Location: Wilmington, N.C.
Assets: $679 million
Employees: 275
Chairman and CEO: James "Chip" Mahan

Last year's No. 1 on our list of best places to work is this year's top scorer as well. From providing free Friday lunches to paying the full cost of health insurance, few do as much for employees as this niche lender.

"People ask, 'Why are you spending all that money on employees?'" says Live Oak Bank's chairman and chief executive, James "Chip" Mahan. "They're generating $500,000 in revenue per employee, that's why."

Live Oak, the nation's No. 2 Small Business Administration lender, targets only a few types of borrowers, including veterinarians, funeral homes, dentists and small-town pharmacies. The bank does business across the country and loan officers keep the two company-owned planes busy visiting customers.

When they're at the office, employees can work out with three full-time trainers in the gym. They don't have to leave their pets at home either, because Live Oak's headquarters has a new dog park, which is very popular. "You know, we probably have 30 or 40 dogs in that kennel every day," Mahan says. "We've got video cameras in there, so you can check on old Freddy anytime you want from your work station."

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