Nice work if you can get it: The 15 best employers in Charlottesville

Sigora Solar tied for first place on our list. Contributed photo. Sigora Solar tied for first place on our list. Contributed photo.

Charlottesville routinely finds itself on lists of the best places to live in the country. But it’s also a great place to work, judging by what people had to say about the following organizations.

For this look at the best places to work in Charlottesville, we used job and recruiting website Glassdoor’s ratings system, a 5-point scale based on anonymously submitted, user-generated employee reviews. We considered only those companies that had at least six reviews and a sizable local footprint (or were homegrown). While the top spot was a tie (between Sigora Solar and Griffin Group Global) every company on the list had an above-average rating. And you can find more reader-generated candidates online at c-ville.com.

#1. Sigora Solar (TIE)

Glassdoor company rating: 5.0 based on 10 reviews

What they do: Solar design, installation, and solutions.

Size: Most of Sigora Solar’s employees work remotely or in the field. At its main office, they have approximately 15 employees staffed.

Benefits: In addition to standard benefits (including health care, vision, dental, and life insurance options), Sigora employees can take advantage of at-cost solar for their home.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “This company and the employees exude tremendous passion for what they do. It’s easy to work for a company that believes in their products and service.”

Ciera Cannizzaro, Sigora Solar HR generalist, says it’s the people who make the work so rewarding. “Everyone is so knowledgeable and friendly,” Cannizzaro says, adding that the employees are like family. 

Flexible work scheduling is also a perk. “We don’t have the traditional work schedule where it’s like 8-to-5, 9-to-5. A lot of people work remotely, so that flexibility is obviously a really good benefit for everyone, especially people who have families,” she adds. Company parties, like the one held in November at Carter Mountain, helps build those “Sigora family” bonds.

#1. Griffin Group Global (TIE)

Glassdoor company rating: 5.0 based on 10 reviews

What they do: Cybersecurity and digital identity protection.

Size: 24 total employees, with 19 in the Charlottesville office.

Benefits: Benefits include “better-than-industry-standard” comprehensive health coverage, plus generous paid time off plans and domestic partner accommodations. Also included: flexible work schedules, work-from-home days, and company-sponsored philanthropy where employee volunteers don’t miss a day of pay.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “Griffin truly empowers employees. Their management is open to ideas and provides a framework for incorporating new ideas quickly to prove them and improve them. The technology is leading edge.”

Bill Heapes, Griffin Group Global chief operating officer, describes the company’s culture as “a learning environment in a high-tech business” where employees “thrive on everybody understanding our corporate goals and mission, and everybody has an equal voice in contributing.”

“The leadership has come from the government side, where we have a lot of institutional knowledge and discipline in our process management,” adds Heapes. “But that, combined with the flexibility of bringing in new technology, having people learn and understand it—Lunch n’ Learn-type sessions where everybody has the opportunity to bring what they know from their past experiences to the table. Everything is considered before we move forward.”

Photo: Amy Jackson Smith

#3. Tiger Fuel

Glassdoor company rating: 4.9 based on 23 reviews

What they do: Petroleum energy products distribution, oil and propane tank service and maintenance, and operation of The Markets chain of convenience stores.

Size: Approximately 260 employees.

Benefits: In addition to health insurance and vacation benefits, Tiger Fuel offers: financial wellness support, an employee assistance program, subsidized corporate gym membership, Tiger Card Fuel benefits, discounts on apparel from L.L.Bean, and a holiday bonus for every employee, among other perks.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “When you work for Tiger Fuel, you become part of the Tiger family. Great benefits, amazing atmosphere, friendship, [you’re] not just a cog on the wheel, [you’re] an important part of the business and it shows.”

Ryan Whitlock, Tiger Fuel director of human resources, gives all the credit to its employees for creating a positive work culture—and to the company’s owner and president for setting the tone. “They bring strength to the company and passion for customer service,” he says.

Photo: John Robinson

#4. ChartIQ

Glassdoor company rating: 4.9 based on 12 reviews

What they do: Fintech (financial technology company) providing software solutions to large capital markets companies.

