Best Companies to Work For

The Burns & McDonnell management team


Henderson Engineers has been known in Kansas City since it was founded almost forty years ago. The company affirmed its national presence in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering services after Duane Henderson, son of the founder, took over in the late eighties. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Lenexa, the company has opened six branch offices in five states and transformed itself into a major employer with 425-plus associates. Still, the company encourages its staff to communicate freely, access education and advance their careers. “We take an individualized approach to employees’ strengths,” explains Rich Smith, executive vice president. Professional engineering licensing, LEED accreditation programs, and “lunch and learn” sessions are available to employees, while Employee Relations has initiated programs like the “HealtHEIer You” campaign, which provides health education. In many established companies, employees can expect a full benefits but pay a price in excessive structure. “What differentiates us is the flexibility and the opportunity,” says Smith. Henderson Engineers employees are also active in community service, especially by providing guidance to young people interested in careers in engineering. After so many years in business, Henderson Engineers will likely keep on giving, with consistent revenue growth, newly opened branch offices, and even more plans for expansion.


Olathe-based NIC was founded on a novel concept: businesses that needed public access would pay for it. As Internet services gained popularity in the late nineties, NIC gained customers. “We look at ourselves as the virtual office to every state agency,” explains Harry Herington, one of several founders and CEO of the company, which now provides eGovernment solutions for some 2,600 state and local agencies. The services citizens can access include items like car tags, social service information, and professional licenses, just to name a few. NIC has grown to some 420 employees nationally with 55 in its Olathe headquarters. For its staff, NIC offers excellent benefits, a variety of incentives, flexibility, and a great potential for advancement and travel.
“I believe that the happier the employee is, the more productive they are going to be.” In the NIC workplace, employees at all 23 offices in 21 states enjoy quick advancement potential. “Our culture is, we want to hire you and we want to keep you,” says Herington. He also calls attention to the NIC wellness program, which encourages employees to join the gym, get involved in athletic events, and even participate in a weight-loss challenge, one in which he himself shed fifty pounds. “We are a company that runs on passion.”


Providing interactive marketing services since 1992, full-service ad agency VML began with just 30 employees, and has since grown to some 400 employees and become one of the most influential advertising and marketing firms in the Midwest, with Matt Anthony as CEO. Employees have many reasons to celebrate, and are quick to throw a party on the deck or dedicate a champagne toast to a new client. VML has always been a philanthropic company, responsible for its own charitable organization, the VML Foundation. The firm provides a matching gift program and two days each year per person to volunteer in the community. In 2007, staff members contributed 8,000 hours of pro bono work. Between its two downtown offices and branches in New York and the Pacific Northwest, VML has many of the perks of a modern interactive marketing firm— an on-site workout center, complimentary fruit, half-day Fridays in the summer— but your average “VMLer” is likely to extol the camaraderie among the employees above any other benefit. “We have a long, tenured group here,” says Veitch. She explains that VML keeps its staff motivated and empowered through collaboration, not to mention generous compensation, comprehensive benefits and a flexible approach to schedules.


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