Companies’ perks include free food – and exercise to help work it off

BOULDER — When it comes to perks offered at start-up high-tech companies and others in the Boulder Valley, it’s all about food and drink.

And when you’ve gained 10 pounds from that M&M dispenser in a local employee break room or from the catered breakfasts and other yummy treats, it’s all about the ski passes and the health club memberships.

But back to the food.

At SendGrid Inc., employees can eat as much free Chipotle menu-item food as they want, said Josh Ashton, a spokesman for the cloud software company. SendGrid’s office in downtown Boulder on Pearl Street near Ninth Street is located above a Chipotle restaurant, so the Chipotle food is meant to be a “free lunch” perk, Ashton said.

Now that the company has expanded to include offices in Larimer Square in Denver and in Orange County, California, it has opened accounts for employees to receive free food at The Market deli restaurant in Larimer Square and at a popular California lunch spot for people who work at those locations, he said.

In addition, all SendGrid employees get a company-paid, four-day work trip to Mexico once a year. While there’s work to be done during the trip, there’s also a chance to enjoy the beach in the off hours, Ashton said. SendGrid develops cloud-based software that helps web developers make sure emails reach clients and users.

With SendGrid’s “rocketship growth,” having such generous perks helps define the company culture, according to Ashton. The company has grown from about 30 people to more than 150 people in the last two years and wants to hire another 35 new people for open jobs in software development, sales, marketing and support, Ashton said.

Catered breakfasts are big at places such as Gnip Inc. in Boulder, which handles social media software, and Mocavo Inc. in Boulder, a genealogy software company. Gnip is looking to hire 12 new employees, and says the perks help create a positive company atmosphere.

“While our perks are fun – coffee accounts, daily catered breakfasts and gym memberships – we put a lot more consideration into our values and creating an atmosphere of trust and transparency,” Chris Moody, Gnip’s chief executive, said in a statement.

To work off the calories and stress of high-pressure jobs, many companies offer gym memberships, yoga sessions and in-office chair massages.

Rally Software Development Corp.’s resident yogi Jim Campbell, leads three in-house yoga sessions every week at the software cloud company. About five to 15 people typically attend each session, said Anne Greenhaw, a Rally spokeswoman. Yoga sessions are held at 7:30 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays as well as at 11:30 a.m. on Fridays.

VolkBell Property & Casualty LLC, doing business as VolkBell, offers $10 chair-massage sessions every other Friday, said Ryan Volk, a principal there.

Gym memberships range from corporate discount rates for Vail Resorts’ employees who want to work out at the nearby Lakeshore Athletic Club in Broomfield to free city recreation center passes for city of Boulder employees. Rally Software offers a $25-per-month gym membership reimbursement.

Beverages also are huge in the Boulder Valley – including coffee, beer and milk.

Gnip has coffee accounts with two local businesses, while Mocavo has a $1,600 espresso machine. Aurora Organic Dairy offers its employees free organic milk and butter every payday, said Sonja Tuitele, a spokeswoman for the company.

SendGrid offers beer on tap all day from a beer refrigerator known as a kegarator, Ashton said.

As you might guess, Vail Resorts also offers free passes to its ski area properties to all employees, as well as discounts to Rockies baseball games, according to Kate Lessman, a spokeswoman. The ski resort company also offers discounts at its lodging properties (including beach and mountain resorts), and discounts on golfing at Vail Resorts’ golf courses, Lessman said.

Eldora Mountain Resort offers its employees free skiing, said Tavid Bingham, a spokesman for the ski area near Nederland. Eldora ski passes also are popular perks for other companies to offer to their employees — Gnip employees are given passes, according to Elaine Ellis, a company spokeswoman.

Many companies in the region also offer altruistic perks – most commonly paid time off to work on volunteer projects of their choice.

For example, Fresca Foods in Louisville gives employees paid time off to prepare boxes of food for the Emergency Family Assistance Association in Boulder and Community Food Share in Niwot, said Sonja Tuitele, a spokeswoman for Naturally Boulder, a trade group where Fresca is a member.

Rally offers its workers a six-week sabbatical of time off with full pay and benefits at their seventh year of service, said Julie DiCarlo, a Rally spokeswoman. Rally employees also can take 21 hours per year to volunteer anywhere they choose, or 1 percent of an annual employee’s annual worked hours. Gnip offers unlimited time off.

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