Keeping it Wired
Just a few blocks from Portland’s vibrant downtown district, a fast-growing company is changing the way the Oregonians experience IT management. “We try to always exceed expectations of what a computer company can be,” says Portland Internetworks CEO Doug Westervelt. The firm provides comprehensive IT support for businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. In an industry not always known for its fashion sense, the company—PDX.NET for short—also stands out with a more professional, buttoned-down business-casual look. “Lands’ End clothing really supports the impression we want to make on our clients and prospects,” says Westervelt.
Portland, of course, is famous for its quirky counterculture. “We lean into that a bit,” says Westervelt. “We have kombucha on tap and dogs in the office on Fridays.” Employee bikes are neatly parked in the front lobby of the company’s office, a rehabbed industrial building with an open plan and large windows that fill the space with light. Carved wooden bison heads adorn the building’s four corners—a typical Portlandian touch. However, Westervelt points out that the team is moving to a larger space. The small company he co-founded 21 years ago has grown into a 38-member team. “It just blows my mind,” he says.
A transfer from the Bay Area, Westervelt has brought what he calls “Silicon values” to Portland. “We tend to value human, interactive skills,” he says. “We select new employees for their trust and empathy.” Work/life balance is also important to the company. “Everyone has a life outside the office. We have brewers and photographers and rabid cyclists.” Outside work, Westervelt is a professional violist and violinist, performing with orchestras around the world.
The company is “good at recognizing talent and intelligence,” adds Human Resources Manager Cheryl Gaze. “I love that we find the right people.”
“The greatest thing is hiring people new to the industry and to see them grow,” says Westervelt. The company’s success “creates opportunity for people to move up in their careers.”
With the company’s growth has come an upgrade to the PDX.NET team’s wardrobe. “We were a dozen dudes in polos and a few Oxfords. I said, ‘Let’s class it up a little bit,’” says Westervelt, explaining that a professional appearance is key when engaging with their customers. Lands’ End clothing “really supports the impression we want to make on our clients and prospects,” he says. “We’re well dressed and well presented.” Everyone at Portland Internetworks wears logo-embroidered clothing, including dress shirts, soft blouses and sweaters. “It’s nice that there’s a large variety to choose from,” he says. “Everybody’s wearing Lands’ End, but nobody’s wearing the same Lands’ End gear.”
Customers are often surprised at the style and polished appearance of the company’s logo’d apparel, says Gaze. “I’ve heard people say, ‘Wow! You guys are really upping your game.’”
“It was really important to me to have high-quality clothing,” says Westervelt. “Our perspective is always buy a higher quality product and ultimately that will have a longer term payoff.”
“The quality has been good,” agrees Gaze, adding that the company allocates funds to each employee to order logo’d clothing. She has also ordered Lands’ End apparel and gift items as rewards for the staff including fleece tops, bags and coolers.
With 21 years in business and five years of exponential growth, there’s a lot to celebrate at Portland Internetworks. “Everything is getting better and better,” says Westervelt. “It’s good to be on the winning team.”