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Published February 04 2011

Sundog rethinks the office: North Dakota Young Professionals vote company best place to work

Think your office is cool? Chances are Sundog’s office is cooler.

Step off the elevator onto the Fargo marketing and technology firm’s floor and you’re greeted by a flat-screen television playing music videos. Take a spin around the office and you’ll bump into an indoor gazebo, a hallway lined with personal photos from employees, and a creative department that features both a Playstation and a Pac-Man machine.

In the meeting room dubbed the “wine cellar,” you’ll find, well, wine. In the break room-turned-full kitchen-turned-meeting space, you’ll find beer.

Throw in a boss who preaches trust and results, employees who liken each other to family, and a client portfolio that includes some of the most prominent names in the region, and you’ve got the company the North Dakota Young Professionals group named Thursday as the best place to work in the state in 2010.

The award, based on questionnaires from applicants and selected by NDYP judges, focused on company benefits, advancement opportunities, and working environment.

Among the factors that put Sundog, an office of 60-plus employees, on top: flexible working hours, a dedicated professional development program to cultivate and reward expertise, and regular social events that encourage family participation.

“It’s a unique culture,” said Bobbiann Froemke, a Sundog account lead and marketing analyst. “It’s fun here. Everybody’s very close, and I think that’s rare.”

Froemke ticked off a number of reasons why she’s enjoyed her eight-plus years with the company: An open-door environment (nearly a door-free one, actually, thanks to the open layout of the office), managers who welcome new ideas and work with younger professionals, and an “awesome” set of co-workers.

She also said it’s rewarding to turn out meaningful projects for the company’s roster of clients, which includes Bobcat, Sanford Health, and Fridley, Minn.-based medical-tech giant Medtronic.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of it,” Froemke said.

Sundog co-founder and chief executive Brent Teiken credits the company’s culture to a well-defined vision of success and a careful focus on hiring employees who are a good fit.

“We make sure that the people here are self-directed, intelligent, and really get what we’re trying to do here,” he said. He said the hip, fun office environment works because it’s counterbalanced by clear performance expectations and a results-oriented focus.

“There’s a lot of trust,” he said. He also said he’s proud of the company’s success in blending young talent with more experienced professionals.

Chuck Tomanek, team lead for solutions engineering, said he enjoys the freedom the company gives him to pursue areas of interest and experiment with new technologies – not to mention the freedom to work around the responsibility of having young children at home.

“This is the only job I’ve had like this,” said Tomanek, who has been with the company for six years. “We all have kind of a ‘work hard, play hard’ attitude.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502