All in a Day's Work: 15 Cool Companies
CULTURE IS KING
Marshall Medical Center
1100 Marshall Way, Placerville
One of the few remaining independent hospitals in California, Marshall Medical Center has been steadily climbing the ranks in hospital ratings since 1959. With land originally donated by Michigan-California Lumber Company in Placerville, the main acute care hospital has expanded exponentially to include numerous primary and specialty care clinics all throughout El Dorado County. “The ‘little hospital on the hill’ is recognized as one of the best in the nation for quality outcomes and patient experience by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” says Lourdes Edralin, director of marketing and community relations. What’s more, every fall (September 8 this year), they sponsor the Women's Health Expo and 5K Fun Run in El Dorado Hills, which they encourage employees to train for and participate in.
For the win: Marshall is a verified Level 3 Trauma Center with a distinguished stroke response team, a designated “Baby Friendly” hospital by UNICEF and WHO, and home to some of the most recent technology in medicine, like the DaVinci Robotic Surgery System, which allows for minimally invasive surgeries.—AM
Red Hawk Casino
1 Red Hawk Parkway, Placerville
The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians decided to honor the past and celebrate the future with the addition of Red Hawk Casino in December 2008. Since opening, it’s proven to be a much-appreciated addition to the community and has garnered 100-plus awards for offerings like their brunch and live music. Besides boasting beautiful views in a refreshingly natural setting, guests also love the famous Kids Quest, which allows children to play in a safe, fun, and secure indoor playground with supervision by highly trained staff. What’s more, a whopping 20 percent of Red Hawk’s employees have been there since day one, a testament to the outstanding way the casino is run.
Give where you live: Red Hawk frequently gives back to the community with donations to charitable organizations dedicated to bettering the region and sponsorships for large community events.—AM
5072 Hillsdale Circle, Suite 110, El Dorado Hills
In 1992, five independent insurance agents began weekly meetings to address the pressures of rising company volume requirements, profit sharing minimums, and general business pressures. PIIB was formed from those meetings as a means to enable their individual agencies to be more successful. Since then, PIIB has also helped more than 250 independent insurance agencies achieve success. “Independent by choice and united for strength” remains the company’s vision. PIIB currently represents companies in a total of nine states, from Washington to Texas and everywhere in between. Each affiliate has direct access to individual companies, making it more efficient for every agency involved. In less than 25 years, the brokers have grown the company from seven to over 200 affiliates—proof that their model is working.
Chew on this: It’s safe to say that any office that allows dogs is a happy office. Each of the employees at PIIB can bring furry friends to work, which is just one of the reasons this insurance broker company is ahead of the game.—AM
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
Placerville News Company
409 Main Street, Placerville
This family-owned and operated gift shop has been a Placerville staple since 1912, giving it the remarkable title of California’s fifth oldest business. Generations have put years of labor and love into making the gift shop what it is today, with “the same values of superior customer service and exceptional variety of merchandise” since the store’s inception, fourth generation owner Jeff Meader says. This exceptional variety is evident in the specially selected books, magazines, art supplies, newspapers, and cards, in addition to the new Hallmark Gold Crown addition and music counter. Being a cornerstone of the community has given the family an opportunity to serve multiple generations of customers, now an extension of the Placerville News Company family.
If these walls (and floors!) could talk: All this is housed in a rare pressed tin and cast-iron facade, manufactured by the Mesker Brothers in 1898. In fact, the oak plank floors are original, too!—AM
Historic Cary House Hotel
300 Main Street, Placerville
What do Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant, and Bette Davis have in common? They’ve all stayed at the beautiful Historic Cary House Hotel—a Placerville institution for over 160 years, thanks to its authentic “historic ambience paired with modern amenities.” Case in point: The hotel, built in 1857 by William Cary, provides its guests with free Wi-Fi and in-room coffee but is also home to the second oldest functioning elevator this side of the Mississippi.
