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  1. Business

What it takes to be among Tampa Bay's top workplaces

The stories in these pages are about what it takes to build a top workplace. They are about resilience and loyalty forged during tough times. They are about why workers put such a premium on a sense of engagement. They are about how personality — and a heavy dose of fun — can help the bottom line.

Think of them as a blueprint to business success, a roadmap to creating the perfect workplace. There is something for everyone — workers looking for better opportunities, managers struggling to motivate employees, executives aiming to instill the right company culture.

We know what matters to workers because they told us — 34,928 of them from organizations around the Tampa Bay area. Our partner, Workplace Dynamics, created the top 100 rankings from those survey responses. We didn't select the winners; the workers did.

What goes into creating a top workplace?

Strong leadership. During the housing collapse, Craig Beggins saw his income cut in half. The CEO of Century 21 Beggins Enterprises (No. 1 midsize workplace) often wondered whether he would make payroll. Still, he kept his staff motivated.

"We have a saying," Beggins told Times reporter Drew Harwell. "'The speed of the leader determines the pace of the pack.' I can't be down. Not with a bunch of salespeople relying on me."

A sense of purpose matters a lot. The teachers at St. John's Episcopal Parish Day School (No. 2 small workplace) see what they do as more a calling than a job.

Growth helps. Capital One (No. 2 large) has added 885 jobs since 2010. USAmeriBank (No. 3 midsize) grew by 131 percent, while American Strategic Insurance (No. 2 midsize) and Greystone Healthcare Management (No. 18 small) are both up 55 percent. But consolidation can inspire confidence, too. The Beck Group (No. 6 small) had to get smaller to get stronger.

And, like the last three years of the Times survey, workers said it's about more than bulging paychecks. For instance, the diehards at the Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender's Office (No. 28 midsize) haven't had a raise in six years.

Turn inside to meet the top 100. See the complete list on Page 4, and read even more at tampabay.com/topworkplaces2013.

Congratulations to the winners.

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