At Buildertre­nd, a con­struc­tion-man­age­ment soft­ware com­pany in Omaha, Ne­braska, co-founders Dan Houghton, Jeff Dug­ger, and Steve Dug­ger are known as “the Bobs.” A ref­er­ence to Of­fice Space, it’s an in­side joke, as Houghton and the Dug­ger brothers are noth­ing like the cost-cut­ting con­sul­tants of that 1999 film. Buildertre­nd em­ploy­ees have ac­cess to a long list of ac­tiv­i­ties, an on­site gym and yoga stu­dio, live mu­sic events, and sports tour­na­ments. The com­pany also holds monthly life-skills ses­sions that cover top­ics rang­ing from fi­nan­cial fit­ness to stress man­age­ment to wine tast­ing.

There’s even a com­pany bar, where Buildertre­nd of­fers free snacks, wine and beer, and a lift home. “If you’ve had too much and take an Uber, we’ve never asked ques­tions about that,” Houghton says.

You could say beer was foun­da­tional. Prior to start­ing Buildertre­nd, Houghton and the Dug­gers were high school best friends. In 2006, the re­cent col­lege grad­u­ates were back work­ing in their home­town. Houghton sold in­sur­ance soft­ware while the Dug­gers took con­sult­ing jobs build­ing web­sites for lo­cal busi­nesses. Then—over beers—the brothers told Houghton that home­builder clients were ask­ing for tools to man­age their projects. Steve Dug­ger sug­gested the three of them quit their jobs and start a com­pany. It wasn’t just the beer talk­ing.

“I said, ‘Wow, this is a huge mar­ket—great idea,’ ” Houghton re­calls. Within two months, the trio had a ba­sic soft­ware prod­uct and a $4,000 check from their first cus­tomer—al­though they lacked a com­pany bank ac­count. To­day, Buildertre­nd’s cloud-based soft­ware is the gold stan­dard for builders, re­mod­el­ers, and spe­cialty con­trac­tors. Fif­teen per­cent of new sin­gle-fam­ily homes in the U.S. are built on it—that amounts to 713,075 jobs worth $147 bil­lion in 2019 alone.

The co-founders say their great­est source of pride is a cul­ture that puts life over work for the com­pany’s 550 em­ploy­ees. One of Buildertre­nd’s mantras is “Life out­side these four walls is more im­por­tant.” Another: “No ass­holes al­lowed.” That means sup­port­ing em­ploy­ees with flex­i­ble work poli­cies and ben­e­fits. Us­ing em­ployee feed­back, the com­pany cre­ated a Pick Your Perk pol­icy that re­im­burses $1,000 of per­sonal ex­penses per year for things like travel, a down pay­ment on a house, and child care costs. Want more time off? Get re­im­bursed by ad­di­tional per­sonal days. Le­gal fees, adop­tion, and in­fer­til­ity as­sis­tance also qual­ify.

Eric Fis­cher, a vice pres­i­dent of cus­tomer suc­cess who’s worked at Buildertre­nd since 2014, chose to be re­im­bursed for a fam­ily ski trip to Colorado. The va­ca­tion would have been his chil­dren’s first time ski­ing, but Covid-19 forced ski re­sorts to close. In his case, it will have to be the thought that counts. “Car­ing about peo­ple and putting them and their fam­i­lies first cre­ates more mo­ti­va­tion to show up and work your butt off every day,” he says. “It makes peo­ple want to stick around.” —GRA­HAM WIN­FREY

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