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Photography by Olivia Ross / StratusGrid team members.

* Year established: 2019, with a rebrand in 2020

* Employees: 50, with some Chattanooga-based and most distributed across the U.S., Spain and Colombia, with plans to expand into Ireland

* Milestones: StratusGrid began 2020 with three employees after a change in ownership and leadership, finished the year with 20 and is now at 50 and counting. The company's growth is the result of a combination of factors, including a focus on understanding and serving its customers' needs, but it's also a direct result of a commitment to cultivating a culture that empowers and values people, says CEO Chris Hurst.

"If you're not paying attention to the team, the company becomes disbalanced and starts tipping," he says. "You may be profitable in the short-term, but not long term."

Finding the balance between serving the market, the owners and investors, and the people who make up the business is the most important role of leadership, Hurst says.

"Culture really ties into every single piece of that," he says. "Culture dictates your ability to be innovative, to have people trust you."

Creating a level playing field for a distributed workforce across multiple time zones is one essential element, he adds.

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Photography by Olivia Ross / StratusGrid team members.

"We do our best to make sure it's inclusive for people not at headquarters," Hurst says. "If we have a meeting, we are all hopping into a Google Meet even if most of us are here."

* Why this is a Best Place to Work: StratusGrid is a cloud-first professional and managed information technology services company and Advanced AWS [Amazon Web Services] Consulting Partner with a globally distributed team headquartered in Chattanooga. We are highly invested in supporting, developing, coaching, and mentoring our people both personally and professionally through training, certifications, gamification, and more. We even have a dedicated Flight Instructor whose purpose is to build customized growth plans for each and every member of the StratusGrid team, including executive leadership. But the best part about StratusGrid is that the culture is purposeful, real, honest, ever-improving, and always a primary focus of leadership. There's tons of growth, flexibility, good work-life balance and autonomy.

* Quotable, from CEO Chris Hurst: "We're intentional about culture, about not letting it happen as a side effect of doing business, but making it an integral part of the business. For us, it just makes it a place we want to work. I like going to work, and I like the people I work with and the feeling of working here, and that's important to me."

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