MOVERS & SHAKERS: Bob Pritchett sees steady growth at Logos

In the span of 8 years, Bob Pritchett has turned Logos Bible Software into one of the largest employers in...

By Ryan Wynne

During a year when a lot of businesses closed or struggled to stay afloat, Logos Bible Software grew. And in 2010, as most companies pushed employees into higher levels of productivity, employees at Logos voted it one of the best places to work in Washington.

Logos is an electronic publisher of biblical references and scholarly works, and “growth” is its middle name.

Logos grew more than 40 percent in 2010 and had sales valued at upward of $25 million. While 40 percent year-over-year growth is impressive, it grew even faster in its first five years. At that time, it grew 100 percent per year, company CEO and co-founder Bob Pritchett said.

Pritchett attributes the company’s success to its product.

“We build a great product and our customers like it,” he said.

But it’s not just the caliber of product, it’s also the functionality of it. Logos Bible Software is used for sermons and by students. That usefulness makes the product less susceptible to economic ebbs and flows, Pritchett said.

“People don’t stop going to church when there’s a recession,” he said.

In 2002, Logos moved to Bellingham from Oak Harbor. At that time, the company had 45 employees. Today Logos employs approximately 200 people, Pritchett said, and nearly a quarter of them came from Western Washington University.

If you aren’t impressed by the aforementioned growth, this may do it for you: In 2010 Logos bought its second Bellingham building, and it’s a big one. The company  purchased the Flatiron Building, which is one of the tallest downtown, and the company was praised by Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike for doing so.

“Logos Bible Software is one of Bellingham’s largest employers and a very important downtown tenant. Their commitment to remaining downtown and expanding into this building provides tremendous community and economic benefits,” Pike said in an April press release.

Pritchett recognizes the importance of having large employers downtown and said he wished more large employers would locate there.

When he moved Logos to Bellingham in 2002, he considered moving to the city’s outskirts — if he had set up outside city limits, his company could have avoided Bellingham’s business and occupation tax.

“But nothing was as good as downtown in terms of lifestyle and where we want to be every day,” Pritchett said. “I think Bellingham’s downtown is a fantastic asset and it has a great feel. You get the density of being in an urban area, but it’s not overcrowded or incredibly expensive like Seattle or a larger city, and we love being on the street. Our employees are out in the restaurants and coffee shops and shopping at lunch and I’m doing the same.”

By staying downtown, Pritchett made his business a place where he wants to work, and that mentality is probably what earned Logos a spot on the Puget Sound Business Journal‘s list of Washington’s top 20 best workplaces in 2010. The placement was based largely on employee satisfaction surveys.

According to the list, salaried employees at Logos make an average of $62,400 a year and non-salaried employees make an average of $30,800; the company also pays 90 percent of health insurance premiums and offers a 401(K).

“I try to create an environment that’s a place I want to work,” Pritchett said. And that seems to make it a place where a lot of others want to work.

Keeping Logos employees satisfied means providing them with the right tools, such as good computers, chairs and desks, and it means paying them fairly, Pritchett said. He also thinks having a pretty skimpy employee handbook, minimal rules and being reasonably flexible probably helps.

Logos is also family friendly, Pritchett said. In addition to including family members in Logos gatherings, a lot of employees at the company are related. Pritchett said about 40 Logos employees work with relatives.

Pritchett goes a little further than just supplying the basics, though — there’s an office espresso machine for employees.

“The employees are the ones who build the company. In many ways, they are the company,” he said.

If employees aren’t happy, Pritchett said, customers won’t be either.

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