Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Oregon Benefit Company

Vernier Software & Technology is a registered Oregon Benefit Company, as provided for in Oregon ORS 60.750-ORS 60.770 A Benefit Company is a corporate status for companies that strive to make a positive impact on society and the environment, in addition to earning a profit. The Oregon statute gives clarity to the managers of a company that their fiduciary duty includes creation of a public benefit and consideration of non-financial interests. The purpose is to create a general public benefit, which is defined as “a material positive impact on society and the environment, taken as a whole, from the business and operations of the company.”

The specific public benefit of Vernier Software & Technology, as stated in our operating agreement, includes

  • Creation of an innovative technology-based array of products for science, math, and engineering education
  • Assisting educators in increasing students’ critical-thinking skills through hands-on learning
  • Encouraging a healthy, team-oriented workplace where active and sustained responsibility for our environment is a high priority.

As a Benefit Company, Vernier is required to “assess the extent to which the Benefit Company provides a general public benefit and any specific public benefit identified in the Benefit Company’s articles of organization against a third-party standard.” For this assessment, we used the B Impact Assessment, revision 5. This is an assessment tool provided by B Lab, a nonprofit organization that promotes and encourages benefit companies. We thank B Lab for making this assessment tool publicly available to companies such as ours.

In an unofficial completion of the assessment in April 2016, we scored 125.4 points out of a possible 200 points.

In an unofficial completion of the assessment in April 2016, we scored 125.4 points out of a possible 200 points. According to the B Lab website, the average score for an “Ordinary Business” is 51 points, 80 points for “Other Sustainable Businesses,” and 97 points for official “B-Corp” companies.

The assessment is broken down into several sections. Here is a summary of our results by section:

Section Our Score Ordinary Businesses Other Sustainable Businesses B-Corps
Workers 24 20 22 26
Customers 55.1 5 15 18
Community 19.1 15 32 44
Environment 15.5 6 9 13
Governance 11.7 6 10 14

Note that this is a self assessment, not verified by B-Labs. Note, also, that we received a large number of points for our mission of providing products for education.

Some details as to how we are meeting our goals as an Oregon Benefit Company are as follows:

Vernier employees 2010

Workers

Vernier is committed to providing a great place to work for our employees. The company has been named one of the “Best Places to Work in Oregon” for 16 years, including 2015.

Some of our employee benefits:

  • Health and dental insurance: Company pays 100% of premiums for full-time employees and their families.
  • Life insurance, disability insurance, and vision expense reimbursement are all provided.
  • 401k – Vernier has contributed 15% of our employees’ salary into a 401k plan for years, and the company did so again in 2015.
  • An S125 Plan is offered to employees for dependent care and medical reimbursement.
  • Employees are provided with a one-month (four calendar weeks) paid sabbatical after seven years of continuous employment.
  • Paid tuition assistance up to $5,250 per year is available.
  • Profit sharing is offered to qualifying employees, based on company profits and employee time worked in the previous year.
  • Annual use of two of the owners’ vacation condominium (in Sunriver, OR) for three nights, four days per year.
Our company encourages a healthy, team-oriented workplace for all employees through a variety of wellness initiatives.

Our company encourages a healthy, team-oriented workplace for all employees through a variety of wellness initiatives. We emphasize creating a working environment that is positive, professional, and yet fun for all employees.

Vernier has been on the “Healthiest Employers in Oregon” list for six years, including 2015. Some of our health-related benefits:

  • Onsite fitness center
  • Onsite shower facilities with private locker rooms
  • Weekly onsite yoga, Zumba, and ADAPT training (personal training) classes
  • Bi-weekly soccer, volleyball and basketball activities
  • Two fitness contests in 2015 for employees
Oregon Business Journal - Top 100 Best Companies to Work For 2016
Oregon Business Journal – Top 100 Best Companies to Work For 2016
Placed 4th - 2015 Healthiest Employers
Oregon Business Journal – 2015 Healthiest Employers
2016 catalog cover: engineering activity with bridge testing

Customers

Vernier has been providing easy-to-use and affordable science interfaces, sensors, graphing/analysis software, and curriculum for 35 years. With world-wide distribution to over 130 countries, our products are used by educators and students from elementary school to college. Focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Vernier is dedicated to developing creative ways to teach and learn using hands-on science.

We have the best customers in the world—educators.

We have the best customers in the world—educators. Vernier was founded by a former physics teacher and our technical support and product development group has over 100 years of combined teaching experience. Teachers constantly tell us that we offer the best technical support in our field when compared to other technical businesses.

We love our customers and we strive to provide products that will help teachers teach and students learn.

Read our customer success stories »

Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity

Community

  • The company donated $87,508 to non-profit organizations in 2015.
  • The company donated more than $346,000 in Vernier software and hardware products in 2015.
  • Four hours of paid volunteer time per month is available to each employee to use at a non-profit in the community.
  • Vernier matches employee contributions to non-profits (up to $1,000 per employee, per year).
  • For 10 years, Vernier has provided sponsorship and volunteers to pack and deliver backpacks to all students at a local school.

Read more about Vernier philanthropy »

Portland Business Journal – Corporate Philanthropy Award
Portland Business Journal – Corporate Philanthropy Award
Vernier Green Team

Environment

Our goal is to provide an environmentally responsible and healthy workplace for our employees.

Vernier has been named one of the “Best Green Companies in Oregon” for eight years, including 2015. In 2015, our building, with its new addition, was awarded a LEED Gold designation. As part of pursuing that designation, we reviewed our processes and purchasing, and we are documenting what we do more closely so we can track our progress.

There are a number of innovative environmental features at our building, including Zipcars, a bike room, and 17,000 watts of solar panels. A TriMet (local transportation agency) annual transit pass is provided to every employee. (The light rail station is about 200 meters or yards from our office.) We have a worm composting bin, a bee hive, bat houses, and two bioswales. We have blueberry bushes and fruit trees to provide fruit for employees during the summer.

As a LEED-qualified company, we maintain purchasing guidelines, and our policy puts an emphasis on purchasing material with high post-consumer content and buying products and equipment that have an Energy Star rating. Our green building efforts have earned us an Energy Star performance rating of 90.

Our goal is to provide an environmentally responsible and healthy workplace for our employees.

The company places a strong emphasis on providing stellar customer service with a generous warranty and repair policy for our customers that can lengthen the life of our products for educators. We strive for our customers to not only have success right out of the box, but we work to provide continued support as they utilize our products in their classrooms for years to come. We design and purchase all products to have the least amount of environmental impact possible.

We use packing material with high recycled content, use soy-based print ink, and guide customers to our website for software and documents rather than including plastic CDs.

We have an active Green Team, led by our on-staff certified Metro Master Recycler. The Green Team members continually look at our practices, educate employees, and reward and recognize efforts for keeping our company lean and green.

Read more about Vernier and the environment »

Oregon Business - Best Green Companies in Oregon 2015
Oregon Business – Best Green Companies in Oregon 2016
Dave and Chris opening the new building addition at headquarters

Governance

The company was founded in 1981 by David and Christine Vernier. The Verniers are gradually selling shares of the company to long-time, key employees, including the addition of two partners in 2015. There are currently 12 active partners and three retired partners. In 2015, David Vernier stepped down as CEO, and long-time partner, John Wheeler, was named CEO. David and Christine, who are still full time at the company, are serving as Co-Presidents. Our goal is to continue as a privately held company that cares for its employees, customers and the community. We feel we are making a difference in how science is taught and how kids learn.

Read more about the Vernier story »

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