In the early years of running an energy use analysis company, Buzz Thielemann worked by himself.

In the early years of running an energy use analysis company, Buzz Thielemann worked by himself.

Then he allied with the Energy Trust of Oregon and started signing new customers, first the Medford School District, then Rogue Valley Manor and Lithia Motors.

As he signed on clients for RHT Energy Solutions, he also started hiring employees and now has a payroll of 15.

What Thielemann didn't expect, however, was to find his company listed in Oregon Business magazine's annual 100 Best Companies to Work For.

"I was sitting at the computer one day and some of the employees came in with a smile on their face and told me I had to fill out an interview form because they had applied," Thielemann said.

When the March edition hit the streets, RHT Energy Solutions was No. 18 among the magazine's top companies with 15 to 34 employees.

"It really is a thermometer of what employees are thinking," said Thielemann, whose firm now occupies an 8,000-square-foot building on Stowe Avenue in west Medford.

Today, RHT Energy Solutions counts Pacific Power, the Bonneville Power Administration, Avista, the city of Medford, Jackson County, the Medford airport, Roseburg Forest Products and Pacific Retirement Services among its clients.

"Our job is pretty easily defined," Thielemann said. "We handle energy incentives and tax credits. It's all about how much energy did you save or how much did you make. It's our job to figure it out."

Locally, RHT Energy Solutions was joined on the 100 Best list by U.S. Cellular and the Rogue Federal Credit Union, both in the large company category of more than 100 employees. U.S. Cellular ranked No. 8, while RFCU debuted at No. 14.

More than 14,000 employees from 263 companies participated in the Oregon Business magazine survey. The companies represent more than 35,000 Oregon employees and 1.2 million employees worldwide. There were 33 small and large companies on the list and 34 mid-sized businesses.

The survey took into consideration five categories:

Work environment: Flexibility and work and personal balance, diversity, teamwork and fun, workspace technology and efficiency, policies and procedures.Management and communications: Employee treatment, performance feedback, communications, discipline, rewards and acknowledgement.Decision-making and trust: Shared accountability, trust in management, collaboration and involvement, community and charity, workplace pride.Career development and learning: On-the-job training, educational support, growth opportunities and promotions, job goals and expectations.Benefits and compensation: Compensation fairness and adequacy, health/wellness plan, retirement plan, paid time off, raises and bonuses.

U.S. Cellular reeled off five-straight top-five finishes ending in 2009 before opting not to enter the past two years. The Chicago-based cellphone company with its regional office in Medford was No. 1 from 2006 through 2008. It has 160 Oregon employees.

The Medford-based Rogue Federal Credit Union, with 193 employees, made the list for the first time.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.