Size: 50 employees.

Benefits: In addition to health, vision, and dental, benefits include catered lunch every day from local restaurants, unlimited vacation policy, flexible hours, and a dog-friendly office.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “So many pros to working at ChartIQ, including the top-notch talent we’ve been able to attract,
a leadership team that trusts its employees to responsibly manage a policy of flexible work hours and PTO, a relaxed work environment, opportunities for growth, location in downtown Charlottesville, inspirational leaders, and a customer-first approach.”

Even though the company is seven years old, ChartIQ still considers itself a “growth- stage startup,” wrapped in a “profitable, stable company that’s been around for a long time,” says Christian Hall, chief operating officer.

A focus on work-life balance, a laid-back work environment, and a “beautiful, open, big office space near the [Downtown] Mall,” are other perks, says Hall. Employees are also encouraged to have lunch together every day, a tradition that dates back to the company’s founding.

“We plan to continue having lunch together because it’s been that way forever,” he adds. “It basically feels like a gathering at someone’s home every day, which isn’t just a benefit, it literally sets the tone for the office culture.”

Photo: Stephen Barling

#5. WillowTree

Glassdoor company rating: 4.8 based on 183 reviews

What they do: Digital and mobile technology design and development.

Size: Approximately 320 employees between its Charlottesville and Durham locations.

Benefits: Benefits include fully paid employee medical premiums, paid parental leave, annual professional development budget, tuition reimbursement, and a monthly gym membership stipend. Working at WillowTree also comes with such office perks as snacks galore, fresh-on-tap kombucha, nitro cold brew coffee, and beer, plus paid lunches twice a week.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “The best thing about WillowTree is the energy in the space. I work among the most positive and talented people I have ever met. They inspire me to do my best work at all time. I don’t ever feel like I’m solving a problem on my own.”

“We focus on building a team of people who not only love their craft but who also value and respect their colleagues,” says Christy Phillips, WillowTree’s chief talent officer. “Our Glassdoor reviews almost always focus on the enjoyment people get from working with talented, kind people as a top reason they love working here.”

Photo: Amy Jackson Smith

#6. Room Key

Glassdoor company rating: 4.8 based on six reviews

What they do: Hotel and travel search site.

Size: 22 Charlottesville employees.

Benefits: Benefits include health coverage, bonuses, funding for personal development–conferences as well as continuing education–quarterly hackathons, snacks on snacks, a beer keg, and access to a conference room “dedicated to competitive Mario Kart.”

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “One of the best assets of Room Key is and has always been the quality of its tech team. Open, mature, respectful, no egos, highly knowledgeable, friendly, just a great place to work, learn and contribute.”

“It’s like a mostly sane Silicon Valley start-up with a heart,” says Doug Lawson, head of product and design, who praises Room Key’s employees for being “smart, motivated, super-creative and nice to work with” and who “pull together well as a collaborative team.”

#7. Locus Health

Glassdoor company rating: 4.7 based on 17 reviews

What they do: Remote care solutions, primarily for pediatric patients.

Size: 23 employees.

Benefits: In addition to a competitive salary (based on experience), Locus Health offers medical, dental, vision, 401(k) match, paid time off, employer life insurance, and a gym subsidy.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “The combination of a team that creates cutting-edge technology and actual health care professionals, as well as business gurus, make this such an interesting place to learn and grow as a professional.”

Its mission is one of the biggest reasons why Locus Health is a great place to work, says Rick Skinner, senior vice president and chief technology officer. “We make a product that enables babies to leave the hospital safely in the care of their parents. And so all of us at Locus really identify with that mission. We’re doing something that really has some intrinsic value,” he says.

#8. 2RW Consultants

Glassdoor company rating: 4.5 based on 12 reviews

What they do: Sustainability minded MEP/FP (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection) engineering systems and energy consulting services.

Size: 72 employees.

Benefits: At R2W, employees get medical, dental, and vision, plus long-term disability and term life (with 100 percent employer-paid premiums for employees), employer contribution to health savings accounts, SIMPLE IRA with up to 3 percent matching contribution, banked paid time off, and company-sponsored holiday parties and outings.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “The team is young and fun. They have the perfect balance of light-hearted, easy-going culture and rigorous deadline-driven ethic. Very smart people who welcome new ideas and want to make everyone a better employee and engineer.”

