16. W.L. Gore & Associates

Newark, DE

From the Company

Outside editors excerpted this information from the Employer Questionnaire submitted to the Best Companies Group.

Gore applies the science of fluoropolymers to create innovative, technology-driven solutions. Gore products include everything from consumer items such as ELIXIR guitar strings and GORE-TEX fabrics to toxin-destroying filtration products and life-saving medical implants. The company's technical agility makes it a leader in diverse consumer, industrial, electronic, medical and surgical markets. A unique corporate culture fosters inventiveness.

Perhaps one of the most well-known facts about Gore is that we don't have corporate hierarchy. We have no bosses, executives, or employees; we are all associates. The lack of titles reflects the flat organization that one of our founders, Bill Gore, believed would create a more energizing and innovative work environment. We're convinced that this approach contributes directly to our business success.

Our facilities are typically clustered on campuses, an arrangement which provides ample space for walking and running, as well as for Gore soccer fields and volleyball and basketball courts. Most plants also have showers, making it easier for associates to exercise during the workday. One Gore site is home to a volleyball court, softball field, hiking trails and large recreational pavilion.

Most associates enjoy latitude in managing their own time at work. It's a flexible approach that easily accommodates personal commitments and interests, whether that means arriving an hour earlier or later than standard start time each day, reorienting one's schedule during the summer months, or just working from home one afternoon to make it easier to get to an appointment. This approach is so prevalent that the full extent of flexible scheduling at Gore is difficult to track.

Our onsite occupational health centers provide work-related health services such as inoculations required for travel. We also have a team that assesses ergonomics for individual associates, both in office settings and on the production line. We have numerous Gore sports leagues. Associates in our Fabrics Division also volunteer at (and some participate in) the GORE-TEX Trans Rockies Run and similar events. Many Fabrics associates are hands-on product testers, regularly enjoying mountain climbing, camping, running, skiing, snowboarding, etc.

Teams of associates often participate in walk or bike-a-thons; fix-up or clean-up days at local institutions; and food, clothing and toy drives. Each plant chooses a holiday philanthropy project. Our Volunteer Support Grant program provides financial grants to non-profits in which associates volunteer—from scout troops to hospices to environmental organizations—giving associates the power to direct the flow of corporate contributions.

Our collection of consumer fabric laminates this year includes, for the first time, polyester fabrics made with recycled content (bottles). Separately, where we can, we also recycle materials within our own internal supply chain, using excess or scrap material from one product in the manufacture of another, for example. Most of our facilities pre-date the LEED system, but we have used LEED-inspired practices in the design of our newest manufacturing site in Arizona. Examples include rainwater harvesting, plug-in points for electric vehicles, and an energy-efficient HVAC system centralized for multiple buildings.

Most celebrations and recognition events are organized at a plant or business level. They come in all shapes and sizes. All associates in a plant may join in a celebration of an entire team's achievements. A team may hold an impromptu celebration of an individual team member's accomplishment. Gift certificates, special parking spaces or t-shirts may be awarded. On an individual level, a number of programs recognize associates who model the Gore culture. In one plant, associates receive "culture bucks" for actions that reinforce the culture. The bucks qualify them for a monthly prize drawing (prizes include gift certificates, clothing, etc.). Every other month, all U.S. facilities now honor a "watercarrier," an associate who contributes to the perpetuation of the culture. Several plants have ongoing "gotcha" awards that recognize associates who go the extra mile, as nominated by their fellow associates, with preferred parking spaces and gift certificates. And finally, there are a number of awards for associates who suggest cost- or time-saving ideas.

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