Several Southern Oregon companies have persevered through the challenges of a rough economy to be included in the latest Top 100 Best Companies To Work For In Oregon.

Several Southern Oregon companies have persevered through the challenges of a rough economy to be included in the latest Top 100 Best Companies To Work For In Oregon.

Led by U.S. Cellular's regional hub office in Medford, seven companies with headquarters or regional outposts earned a spot on the Oregon Business Magazine's list for 2013.

U.S. Cellular finished first in the large-firm division (100-plus employees), edging out Perkins Coie, a Portland law firm. Oregon Research Institute of Eugene was third. Rogue Federal Credit Union moved up to No. 7 from No. 14, while the Grange Co-op of Central Point was No. 11, after not being ranked in 2012.

It was the fifth time in nine years U.S. Cellular has nabbed the top ranking, most recently in 2008.

Roberta Winger, the company's Oregon and California sales director, said the competition provides the Chicago-based company both internal and external insight.

"It's all confidential so we get some solid feedback from our associates," Winger said. "We also see what comes across from all the other companies, so we can see what is important and can be used within our company. There are different types of things that come out in the work environment. We've found that flex schedules and part-time work appeal to different associates."

U.S. Cellular operated a 160-person call center in downtown Medford until 2005. Today, it has 50 people based here in sales and support capacity, and has 150 in the region.

In the medium classification, 35 to 99 employees, Slalom Consulting of Portland took the top spot. Adroit Construction was a mainstay in the rankings until last year when it failed to enter. But the Ashland firm regained its status in convincing fashion by zipping up to No. 4 in the medium-size division.

"It's important to engage our employees and keep engaged in the community," Adroit President Bob Mayers said. "When you've got great employees, you latch on to great clients; that's why Adroit exists. Without those employees and clients, there would be no Adroit."

Five years ago, the company had 130 employees, but diminished demand has trimmed the workforce to 90, Mayers said. Still, the company has continued its regular safety awards and Employee of the Quarter gatherings.

"It's challenging," he said. "But we've kept those things in place and everyone is stepping up. The key is communication with employees; if they know their company and the economic times they align and give more in those times even when there is less."

The small firms were headed up by law firm Barran Liebman of Portland. Jackson County Physical Therapy was No. 4, while Ashland-based Dagoba, an organic chocolate maker that's a unit of Hershey Co., was No. 5. Quantum Innovations of Central Point, which produces specialized coatings, was No. 34. The company is owned by Norm Kester.

It was second time in three years Jackson County Physical Therapy, owned by Justin Carson and Tim Palmesano, made the list. It was No. 32 two years ago.

Some 273 companies, employing more than 13,000 people in Oregon, completed the annual competition. Rankings are based on employee surveys and an employer benefits survey. The employee survey accounts for 83 percent of the score, covering work environment, management and communications, decision-making and trust, career development and learning and benefits and compensation. The employer analysis accounts for the remaining 17 percent.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at Edge.