance for those with disabilities, mental-health issues, and criminal records. Why we like them: They’re addressing a pressing social issue few other organizations will deal with, and have a solid comp plan for staffers, as well. Best benefits: Health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance, employee-assistance program, tuition reimbursement, profit-sharing, 403(b) retirement plan, hiring-referral bonuses, credit union and free checking, discounted home/auto insurance, discounts to Columbia Association sports and recreation facilities, wellness program.

Independent Security Evaluators (ISE)

Location: 4901 Springarden Dr., Ste. 200, and other locations nationally. Employees: 16. What they do: ISE protects companies from hackers and network attacks. Why we like them: How about the unlimited vacation? (Just get your work done, boys and girls.) Or that they expect to double staff in the coming year? The digs are nice, too: They’re in a historic mansion surrounded by the grounds of the Cylburn Arboretum. Best benefits: Fully paid health and dental benefits (nothing taken out of employee paycheck), annual bonus opportunities, safe harbor 401(k), health savings account with monthly funding match by company, flexible hours, telecommuting, discounted gym membership, weekly lunch provided by ISE, and company parties throughout the year, including their signature pool party: ISE Independence Day.

Irvine Nature Center

Location: 11201 Garrison Forest Rd., Owings Mills. Employees: 13 full-time, 24 part-time. What they do: Environmental education for ages preschool to adult. Why we like them: Outdoorsy types get to enjoy nature, teach kids about it, and get money and benefits, too. Best benefits: Full-time employees have 100 percent of their health-insurance premiums paid and deductibles covered, flexible work schedules, plus 50 percent off preschool tuition, summer camps, and events at the center.

Kennedy Krieger Institute

Location: 707 N. Broadway, and many other locations. Employees: 2,400. What they do: This nonprofit is famous for caring for children from all over the nation with disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and musculoskeletal system, as well as providing the kids’ education and doing research. Why we like them: No one can argue with the cause and they’re no slackers on perks. Best benefits: A 401(k) with graduated match that allows new employees to participate, solid health insurance with same-sex spousal coverage, child-care assistance, subsidized health-club memberships, shuttles and mass-transit subsidies, home-buying incentives near work, auto- and home-insurance discounts, tuition-reimbursement program, professional development programs.

Key Tech

Location: 40 E. Cross St. Employees: 25. What they do: Developers of high-tech products with a focus on medical, industrial, and consumer devices. Why we like them: A creative, casual office environment that fosters innovative product development. Best benefits: Great office in former vaudeville theater; employee-partner track with equity opportunity; 100-percent paid health and dental insurance and monthly contributions to health savings account (and there’s no way you can lose it if you don’t use it, as in a flexible spending account); free parking in Federal Hill; cash bonuses for engineers annually up to 15 percent of salary based on company profits.

Liberty Mutual

Location: 6760 Alexander Bell Dr., Ste. 250, Columbia, and other locations. Employees: 426 in Maryland; 50,000 globally. What they do: You guessed it——insurance of all kinds. Why we like them: They’ve got staying power: The Boston-based firm ranks 84th on the Fortune 100 list and is the third largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. Best benefits: Multiple health plans, as you might expect from an insurer (plus eligibility for part-timers), cash awards for performance, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, adoption assistance, mass-transit discounts.

Mercy Ridge

Location: 2525 Pot Spring Rd., Timonium. Employees: 220. What they do: Continuing-care retirement community loosely affiliated with the Catholic archdiocese. Why we like them: Mercy Ridge offers good jobs for those who may lack degrees, and the mission is worthy, too——looking after granny. They have a reputation for internal training and promoting from within, as well as competitive salaries. Best benefits: Solid medical, vision, and dental coverage, and a 401(k) with a company match, free meals during an employee’s shift, campus health and fitness coaches offer free weekly classes for staffers, free access to the community’s fitness and aquatic center.

PHH Arval

Location: 940 Ridgebrook Rd., Sparks, plus numerous locations nationally and in Canada. Employees: 900 in Sparks. What they do: This subsidiary of PHH Corp. is a leading commercial fleet-management company in the U.S. and Canada, managing nearly 600,000 cars and trucks and has a client list that includes nearly one-third of Fortune 500 companies. Why we like them: Rock-solid financially, first-rate benefits, and more than 100 expected hires in 2013. Best benefits: PHH Arval provides a better-than-market-average company match (dollar for dollar, up to 4 percent) to employees’ 401(k) account after one year of employment, reserved parking for expectant mothers, and a 24/7 on-site fitness facility for employees, as well as health coaches, walking clubs, weight-management classes, on-site seated massage, and on-site amenities such as an ATM and professional dry-cleaning services.

