Small firm, big benefits

Fast-growing Knight Point acts like a much larger company

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce

Knight Point Systems’ strategy for attracting and retaining employees is straightforward: Offer the same or better benefits than larger companies. “Our benefits are better than 95 percent of the companies in the government/information technology services industry,” says the company’s chief operating officer, Doug Duenkel.

One of its most popular benefits is the company’s employee referral program where employees receive a $1,500 bonus for every person referred who completes 90 days of employment. “Our employees only send over the best people,” Duenkel says. “Our best possible method of hiring is to have a referral.”

The turnover rate at the fast-growing company is about half of the industry average, which is 15 percent.

The Reston-based business provides IT services, including cloud services and application technology such as Microsoft Sharepoint, that help federal government agencies and corporations consolidate and optimize their data centers. From 2006 to 2010, revenue grew 1,177.3 percent, landing it on the Inc. 500 list in 2010.

The company also ranked as the top technology company last year in the Fantastic 50, an annual list of the 50 fastest-growing companies in Virginia.

NewsIn 2011, Knight Point won six new prime contracts including a $200 million eight-year contract with the Defense Information Services Agency. “As a small business, you want to win as many direct contracts as you can,” Duenkel says. “We bid on 25 contracts and were awarded 18. That’s a 72 percent success rate.”

The company emphasizes employee training, a large component of its four corporate values — candor, competence, confidence and commitment. “When an employee starts with us, the management team helps guide that employee to the right certification for his or her position,” Duenkel says.

Knight Point pays for training and certifications. “A lot of time those classes and certification tests are expensive,” Duenkel says, noting that a project management professional certification can cost $4,500 for training alone. As an incentive, each employee who has agreed to training receives a monetary holiday bonus at the end of the year.

Duenkel sees the training as a win/win/win for the employee, company and customer. “The employee wins because he or she gets the training,” he says. “Customers win because they have a more trained resource, and we win because we have a better trained employee.”

In 2011, Knight Point implemented an Emerging Leaders Program that is conducted by the company’s executive management and attended outside of regular business hours. Eight employees were chosen for the yearlong program after submitting an application. They will graduate in July 2012. “The program seems to be working out great,” Duenkel says. “The people we have are outstanding. We want to build on their strengths and develop leaders in the company.” After graduation, the class will attend a leadership conference.

Employees at Knight Point also enjoy summer and winter corporate outings and gym memberships that are paid by the company. “People love [the gym] memberships,” Duenkel says. “In our Mississippi office, we had a ‘Biggest Loser’ contest and 10 employees lost 225 pounds collectively.”

The company also recognizes two employees of the year annually and sends them and their spouses on a trip, this year to Cancun, Mexico. “This is the fourth year we have done this,” Duenkel says.

Employees at Knight Point make a contribution to society through the company’s philanthropic efforts. In the last three years Knight Point has donated more than $106,000 total. “A lot of our philanthropy goes to veteran-oriented causes,” Duenkel says. “Each of the satellite sites comes up with a different initiative. Our Stennis, Miss., location had a wounded warrior fishing tournament, for example.” The company’s other locations are Ogden, Utah; Chicago; Orlando; Tucson, Ariz.; Philadelphia and Oklahoma City.

Knight Point has taken a step-by-step approach over the years in implementing its benefits program. “We began our philanthropy and training when we opened,” Duenkel says. “The rest came year-by-year as we felt like we could afford it and build it in.”

Best Places to Work overview

Employer survey results

TOP SMALL EMPLOYER:  Knight Point Systems
Best Places to Work in Virginia:  List of Small Employers

Best Places to Work in Virginia:  List of Midsize Employers

TOP LARGE EMPLOYER: Edward Jones Investments
Best Places to Work in Virginia:  List of Large Employers

Commentary by Genevieve Roberts

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