Ghost hunters: Amateur and professional ghost hunters (yes, you read that correctly) regularly visit the hotel. The staff isn’t in full agreement about the authenticity of the “haunted” claim, but multiple guests each month report some sort of paranormal activity. Either way, all of the ghosts reported have been friendly—or at least non-confrontational.—AM
441 Main Street, Placerville
For more than 66 years, the Fausel family has continuously operated Placerville Hardware. It’s a nostalgic and charming stop for picking up novelty items like gold pans but also a neighborhood convenience with friendly and personalized service to boot, offering everything from fishing poles and sprinklers to hand tools, furniture, and gifts for any occasion. “If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist,” says Melissa Fausel. The shop boasts its original hardwood floors, too—complete with square flooring nails, rolling ladders, and historic brickwork.
Old Hangtown, indeed: The store itself is more than 166 years old, making it the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi.—LM
339 Main Street, Placerville
In 1888, William Hill Combellack registered as a merchant on Main Street in Placerville. In 1910, his son took over, followed by his own two sons. Today, William’s great-granddaughter Gayle, (wo)mans the store and keeps the family legacy intact. Offering high-quality mens- and womens-wear, this local outfitter offers personal touches that are rarely found, such as free gift wrapping and hemming.
Not a department store: Gayle is always in the store, and, unlike many department stores, you’ll never feel like you’re playing hide-and-go-seek trying to find someone to help you—employees are good for assistance, style opinions, and a friendly chat.—LM
FOOD & DRINK PURVEYORS
Auburn, 415-375-1716, graciaschocolate.com
Jessica Osterday started Gracias Chocolate in 2014, hoping to create a chocolate that “charmed the senses, was different from the rest, and infused with the magic of creation.” Viewing chocolate as a balm to both soul and body, Osterday sought to make a healthier product. To that end, she melds pure, unroasted Ecuadorian cacao with maca root, a superfood touted for its natural energy source, creating a rustic and memorable stone-ground texture. Her more adventurous flavors include fig balsamic with black salt and citrus habanero with hazelnuts—both of which can be found locally at Iverson Vineyards and Winery, Placerville Food Co-op, and more.
Fun fact: These chocolate bars are diet-friendly and environmentally friendly. They’re made without soy, dairy, or gluten; sweetened with coconut and maple sugar; and packaged in biodegradable wrapping.—LA
Dry Diggings Distillery
5050 Robert J Mathews Parkway, El Dorado Hills
Focused on locally produced farm fruit, grains, and wine, this distillery works with local farmers, vintners, and breweries to craft vodka, whiskey, brandy, and bourbon that represents the unique and beautiful terroir. Don’t miss the tasting room, which is beautifully decorated with nods to Northern California’s Gold Rush history.
Rye, oh, rye: As a throwback to early American-style whiskey, the Rubicon rye whiskey is double barreled in a hand-toasted and naturally fired barrel that gives it a unique taste and lingering finish. It’s named for the Rubicon Trail, a world-famous trail for off-roaders. Starting in Georgetown and ending in South Lake Tahoe, the stretch is only 17 miles, but many consider it to be the toughest “highway” in the country. It’s the same spirit that inspires the work required to produce this single-grain whiskey—it’s tough, but worth it, and no doubt creates lasting memories and stories.—LA
The Baker and the Cakemaker
Top quality organic seeds, grains, and nuts make the breads and pastries from this local company something special. Handcrafted using organic flours with attention to detail, the husband-and-wife team behind the business trained at The Culinary Institute of America and take a very hands-on approach to the bread production process. Nathan Shreve handles their long-fermented sourdough breads, supervising the baking staff in their daily break-making, while his wife Alice makes the pastries and cakes and handles marketing and development.
