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Notes on napkins

Founders’ dinner discussions led to IT firm’s credo

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“People have a choice to be here, and they want to be here,” says
Mary Kerski of Definitive Logic. Photo by Stephen Goslin

2019 Virginia Business Best Places to Work
Top Midsize Employer

Officials at Definitive Logic Corp. say its people-centric culture is a big plus for employees and clients.

“That’s what sets us apart from other companies,” says Mary Kerski, director of technology and integration operations. “In orientation we talk about our credo principles. We preach you don’t work for Definitive Logic; you work with Definitive Logic.

People have a choice to be here, and they want to be here.”

Paul Burke and Jeremy Fisher started the Arlington-based IT firm in 1999. Since then, it has grown to more than 180 employees, many of whom work at client locations around the nation.

“Both of our owners worked at other consulting firms in the area,” says Kerski. “They went out to dinner together and talked about the things they would do differently if they had their own organization. What they wrote on napkins became the company’s credo.”

The company primarily serves government contractors through its two divisions — technology integration, which includes enterprise integration, business intelligence and analytics; and business transformation, which provides data-driven insights for strategic planning and management.

The firm’s hiring process is very selective. “When you come in here, you are working with other experts, people with a strong work ethic doing things they want to do,” says Kerski. “Everybody is excited about new opportunities.”

Employees develop relationships because of their common professional interests, she said.

“You are performing work with people you respect, people you want to work with, and you are working on things you want to work on,” says Kerski. “This is a team to the point of being a family.”

Company benefits include health, dental and vision insurance as well as tuition reimbursement (up to $5,250 annually), parking reimbursements (up to $250 a month) and paid transit benefits (up to $200 month). Employees also are offered paid training and referrals as well as business development bonuses.

“We allow … people to pursue additional degrees as long as they go through our approval process,” Kerski says.

Employees are eligible for paid sabbaticals (one to three weeks every five years) and eight hours of volunteer time a year. “If they volunteer one to four hours, the company makes a $50 an hour payment to the charity. After four hours, we give $100 an hour to the charity up to $800, which is donated at the end of the year,” Kerski says.

Employees also get the opportunity to bond through a variety of extra-curricular activities. Each year features a winter trip to a Caribbean destination for all employees and their companions and/or family. The event is typically held over Martin Luther King weekend in January.

The long weekend trip gives employees a chance to relax, socialize and “take in the sights and/or enjoy the activities the resort has to offer,” says Kerski, adding this year’s destination is Riviera Maya in Mexico.

The company also hosts a Summer Kickoff Party for employees, family, friends and clients. This event is held every year aboard the Cherry Blossom Riverboat, which docks outside of the Chart House in Old Town Alexandria. “Employees get to socialize,” Kerski says. “It’s a thank you for all the work you do.”

Summer is also time for the company’s all-you-can-eat Crab Fest for employees and their guests. The company additionally holds a variety of seasonal activities such as Halloween for Kids, Kids at Heart, Pot Luck Thanksgiving and a holiday party. Year- round activities include a chili cookoff, team lunches and dinners and sporting events to watch DC United, Washington Nationals and Washington Capitals games.

When employees need to lessen their stress they can take time to play Nerf war. “We did a Nerf war and stocked the office with Nerf guns so people could blow off steam and de-stress,” Kerski says.

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