Tompkins, 32, a SAS customer trainer, sits with Anna Tompkins, who is 9 months old: "Anna has asthma, and she was in the hospital earlier this year. The understanding that SAS accorded me was fabulous. The attitude was, Get her well. When I had to take time off, that wasn't looked down on or seen as a mark against me. And because of the day care here, I can focus on my work when I go to the office. I know she's well taken care of, that she's getting her medication and her breathing treatments. And I know she's only four digits away on the phone. When you treat people well, as SAS does, you get their loyalty. Once you've got their loyalty, they'll do anything for you."
Jones, 27, a tester in John Sall's group, came to SAS two years ago, after graduating from North Carolina State University — Jim Goodnight's alma mater: "I don't have a lot of outside stresses. If I need anything to do my work, it's there — Windows, testing information, equipment. I have whatever the customers have. People I know from school say that they have to work in really stressful workplaces. They never have what they need to do their jobs, they work long hours, and there are no benefits for working those hours. Here, they trust you. You don't have someone standing over you, making sure that you get your work done. So how does the work get done? I'm not sure how to describe it, but even when I was at N.C. State, I knew that SAS expects the best. I knew before I came to work here that you couldn't come to SAS and play around."
Dudley, 34, works as a programmer in John Sall's group: "We're all in a race to get the software out on time — but how we get there is a different matter. There are few power struggles going on. There's not a lot of arguing among people or a lot of placing blame. There's not a lot of negative energy. We're working together."
A version of this article appeared in the January 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.