Baltimore is a great city. There’s amazing food (who doesn’t like pit beef and crabcakes?), awesome culture and some super-interesting people. It is the city that gave us Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell after all.
There are some great Businesses in Baltimore too. There’s a lot of innovation going on in the city, and many of its companies are leading the way in their respective fields. We’ve spent the last few months researching Balitmore’s coolest businesses for the list you see below.
Did you know that one of the world's largest manufacturers of lacrosse equipment is from Baltimore? STX make other sports equipment too, but lacrosse is their biggest market. It's Maryland's official state sport, so Baltimore is the perfect home for STX.
Lacrosse might not be a mainstream American sport but it's becoming more and more popular all the time, particularly at grass roots level. Statistics from the National Federation of State High School Associations show that participation in US schools grew by 528% in the period between 1990 and 2008. The industry is now worth more than $70 million dollars and STX is claiming a healthy share.
- Founded: 1970
- Founded By: Richard B.C. Tucker Sr.
- Industry: Sporting Goods
- Area Served: Worldwide
- Website: stx.com
Special Feature: Social Media
Everything about STX as a brand is cool. Spend five minutes on their website and you'll want your own stick, even if you've never played lacrosse before.
They're also extremely active on Social Media. They enjoy great engagement on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and manage to present a consistent message across all platforms, which is something a lot of brands struggle to do.
STX's #PlayHuge hashtag is cool too. An official hashtag is something most major sports brands have tried to establish (notably Nike with #MakeItCount and Adidas with #allin) but few have hit on something as catchy and brand relevant as STX.
Tenable Network Security
Tenable Network Security is one of the most trusted businesses in the United States and around the world. It is a cyber-security company that has changed the way businesses protect their computer networks forever.
Tenable's most famous product is Nessus, a vulnerability scanner widely considered to be the best on the market. The figures speak for themselves. Nessus has over one million users around the world, a list that includes some of the largest and most complex enterprise networks.
The Tenable Security Center has an impressive list of users as well, including the U.S. Department of Defense and a number of Fortune 500 companies. Quality runs through everything Tenable does, and it's great for Baltimore to have them in the area.
- Founded: 2002
- Founded By: Ron Gula, Jack Huffard, Renaud Deraison
- Industry: Technology - Security
- Area Served: Worldwide
- Website: tenable.com
Special Feature: Staff Benefits
Tenable has a great working environment and is listed by The Baltimore Sun and the Baltimore Business Journal as one of the best companies to work for in the area. A lot is invested into keeping staff happy, and the company has put together a fantastic benefits package.
Every Tenable employee gets a minimum 20 business days off work in addition to nine paid holidays and two floating holidays. The healthcare package is comprehensive,including dental and vision, and the company has a life insurance policy too.
Tenable's tuition reimbursement enables employees to spend more than $5,000 each year on job-related classes and training. For people looking for a creative working environment, and a chance to learn new skills and develop their career Tenable is a great place to be.
B&O American Brasserie
The B&O American Brasserie can be found at Baltimore's Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel just a few blocks away from the Inner Harbor. The restaurant is housed next door to the Hotel in the former headquarters of the B&O Railroad, a historic setting.
The most important thing about any restaurant is the food, and the B&O American Brasserie does not disappoint. It has been featured on numerous lists of the best places to eat in Baltimore, with critics and visitors praising the seasonal, eco-friendly modern American cuisine. The Baltimore Sun also describes the restaurant's cocktail program (created by mixologist Brendan Dorr) as "The city's most engaging."
- Opened: 2010
- Founded By: Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
- Industry: Restaurant
- Location: 2 North Charles Street, Baltimore , MD 21201
- Website: bandorestaurant.com
Special Feature: Branding & Theming
All the members of staff at B&O American Brasserie understand that the dining experience is a really important part of eating out. This is of course something most restaurants get, but few achieve an end result that is as good as this.
The restaurant's decor pays tribute to the B&O Railroad and the building's history but still feels stylish and relevant. Look around and you'll see all sorts of cool features, including seats and table lamps from old B&O dining cars. There are even old railway maps on the wall.
Themed restaurants often feel tacky and overdone, so the B&O American Brasserie deserve credit for finding the right balance between history and elegance.
M-Edge sells a range of protective cases for smartphones, tablets and e-readers. In the company's own words M-Edge is "blurring the line between tech and style". Their headquarters are located in Odenton, about a 30 minute drive from the center of Baltimore.
The tablet and phone case industry is extremely lucrative. By 2017 the phone accessories market is forecast to be worth a staggering $38 billion dollars. So it's not surprising that the market is also extremely competitive, as everyone wants their share of the money that's on offer.
However, you won't find many companies with a product range that's as cool, and innovative as the one M-Edge have put together.
M-Edge use all sorts of materials and technology to create their products. For example their SuperShell cases are extremely light, but strong enough to protect your device from significant drops. They also have products made out of carbon fiber and ballistic nylon.
- Founded: 2006
- Founded By: Patrick Mish, Adam Ashley, Jim Ward
- Industry: Tech Accessories
- Area Served: Worldwide
- Website: medgestore.com
Special Feature: Working Environment
Staff at M-Edge undoubtedly have one of the coolest working environments in Baltimore. The company has been featured in the Baltimore Sun's list of the best places to work twice in the last three years.
The atmosphere at M-Edge is friendly and laid back. There's a casual dress code and the company host regular social events to keep staff happy and motivated. M-Edge even hold inter-departmental Nerf gun wars!
But more important than these perks is the freedom, responsibility and trust given to each M-Edge employee. Being valued by an employer who's leading the way in a fast-paced, competitive industry must be great fun.
