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Kim Ross with CarMax celebrated her company’s Sterling Award during the Top Workplaces ceremony Thursday at the University of Richmond.

CarMax Inc. was named Thursday evening as one of the Richmond area’s best places to work, receiving the accolade for the fourth consecutive year.

The Goochland County-based used-car retailer was one of four Richmond-area organizations whose employees judged them high enough to get first-place recognition in the annual Top Workplaces program for 2017.

CarMax received the top award in the mega-size category, for companies with more than 1,000 employees. Other best workplaces in three other size categories were wireless provider T-Mobile, financial planning software firm PIEtech and medical eye care provider Commonwealth Eye Care Associates.

The four top companies received Sterling Awards, which were presented at an event in the Modlin Center for the Arts at the University of Richmond. Nearly 450 people attended. The Richmond Times-Dispatch partnered with Richmond SHRM, a chapter of the National Society for Human Resource Management, to present the awards.

The awards are based on confidential employee surveys conducted by Workplace Dynamics, a Pennsylvania-based employee research firm. In all, more than 14,000 employees working for 90 local companies were surveyed.

“There are so many great companies, so this is such an honor,” said Kim Ross, assistant vice president for human resources at CarMax.

“I would attribute it to always, always looking to evolve and be better,” she said of the four-year streak. “All the employees have bought in.”

CarMax wasn’t the only repeat winner. For the second year in a row, wireless provider T-Mobile captured first place in the large company category, for organizations with 400 to 999 employees.

After placing second last year, Commonwealth Eye Care Associates got the top award this year in the small companies category, for organizations with 124 or fewer employees.

“I’m always learning new things, and I never feel discouraged to ask questions,” one employee of Commonwealth Eye Care Associates wrote in the confidential survey.

Powhatan County-based PIEtech won a Sterling Award for the first time. With 129 employees, the company was the top workplace for mid-sized firms with 125 to 399 employees.

“I always feel as though my hard work and dedication will be noticed and rewarded,” a PIEtech employee wrote in the survey.

In all, 60 companies were honored as outstanding workplaces in the Richmond region. Twelve received first-, second- or third-place recognition in their respective categories.

Nationwide, it’s rare for companies to repeat as top-ranked companies in the Top Workplaces program, let alone for four years in a row.

“CarMax has accomplished something really unique by creating a work environment where employees consistently rate it as an exceptional place to work,” said Bob Helbig of Workplace Dynamics. “It’s hard to make it to the top. It’s even harder to stay there.”

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