Originally featured on ocregister.com - December 13, 2019
Jim Andronaco once read the foundation to a happier, more productive workplace boils down to three components — autonomy, mastery and purpose.
So it’s no surprise they’re the lay of the land at Sidepath. The Laguna Hills-based information technology company, which Andronaco and Patrick Mulvee founded in 2002 and officially launched in 2006, claims the No. 1 Top Workplaces small-company honor in its fifth consecutive year in the program. The distinction is based on feedback from its 46 employees about the close-knit culture that has sprung from the inclusive work environment the owners set out to create.
“We try to make sure everyone feels like their voice is heard and that they have a purpose,” said Andronaco, president of the firm. “The success of what we do is everybody’s success. There’s no I here.”
At Sidepath, workers are “family first and then a business,” as one person said in the Top Workplaces Survey.
“The management allows me to run my side of the business with freedom and accountability,” said another employee. And still, another praised the company for its “insight into the industry that allows me to use my existing skills while growing as technology evolves.”
Sidepath was designed from the outset to be the antithesis of the corporate world.
“What Jim and I do is hire great people and then get out of the way to let them do their thing,” said Mulvee, the vice president of sales. “These are folks that don’t need to be managed. They’re self-motivated, thirsty for knowledge and looking to get that high-five from the client. This may sound weird, but these are folks that are better than Jim and I.”
But Sidepath employees aren’t just valued, they’re rewarded. Benefits include 100% coverage of health insurance premiums, flexible hours and profit-sharing. Non-sales employees receive quarterly bonus plans, while salespeople control their own pay.
There are no multiple layers of management, so the owners’ doors are always open.
That open-door policy said one employee, “Encourages creativity and makes sure the customers and employees are taken care of.”
On top of that, each quarter, the staff sits down to discuss what is working and what needs improvement.
“I like that our management asks us how things are going and if we have any issues,” said an employee. “They are always available to us in the event there are issues, but to be honest there rarely are issues around here.”
Still, it happens.
“My husband is in the Army, and when we found out we were moving to New York, I thought I would have to leave Sidepath,” one employee said. “Instead, they offered me a position working from home and allowed me the flexibility I needed during the two months of transition.”
As Andronaco put it, “You want to be there to support everyone you can.”
Just as important as professional growth is personal growth, or what Andronaco likes to call “forced family time.” That includes couples-only overnight date nights at the Ritz-Carlton during the holiday employee appreciation gala and annual all-expenses-paid company trips for the entire family.
Last year employees got their pick of fun in the sun of Cabos San Lucas with the kids or a couples-only cruise to Alaska.
Andronaco, a grandfather of three, has a soft spot for the family trips.
“Seeing all the kids get together and play creates that emotional tie,” he said. “If people were getting attractive offers, it would be tough for them to leave. It’s tough to leave the family.”
Back at the office, the staff gets treated to weekly catered lunches and games of billiards or ping-pong anytime they like.
“Sidepath takes care of their own, investing in their lives so that the employees will want to contribute 120%,” one worker said.
In its 14-year history, Sidepath has never lost an employee to a competitor. But it’s recruited its share of highly sought-after talent through word of mouth, and that has helped grow the company to a comfortable size.
Andronaco once told the Register to grow beyond 50 employees “could hurt our culture,” and he still stands by that statement. But if the right people were to come along?
“Well, we probably would shatter that 50 mark,” he said.
U.S. headquarters: Laguna Hills
OC locations: 1
OC employees: 46
Years named a Top Workplace: 5
“These are folks that don’t need to be managed. They’re self-motivated, thirsty for knowledge and looking to get that high-five from the client. This may sound weird, but these are folks that are better than Jim and I.” Patrick Mulvee, VP of sales at Sidepath