“I think consistently, when we’ve surveyed our employees, the number one thing that people like about working here is that they love the people and they love the work environment,” says 2RW Marketing Director Denise McFadden.

2RW’s focus on sustainability also unites employees around a purpose for the common good. “I think that really resonates with people,” McFadden adds. “They like that that’s a part of what we do, because we are really in business to do more than just earn a paycheck–we’re trying to do something good for people, for society, for the planet, and it’s nice to have that greater goal.”

#9. CCRi (Commonwealth Computer Research, Inc.)

Glassdoor company rating: 4.5 based on 10 reviews

What they do: Applied data science and software engineering.

Size: 130 employees.

Benefits: In addition to customary benefits like health and retirement, CCRi offers free access to two employee assistance programs, a financial wellness program, gym and yoga discounts, professional develop opportunities, flexible work schedules and time-off policy, plus lots of daily snacks (including a free cereal bar in every building, monthly bagel breakfast, and coffee and espresso bars). They also have a community Vive, massage chair, and other office amenities.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “There is never a shortage of friendly, intelligent, and ambitious people at CCRi. The amenities and environment are laid-back and very friendly, but there is never a shortage of tough problems to solve.”

Flexibility is one of the top benefits of working at CCRi, says Julia Farill, human resources manager. “We value flexibility, and we’ve made a lot of choices as a company to try and foster that so people have a lot more control over their life and their work-life balance,” she says.

CCRi also has a collaborative, meritocracy-focused, “kind of quirky” culture, she says.  “We want to hire the best people we can find that are really smart, creative problem-solvers, and then keep them happy for a whole career.” 

#10. Southern Environmental Law Center

Glassdoor company rating: 4.4 based on 15 reviews

What they do: Environmental protection legal and policy nonprofit

Size: 59 employees in the Charlottesville offices, and 149 total.

Benefits: A snapshot of benefits at the SELC: affordable health, dental, and vision, generous paid time off, fully covered life, short-term, and long-term disability insurance, retirement contribution (not match), up to a total of 12 weeks parental leave following childbirth or adoption (six weeks fully paid by SELC), and opportunities to visit the places the organization works to protect.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “While the mission brings most people to SELC, I have stayed because of the people, the benefits and the work/life balance. Having genuinely nice colleagues who go to work excited about what they do makes SELC an incredible place to work. . .”

Sarah Francisco, director of SELC’s Virginia office, credits its team of “intelligent, hard-working people pursuing a shared mission” for making the organization a top-notch place to work.

“We set ambitious goals, have high standards, and work with dedication alongside wonderful co-workers,” Francisco adds. “This creates a special mix of professionalism, collegiality, teamwork, and camaraderie. We celebrate successes together, and everyone is valued and recognized for their contribution.”

Photo: Sanjay Suchak

#11. University of Virginia

Glassdoor company rating: 4.3 based on 765 reviews

What they do: Higher education

Size: The university employs about 30,000 people total (not including the College at Wise)—that number includes roughly 16,000 faculty and staff and approximately 12,000 Health System employees.

Benefits: UVA’s benefits (“total rewards”) package includes health insurance, retirement plans, flexible spending accounts, paid time off, education benefits, back-up care for children and elderly family members, and wellness benefits.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “Consistent work-life balance (best I’ve ever experienced), kind and supportive coworkers, beautiful campus, excellent benefits, meaningful work, opportunities for professional development.”

The University of Virginia is the largest employer in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area, and it needs no introduction as one of the premier higher education institutions in the country. While jobs vary widely, UVA consistently earns accolades: In 2018, it landed on Forbes’ ranking of “America’s Best Employers” (#66) and “Best Employers for Women” (#36). Earlier this year, it made Forbes’ list of “Best Employers for Diversity” (#54). UVA’s continued growth and reputation for stability, as well as its suite of benefits and career development opportunities, no doubt contribute to its status as a top place to work.

