Mackenzie Maher, Makenna Johnson, Kate Lobel, Amanda Windsor, and Pat Kriedler of Power Digital Marketing.

Mackenzie Maher, Makenna Johnson, Kate Lobel, Amanda Windsor, and Pat Kriedler of Power Digital Marketing. Photo by Bob Thompson/Fotowerks

Power Digital Marketing’s strong employee culture didn’t just emerge.

The company took a proactive role in creating and driving it. Witness the company’s culture committee, which meets once a month to brainstorm ideas and plan accordingly. Flowing from this are themed events — like bring your pet to work day — birthday celebrations, philanthropic events and a monthly social get-together.

This fosters employee buy-in for culture as they are the ones creating it. And suffice to say, the calendar is full of culture-building activities.

Along with the committee, Power Digital’s generous benefits package includes pet insurance and healthy eating programs, capped by a wellness Wednesday that’s complete with smoothie bar and catered health-centric lunches.

The company was named the San Diego Business Journal’s Best Place to Work in the Medium-size category.

“I’m so honored to be working with the most incredible people, with the most incredible leadership,” said Kate Lobel, director of public relations, in receiving the award. “Truly it’s a one of a kind environment and we’re just totally spoiled.”

This marks the second time Power Digital Marketing secured a spot on the Best Places to Work list, having done so in 2016. In 2017, the company made INC.’s list by the same name.

Power Digital helps companies understand digital marketing and realize the opportunity gaps online within their industries. Power specializes in data-propelled digital marketing through core service offerings: content marketing, SEO, paid search, public relations outreach, web development and social media. Return on investment is at the core of offerings.

The company helps employees gain expertise in realms outside digital markets, too.

Lobel heard from several of her millennial peers that while they understood the nuances and terminology of their marketing specialty, when clients shifted into discussing other areas of business, they were not so comfortable.

So Lobel proposed a general business education program for the staff, and the company leadership said yes.

Lobel designed a course with 14 sessions held during off-hours (weekdays from 7-9 a.m.) on topics ranging from product development to financial metrics to legal. Some sessions are led by guest speakers; others from the firm’s leadership. The curriculum includes preparation and quizzes.

Lobel said she would like to see everyone at the firm be able to “speak at a C-Suite level.” She was hoping for a handful of their 54 employees to show up for the course. After a dozen of the sessions, 55 percent of the staff participated.

2. Hughes Marino

Top local executive: Jason Hughes, CEO

Address: 1450 Front St., San Diego 92101

U.S. employees: 82

What they do: Tenant representation and other CRE services

Hughes Marino in 2017 became the first company to be the No. 1 Best Place to Work in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles. The company also was named the top family-owned business in Orange County and has received numerous other honors.

The San Diego office downtown is an innovative workspace with a comfortable “living” space, including a large room with a flat screen TV, billiards, shuffleboard and Ping-Pong tables, gourmet kitchen, a putting green in the entertainment area, and an on-site gym with shower facilities. It also has a guitar and baby grand piano.

Hughes Marino provides nutritious groceries and monthly tournaments to promote a healthy dose of competition and stress release. Employees frequently get off early on Fridays and are given generous time off around holidays.

Owners Jason and Shay Hughes credit the employee-focused environment with helping the company grow beyond Southern California to the Bay Area, Seattle, Chicago and New York.

3. WestPac Wealth Partners

Top local executive: Nash Subotic, CEO

Address: 4275 Executive Square, Suite 800,

La Jolla 92037

U.S. employees: 206

What they do: Privately held wealth management firm that focuses on business owners, medical professionals and athletes.

This is WestPac’s fifth consecutive appearance on the Best Places to Work list.

The local company offers flexible hours and a profit-sharing plan. It has a formal employee referral plan called “Be a Guardian Hero,” which rewards employees with a bonus for every qualified introduction. They also recognize employees monthly for their outstanding performance.

Among the unique benefits is WestPac University, an annual one-day conference for employees to hear from speakers, be inspired and connect with one another. This year’s event will be in Portland; the company encourages employees to stay to enjoy a long weekend away.

The company also has incentive trips for top performers, which include an all-expense paid trip to exclusive destinations around the world.

The companies also hosts a Christmas party for employees and spouses.

4. Seer Interactive

Top local executive: Francis Shovlin, Director of PPC

Address: 1200 F St.,

San Diego 92101

U.S. employees: 159

What they do: Digital analytics firm

Philadelphia-based Seer Interactive opened its San Diego office in 2013 and by 2017 was on the Best Places to Work list.

Seer offers paid parental leave for all new moms and dads, bonuses for employee referrals and has a profit-sharing plan. Each year the team votes on what to do for a daylong outing, and the company closes the office from Christmas Eve through New Year’s Day.

Perhaps its most unique benefit is a “Kaizen,” a $1,000 budget for every employee to use in professional development. It can be applied toward anything that will support personal or professional growth, from tennis lessons to attending conferences or enrolling in a college or graduate-level class.

Employees vote on a monthly MVP award, and there is an FYF — a weekly email chain where employees shout out other team members who’ve gone above and beyond that week.

5. Bank of Southern California

Top local executive: Nathan Rogge, CEO and president

Address: 12265 El Camino Real, Suite 100, San Diego 92130

U.S. employees: 76

What they do: Locally based community business bank.

The Bank of Southern California has grown alongside the career of CEO Nathan Rogge, who was named SDBJ Most Admired CEO in 2018 for Public Companies. When he joined the bank it had one branch in Ramona; it now has 12 locations across Southern California.

The company celebrates holidays with parties and hosts events and contests to keep employees engaged and connected. Employees also are gifted access to a semi-private gym and have the option to exercise during lunch and/or before or after work.

There are all-staff lunches to celebrate milestone anniversaries and an annual summer staff appreciation outing for employees and their families at Petco Park.

The Bank of Southern California had a 2 percent voluntary employee turnover rate in 2017.