National Conference Services (NCSI)

Location: 5565 Sterrett Pl., Ste. 200, Columbia. Employees: 45. What they do: NCSI is a marketing, event-planning, and production company serving the Department of Defense, intelligence community, and federal government. Why we like them: No shortage of customers (think financial stability), room to grow, and a great gig if you’d enjoy traveling to events nationwide and in Europe. Best benefits: Employer-paid health insurance, disability and life insurance, 401(k), fitness- membership discounts.

Phoenix Technology Solutions

Location: 10420 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Ste. 500, Columbia. Employees: 15. What they do: Provide computer training, IT certification, and management courses to government and commercial clients in the region. Why we like them: Employees and their families can take advantage of Phoenix’s wide range of computer-training courses at no charge. Best benefits: More than five weeks’ paid time off, multiple health and dental plans, 401(k) plan with match, tuition reimbursement for courses within its field, flextime, and work-at-home opportunities.

Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin, & White

Location: 201 N. Charles St., Ste. 2600. Employees: 50 (including 30 lawyers). What they do: A growing law firm that handles complex civil and criminal trial work and appellate work, including some unusual high-profile cases. Why we like them: We like their honor system for paid leave time and no limit to paid sick time. Not to mention the keg in the break room, too——it’s right above the TV there. And you get to sue people all day long. Best benefits: Many paid bonus holidays, profit-sharing along with firm contributions to 401(k) for all employees, paid parking, 100-percent paid health insurance for families, paid seminars around the country for lawyers and support staff, firm-sponsored weekly happy hours, flexible schedule for school and/or child-care, catered office lunches, in-house gym and locker room with shower, tickets to most sporting events and theaters in town.

Southern Management Corp.

Location: 1950 Old Gallows Rd., Ste. 600, Vienna, VA, plus dozens of locations in Maryland. Employees: 1,582 in the region. What they do: They’re one of the largest privately owned residential- property-management firms in the Mid-Atlantic, operating 74 communities, a ski resort, and a hotel, as well as commercial office space. Why we like them: They haven’t raised their employees’ share of health-insurance premiums in eight years, while absorbing the higher costs. (Where else does that happen?) And we like the employee discounts for apartment rentals managed by Southern, and the frequent promotions of women and minorities to leadership (61 percent of women in management, 47 percent are minorities). Best benefits: 401(k) plan, retirement pension (you thought that had gone the way of the hula-hoop, right?), profit-sharing, a range of health plans, paid life insurance, subsidized health/fitness programs, adoption assistance, tuition reimbursement and in-house “university,” flextime, free gyms at managed properties, numerous charity programs, discounts on company-managed apartment rentals, assorted phone, insurance, and retail discounts.

Stegman & Co.

Location: 405 E. Joppa Rd., Ste. 100. Employees: 45. What they do: Public accounting. Why we like them: If all you can do is count money and fill out tax forms, this is a pretty good gig. Best benefits: 80-percent-plus health plan with company-paid deductible, flextime for maternity and other cases, generous comp time for those crazy work weeks during the tax season, tuition reimbursement, bonus for CPA-degree completion, professional development, overtime for non-exempt employees.


Location: 509 S. Exeter St., Ste. 306, as well as offices in Washington and New York. Employees: 11 in Baltimore; 65 firm-wide. What they do: Commercial furniture dealer. Why we like them: Very generous insurance and 401(k) plan, and a nice accommodation for new moms. Best benefits: WorkSpaces pays 100 percent of health-care premiums, including dental and vision coverage, and zero deductible with the completion of a health assessment; 401(k) plan with a match of 50 percent of the employee contribution for the first 6 percent of their gross salary; paid maternity leave and telecommuting for new working mothers; flextime; leave-time honor system; tuition reimbursement; professional development plan; company-provided lunch on Fridays; and bring-your-dog-to-work day every week.

Y of Central Maryland

Location: 303 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson (offices); wellness centers at many other locations. Employees: 2,143. What they do: They’re the largest provider of health and wellness services in the state, operating 11 family centers, as well as the state’s largest provider of education programs, including preschool and Head Start programs. The Y also operates 20 summer camps, over 50 before- and after-school programs, and offers mentoring and scholarship programs. Why we like them: Want to broaden your horizons and get paid, too? Employees can take a (free) course in virtually anything at the Y. Best benefits: Health insurance, 403(b) safe- harbor retirement savings plan with 8 percent Y contribution for all employees, free Y membership, dependent-care assistance, and professional-development programs.