AUA: $19.8 billion
"Some in business use the metaphor of climbing Mount Everest together," said H. Kevin Birzer, CEO and co-founder of Tortoise, based in Leawood, Kan.
"I prefer to think about Tortoise as Colorado," with more than 50 mountain peaks, each over 14,000 feet. "How do I help our people build their own peak?"
Mr. Birzer, who has led the energy infrastructure specialist for 15 years since its founding, said great service and great performance for clients are the result of the firm's employees. "Of course, we have to grow and be profitable, but never at the expense of clients or employees."
Employees have heard that message. The four-time winner in Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management program "is not afraid to try new things," one employee wrote in the survey.
Mr. Birzer concurs. For example, he says, the company's core strength of investing in pipelines and energy transportation assets has not only allowed the firm to find opportunity throughout the energy value chain but it has opened the firm up to investments in corollary industries and activities that have similar characteristics, such as solar, renewables and water.
"Relations between teams are excellent, and I feel I can ask anyone to help or assist me and they will be willing and responsive in doing so," another employee wrote.
Employees at Tortoise say that management is "accessible and really cares about employees." There are monthly lunches for the whole company, meetings and presentations for discussion. "Benefits are amazing," and "bonus potential is very attractive," one employee noted.
Mr. Birzer expects that accessibility and care to continue, even as Tortoise starts a new chapter.
In October, the company announced a management buyout, partnering with private equity firm Lovell Minnick Partners.
"I want our employees to come in and feel motivated every day," said Mr. Birzer. "The workplace should be fun, dynamic, and enjoyable."