Available at a store near you: The Baker and the Cakemaker’s artisan breads and pastries can be found all over El Dorado County—and the surrounding region—in various grocers and restaurants, including Holida Market, Dedrick's Cheese, and more.—AM
Jollity Farm Farmstead Cheese
5314 Mari Gold Mine, Garden Valley
MaryLisa and Charley Cornell have goats galore—but they wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, the family loves their goats so much that each has a name. Established in March 2011, Jollity Farm Farmstead Cheese uses the milk from the happy and healthy goats they raise to create cheese of exceptional quality for the local community. Farmstead cheese is unique in that only the milk collected on the same farm is used to produce the cheese; according to MaryLisa, “as a result, the cheeses produced often have unique flavors owing to the farm's local terroir.” The cheese is (of course) made by hand in small batches on the farm and is the only licensed cheese plant in El Dorado County and the only farmstead goat cheese producer within 50 miles of Sacramento.
Udder delight: They also make goat milk soaps and lotions to spoil your skin with luxury!—AM
Winterhill Olive Oil
321 Main Street, Placerville,
In addition to wine, olive oil is our favorite part of the Mediterranean diet. Ideal for sautéing, salad dressings, and marinades, let’s put it this way: No dish was ever made worse by adding a bit of olive oil. This locally owned shop offers artisanal 100 percent extra-virgin olive oils and premium “pressed-with-the-fruit” oils, complete with a complimentary tasting room. In addition, you’ll find shelves full of authentic balsamic vinegars, local honey, jams, jellies, pasta, local artwork, olive wood bowls, and gourmet chocolates.
Farm-to-drizzle: Winterhill’s olives are grown locally and certified “extra virgin” from the California Olive Oil Council, which has the highest standards in the world.—LM
SMALL GONE BIG
4818 Golden Foothill Parkway, Suite 9, El Dorado Hills
Innovation meets style with these sleek belt enthusiasts, all of whom share one belief: Holes in belts are unnecessary. In 2004, founder Brig Taylor was teaching abroad in Moldova when a student presented him with a simple yet ingenious gift: a belt featuring a buckle that ratcheted into teeth-like ridges instead of a prong and worn-out holes. Taylor sought to stylize the belt and turn it into a mainstream marvel, but there was one caveat: ratcheting buckles were already public domain and a patent wouldn’t be possible until nine years later, when he improved and redesigned the buckle into a dual-ratchet lever. (He also added a bottle opener to the belt for good measure.) Today, the belts are shipped worldwide and offered in utility and fashion styles, kids’ sizes, and even vegan leather.
Job perks: Full-time employees enjoy 35-hour work weeks (paid hour-long lunches), subsidized gym memberships, chances to win money and prizes, an open vacation policy, and a game room with ping pong and VR. (Yes, they’re hiring—put in a good word for us?)—LA
4949 Windplay Drive, Suite 100, El Dorado Hills
ClearBags is the number one provider of crystal clear bags for packaging various retail items—think food, photographs, and everything in between. Their first priority is to promote, protect, and preserve their customers’ products. The company started by selling posters, but after numerous customers began purchasing the clear bags the posters came in, instead of the posters themselves, ClearBags was born. In the 26 years since, the company has evolved to function around its customers, including an expansion to Tennessee for those on the East Coast, and a custom team that constantly comes up with new and improved packaging ideas.
Did you know? ClearBags also sells boxes, stationery, and accessories to complete the packaging of any product, all available at wholesale pricing. With over 6,000 products in their inventory and ready to be shipped within one business day, it’s easy to find packaging fit for any occasion.—AM
4475 Golden Foothill Parkway, El Dorado Hills
A leader in the rail industry for over two decades, Paragon Products accounts for over 95 percent of the train fuel and lubricant market in North America. All around the world, the company is recognized as a pioneer by global diesel engine manufacturers and offers many products and services supported by patented technologies in support of fuel transfer systems, like fuel and oil pumps and valves. Engineering services are also available to troubleshoot existing functional challenges or create brand-new concepts for unique solutions. In addition to being globally recognized, Paragon is also frequently in local news. They’re a member of the El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce and sponsor and participate in many local charities and events.
Work perks: Employees are hardworking and innovative, and they have great benefits, including 100 percent company-paid health care, company picnics, and paid holidays.—AM
by Luna Anona and Alyssa Mielke
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