Until a couple of years ago, SkyOak Financial wasn’t big enough to qualify as one of Oregon Business magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

When the Medford-based wealth management and financial planning firm crested the requisite 15-employee level, however, the company found itself in good company.

After debuting at No. 4 in the small company division, SkyOak moved up to No. 3 in the 2018 rankings released this month. Eight companies identifying themselves with Jackson County made the Best 100 — two large, two medium, and four small firms.

SkyOak Financial Chief Operations Officer Derek Davis was pleasantly surprised when the results — based on employee ­surveys — were announced.

“I was surprised to be on the list last year, because our highest priority as a company isn’t our employees,” Davis said. “Our highest priority is our clients, and employees are No. 2, which usually doesn’t bode well if you are expecting to be ranked high in anything.”

The secret, so to speak, is that the employees are motivated to make others succeed.

“Everybody here enjoys helping people, and we’re in the business of helping our clients,” Davis said. “So when our employees go home at night, they feel good. We’re big fans of Southern Oregon, and our advisors come in every day with the mindset of taking care of our community; it’s a great industry for selfless type of people.”

Rogue Credit Union, a perennial front-runner, was No. 3 among large companies with 100 or more employees.

“We have three primary strategic goals that include take care of our members, take care of our staff, and be financially sound,” CEO Gene Pelham said. “We take our employee satisfaction seriously and know that the foundation of our success is our dedicated staff providing member-focused service.”

Pelham said taking care of employees is part of RCU’s organizational DNA, respecting staff and giving them a voice in the organization. The board even takes employee morale into consideration during Pelham’s annual performance evaluation.

Another stalwart in the annual listings is U.S. Cellular, whose regional office is in Medford. The wireless telephone company was No. 4 in the large company listings. The No. 1 large company was Crystal Greens Landscape of Clackamas.

Energy firm Avista Utilities, whose regional office is in Medford, was No. 9 among companies with 35 to 99 employees, while Ashland’s Adroit Construction was No. 17. The winner of the medium-sized division was McMinnville tax research company TTR.

SkyOak Financial, competing in the small company division with 15 to 34 employees, registered a 553.29 rating, tops among all local businesses.

Jackson County Physical Therapy was No. 16, Core Business Services was No. 22, and RHT Energy was No. 27.

Labor and benefits law firm Barran Liebman of Portland was the top small company.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.