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Marathon Consulting 2nd Place | Small Company

Updated: July 19, 2013 - 1:16 pm

Posted: July 19, 2013

Stacy Bradshaw, Marathon Consulting's office manager, is only occasionally in the office. Her bosses wouldn't have it any other way.

When Bradshaw, who handles Marathon's back-office needs, wanted to spend more time with her family, the company said sure. She'd long since proved herself invaluable to the company's growth. Plus, considering most employees are often at client sites, Bradshaw typically fields employee questions by phone or email anyway.

"I have small children at home, so it gives me the ability to be a mom but I also have a professional life," Bradshaw said.

Having a telecommuting office manager is really in keeping with Marathon's core business strategy of developing and keeping talent, said Al Moore, president of the Virginia Beach-based information technology consulting firm.

When formed in 2006, the entire company fit in a booth at lunch; big contracts would have to wait until the company staffed-up. But Moore, and partners Harris Pezzella, Tony Cortinas and Ben Ricks, had what they thought was a great growth plan.

"We felt if we were getting the right people, training them, keeping them, it would pay off," Moore said.

Since then, the company has developed IT solutions, such as custom mobile applications and corporate intranet design, for more than 100 mid-sized professional services clients, including real estate brokerages and engineering firms. Marathon now reports revenues of $6 million.

These clients built their businesses using personal relationships. They expect to receive from Marathon the same sort of personal services they offer. With roughly 90 percent of clients being repeats, Marathon's leadership is confident it's reaping a return on its employee investment

But keeping staff is no easy task. Marathon recruits in an industry where annual turnover rates of 30 percent are the norm as employees jump from company to company seeking higher pay.

Marathon boasts an annual employee turnover rate of less than 1 percent because of the open workplace culture. Flexible work schedules are common. Partners are still in the field, including Moore who still logs billable hours with teams working with clients. Partners readily assist with any issue - professional or personal.

"It really feels like a family," said consultant Jay Agnew. "They know my wife's first name. [Vice president] Harris [Pezzella] taught my youngest son how to hit a baseball."

For Agnew, though, it's the trust bestowed upon Marathon's employees that sets the company apart from past employers. Everyone is encouraged to recruit potential consultants and clients. Quarterly all-hands meetings include open and often frank discussions about Marathon's financial health.

"We share a lot of financial information that as a private company we don't have to," said partner Tony Cortinas.

Those meetings are not one-way discussions. Agnew, Bradshaw and the rest of the staff are expected to suggest business improvements, new technology to employ and inventive benefits like the recent shift allowing overtime hours to be converted into paid time off.

"They've created an environment where it doesn't seem like work," Agnew said. "We get to do some really cool stuff."nnib

- Ben Werner

About the company

Marathon Consulting is a locally owned information technology consulting services firm, specializing in serving mid-tier businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments in the mid-Atlantic region. Privately held Marathon reported $6 million in revenues and has served approximately 100 clients since 2006. Marathon consultants, including top-level management, are encouraged to be hands-on with their clients.

Address 505 South Independence Blvd., Suite 103, Virginia Beach 23452

Phone 427-6999

Website www.marathonus.com

Top executive Al Moore, president

Number of employees 46

Benefits include:

* Zero-premium health insurance. Marathon Consulting covers the entire cost of health insurance for its employees.

* Software and hardware purchase program. To keep consultants current on technology updates, Marathon assists employees with the private purchase of new tablets, computers, software and other technology considered important to the business. Equipment purchased is the property of employees.

* Work- and family-oriented social events. Marathon staff and their families are invited to an annual holiday party, a summer party, outings to Norfolk Tides games, and other social events.

Fun factor Marathon treats the staff to a work-sanctioned afternoon at a local sports bar each year during the first Friday of the annual NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Community service CHKD Run/Walk participation. Marathon is a sponsor of the annual event and Marathon leadership serves on the event's corporate advisory board. Marathon also encourages employees and their family members to participate in the event. Employees bring their little ones, and some even bring four-legged family members.

group with a lot of personality, he said - threw him a party in advance of his wedding. Forsyth said that would have never happened at the national bank he used to work for.

"It was a bottom-line business I was in for a while," the 42-year-old said. "It was fine. It provided a living, but you're a number. Here you're not a number; you're actually part of a family."nib

- Jared Council

About the company

Chantel Ray Real Estate handles residential real estate, property management and commercial real estate.

Address 1833 Republic Road, Suite 103, Virginia Beach, 23454

Phone 717-1003

Website chantelray.com

Top executive Chantel Ray

Number of employees 35 full-time employees, two part-time employees

Benefits include

* Full salad, soup and Panini bar.

* Spray tanning machine from Rodeo Drive.

* Commercial grade juicer and healthy snack bar.

Fun Factor Ping Pong tables, Cornhole boards, Wii video game and movie area

Community service Employees give 10 percent of every dollar that comes in the door back to the community. They agreed to donate the funds to the local PIN (People in Need) ministry.