Heavy Seas Beer is brewed in Baltimore by the Clipper City Brewing Company. Since 2010 all beer brewed by the company has become part of the Heavy Seas brand. The company is on a mission to make great beers using a combination of traditional and avant-garde brewing techniques, and they are certainly succeeding.
Heavy Seas has cleverly divided its product line into three sections. There are six beers in the 'Year Round' selection including 'Loose Cannon', the company's flagship beer. There are four beers in the 'Seasonal' selection, but perhaps the most interesting are the five beers that make up the product group called 'Uncharted Waters'.
These are the most creative of Heavy Seas' beers and have been infused with different flavors and aged in unusual woods or barrels. These products help keep the Heavy Seas brand unique at a time when new craft beers are constantly appearing on the market.
- Founded: 1995
- Founded By: Hugh Sisson
- Area Served: United States
- Website: hsbeer.com
Special Feature: Free Tours
Special Feature: Free Tours
Heavy Seas is a brand that likes to give back. They are partnered with the Ocean Research Project and are holding regular events to raise funds for their chosen non-profit for 2014.
In addition to their charity work Heavy Seas also like to give back to their customers. They know that many beer drinkers are extremely interested in the brewing process, which is why they offer free tours of the Heavy Seas brewery almost every Saturday. There are usually four free tours on a Saturday and they're extremely popular and fill up quickly.
Many other brewery's offer tours, but most charge for the privilege. It's nice to see Heavy Seas offering them for free.
Greetings & Readings
In an age where massive online businesses dominate the book, card and gift market, it's good to see an independent store thriving. Greetings & Readings is located in Hunt Valley, part of Baltimore County, and is Maryland's premier independent gift store.
Greetings & Readings dates back to 1969, when the Baum family opened up a small book and card shop. It's fair to say that they've come a long way. In 2005 they moved to their current Hunt Valley location, a 30,000 square foot store filled with great books and all sorts of gifts.
Part of what makes Greetings & Readings such a great store is the importance they place on customer service. Steven Baum, son of the original founders (Phyllis and Norton Baum) and company president is quoted on the company website as saying, "Our staff know books, they care about books and they care about the customers." Anyone who has ever visited the store will know this is true.
- Opened: 1969
- Founded By: Phyllis and Norton Baum
- Industry: Retail
- Location: Hunt Valley Towne Centre, 118-AA Shawan Rd, Hunt Valley, Maryland 21030
- Website: greetingsandreadings.com
Special Feature: Community Work
Special Feature: Community Work
Greetings & Readings is a member of the American Booksellers Association IndieBound initiative. The aim of this is to encourage people to shop locally in an effort to keep more money in the community, protect the environment and increase consumer choice in the area.
The company gets involved in the local community in many other ways too. They support Literacy Works, Inc., a non-profit set-up to increase adult literacy in Baltimore. They also work with the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Greetings & Readings also puts on regular story readings for children at their Hunt Valley store. Many of these readings are even hosted by local authors. It's great to see that the local community is at the heart of so much of what they do.
Businesses that help others grow are pretty cool. That's exactly what entreQuest does. Management consultancy is not a new industry but the entreQuest team are better than most. They have already worked with more than 400 businesses since launching 13 years ago.
entreQuest takes a different approach to the majority of management consultancy firms. A lot of the company's programs and thinking is focused on transforming business mind-set and culture, to create a winning mentality within the organization. They also focus on talent acquisition to help businesses get the right personnel in place to take them to the next level.
entreQuest is full of thought leaders. People with real talent and experience, with a proven track record of success when it comes to growing businesses. In 2013 entreQuest's CEO and co-founder Joe Mechlinski released his first book titled, 'Grow Regardless: Of Your Business's Size, Your Industry or the Economy... and Despite the Government!' It went on to be a five times best seller (on Amazon.com, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble and USA Today) so he clearly knows his stuff.
- Founded: 2001
- Founded By: Joe Mechlinski
- Industry: Management Consultancy
- Area Served: United States
- Website: entrequest.com
Special Feature: Unlimited Vacation Policy
One of the best management consultancy firms around was always going to be a great place to work, but entreQuest really go above and beyond for their employees. Staff members enjoy some really great perks including sponsored community volunteer days, but what really sets entreQuest apart is its unlimited vacation policy.
entreQuest does not track how much vacation time each employee takes. That means that if you want to take three or four weeks off in a row you won't have a problem. As long as employees give a month's notice to allow others to prepare for their absence (and don't take advantage of the system) they are trusted to take care of their own vacation time.
One of the world's largest amusement ride manufactures has its headquarters in Baltimore. There are not many cooler companies than one that manufactures roller coasters, and Premier Rides has designed some of the biggest and best in the world.
Premier Rides was founded in 1994 by Peter Schnabel, but Jim Seay is now the sole owner and company president. He is a self-confessed adrenaline junkie with a passion for creating innovative and unique roller coaster designs.
Premier Rides is constantly breaking new ground in this fast moving industry. In 2013 Full Throttle (a Premier creation for Six Flags Magic Mountain) was recognized as the "World's Tallest Looping Coaster" by the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Founded: 1994
- Founded By: Peter Schnabel
- Industry: Amusement Rides
- Areas Served: Worldwide
Special Feature: Innovation
In an interview with CNN in 2009 Seay spoke about his passion for roller coasters that offer something different. He understands that for a ride to be successful it has to offer a unique riding experience.
As no two roller coasters or rides the company build are the same they end up with a situation where almost every single one of their products is a prototype, which brings challenges to the business.
That's the end of our list of the coolest companies in Baltimore. Do you agree with our selection, or would your list have been different? You can share your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter, Facebook or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image Source (Baltimore Skyline):Mr.TinDC