Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Genentech Tops the List at FORTUNE Magazine

Genentech Tops the List at FORTUNE Magazine
Biotech firm named the best company to work for in the U.S.
By Amanda Janis/Business Writer

Genentech environmental quality control analyst Cheryl Loehr inspects the air quality at the Vacaville plant. (Brad Zweerink/Reporter file)

The prominent accolades for Genentech persist.

It was announced Monday that the biotechnology firm placed first this year on FORTUNE Magazine's annual list, "The 100 Best Companies to Work For."

Frank Jackson, vice president and general manager of Vacaville product operations, explained that part of the reason Genentech is considered a great place to work has to do with its focus on providing biotherapuetics for unmet medical needs.

"It's a great company to work for," Jackson said. "For me, and most of the employees, it's because of what we do, which is provide medicines to patients."

He continued, "The Vacaville facility is involved in making product, so we can clearly see that the ouput from our efforts is going directly to the patients and making a difference."

The company's co-founder and board director, Herb Boyer, also referenced employees' connection to patients. In a press release Monday, he said, "I am proud of the dedication of Genentech's employees to patients and of the recognition that the company has received for being the best place to work in the country."

Genentech has made the FORTUNE list eight years in a row, though this is the first time it's been listed as No. 1.

FORTUNE rates companies based upon the magazine's evaluation of corporate policies - which are separated into four broad categories of credibility, respect, fairness, and camaraderie - and the survey results of at least 400 randomly selected employees. The employee survey, which is comprised of 57 questions and created by San Francisco's Great Place to Work Institute, makes up two-thirds of the company's total score.

FORTUNE's accompanying profile on Genentech includes a "What makes it so great?" explanation. It reads, "What's better than being a valued member of a cancer-fighting team? Having a great time while you're at work. (It doesn't hurt that 95 percent of workers are shareholders - and they've benefited handsomely from the soaring stock.)"

Genentech, whose Vacaville facility is undergoing a $600 million expansion, employs 8,121 employees in the U.S., 42 percent of whom are minorities and 50 percent of whom are women, according to FORTUNE.

FORTUNE also lists the company's most common salaried job as a research associate with an average annual pay of $69,425 and the most common hourly job as a manufacturing technician with an average annual pay of $47,817.

While Genentech placed first, 14 other California-based companies were among the "100 Best Companies to Work For," which is the highest number for any state in the nation.

Woodland-based Nugget Markets is ranked 33rd on FORTUNE's list.

"Even the baggers benefit at this Northern California supermarket chain," FORTUNE comments. "There's no premium for full health insurance, family coverage is $1 per week, and employees are offered a pension plus a 401(k) plan."

Nugget's president and CEO, Eric Stille, told The Reporter, "I'm delighted and humbled at the same time. It's a great honor for our associates to feel that they work for a world-class employer."

The family-run Nugget Markets - which was founded in 1926, and has stores in cities including Vacaville, Davis and West Sacramento - employs 1,091 employees.

In addition to Nugget Markets and Genentech, the California companies that are the best to work for, according to FORTUNE, are Amgen, Autodesk, Cisco Systems, Granite Construction, Hot Topic, Intel, Intuit, Morrison & Foerster, Network Appliance, Qualcomm, Standard Pacific, Vision Service Plan and Yahoo.

The complete list and related company profiles will be published in FORTUNE's Jan. 23 edition, and is also available on www.fortune.com.

Amanda Janis can be reached at business@thereporter.com.

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