#12. CoConstruct

Glassdoor company rating: 4.3 based on 41 reviews

What they do: Construction project management software for custom home builders and remodelers.

Size: Approximately 99 employees.

Benefits: A sampling of benefits includes generous holidays plus paid time off, flexible work schedules, paid leave for new parents, regular happy hours, and paid training.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “I’ve never seen a shared ethos enacted every day from the top down the way it is here. I felt it the first moments, even before I could really even define it. This company cares deeply about their core values and strives to live them out every moment. . . and is probably the single most important point of differentiation here.”

Donny Wyatt, CoConstruct founder and CEO, points to the company’s five core values as the foundation for its work culture, which contributes to a palpable “energy” in the office. Those distinct core values—like “understand why” and “show personality”—are “very much us” and enable employees to excel as individuals and as a team, says Wyatt. “When everybody’s in, and we all have a common vision of what we expect from ourselves, and others, and how we act, it actually provides a lot of comfort and freedom to people to be themselves,” he adds.

Photo: Martin Kyle

#13. Crutchfield

Glassdoor company rating: 4.2 based on 37 reviews

What they do: Online and catalog retailer of consumer electronics.

Size: More than 600 employees at locations in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, and Wise County.

Benefits: Benefits include health, dental, vision, disability (long and short term) and life insurances, paid leave, 401(k), flexible spending accounts, paid time off, paid holidays, employee assistance program, adoption assistance programs (both for children and pets), pet insurance, and registration fees for fitness events.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “The whole company has employee appreciation days twice a year plus other fun company-culture-building events that I always look forward to. . . The different departments are happy to work together, and anyone with a good idea or concern is heard, no matter what their job is.”

Crutchfield has steadily burnished its reputation as an award-winning, customer service-oriented business since its founding in 1974 by Bill Crutchfield. A shared belief in a set of core values and a focus on training, career development, and employee engagement contributes to a high level of satisfaction, says Chris Lilley, Crutchfield’s chief human resource officer.

“We take great care employing the right kind of people here—people who respect each other, who have the capacity to be empathetic, and care for our customers, and for each other,” says Lilley. “It’s really as simple as that and it comes from Mr. Crutchfield at the top.”

Greg Mika Images

#14. Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital

Glassdoor company rating: 4.1 based on 11 reviews

What they do: Not-for-profit health care.

Size: 1,600 employees.

Benefits: Benefits include medical, dental, vision, 403(b), pension plan, and paid annual leave— as well as tuition assistance, scholarships, free on-campus gym, and discounts on local area services.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “Friendly co-workers, patient-centered work environment, focus on safety and quality. Culture is centered around ‘caring tradition.’ Employees of all levels involved in improvement efforts and decision-making.”

Founded in 1903, what is now Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital has a long history of employing generations in the greater Charlottesville-Albemarle community. And Johnsa Morris, chief nurse executive at Sentara MJH, gives all praise to its employees for making it a place where “you can put your passion into action and turn your calling into a career.”

Morris says the hospital has a culture of teamwork. “We are also fortunate to work in a beautiful location that offers a healing environment,” she says. Each day we can take advantage of our beautiful mountain scenery and walking trails. We are able to offer flexible schedules and, through our scholarship programs, we have the opportunity to continue to learn and advance in the organization.”

#15. Red Light Management

Glassdoor company rating: 4.0 based on 55 reviews

What they do: Music industry artist management.

Size: unavailable

Benefits: Red Light did not respond to requests for comment or information on their benefits.

What people are saying on Glassdoor: “This company has all the connections and networking you could ever ask for at your fingertips. Be ready to work hard and play hard.”

I mean, wouldn’t you want to work for the organization that gave us the Dave Matthews Band? Founded in 1991 by Coran Capshaw, Red Light Management’s diverse roster of talent also includes Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, Leona Lewis, Enrique Iglesias, Dierks Bentley, Chris Stapleton, Anita Baker, Michelle Williams (of Destiny’s Child), and Phish, among others. Its website highlights a “progressive work environment” and the opportunity to work with “an industry-leading team.”

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