5 Northwest companies among Top 25 most-inspiring in nation

Consulting firm Performance Inspired has named its top 25 most inspiring companies across the country, and five local companies have made the grade.

"What's interesting is that each one is recognized for something just a little bit different," said Terry Barber, CIO, (Chief Inspiration Officer) of Performance Inspired.

"Consumers had to recognize the fact that these companies on this list were willing to leverage their profit and their influence for making the world a better place. Second of all, they had to be able to recognize that employees were passionate and inspired by their work. And third, they had to be able to recognize that these were companies who were dreaming great dreams, having big ideas, but could literally make those dreams and ideas come to pass."

On the list:

#24 REI - The Seattle-area Outdoors retailer focuses on the environment, its products and its employees.

"REI has a core philosophy that is all based on inspirational kinds of principles and triggers," Barber said.

#14 Costco - Barber says members and employees of the retail and wholesale superstore based in Issaquah all point to one man, CEO Jim Senegal

"They just think he is an incredibly humble, inspirational leader," he said.

#13 Starbucks - The Seattle-based coffee giant is recognized for its leader, Howard Shultz and employee happiness.

"The two things (consumers) love about Starbucks from an inspirational perspective - they love Howard shultz in terms of his vision, his humility, his commitment to his employees," Barber said. "But they see it most in their conversations with the employees".

#8 Amazon - Barber says consumers love the on-line retailer for its ability to create a personal experience.

"Their ability to seamlessly make technology work in a way that makes life better for the consumer, and they love that," he said.

#1 Microsoft - Barber explains consumers and employees alike appreciate the Redmond-based software company's philosophy towards charity.

"It's their commitment to philanthropy," he says. "It's evidently just so permeating throughout its culture, its amazing."

He cites an example of Microsoft's generous matching program:

"Up to $12,000 matching grant per employee, for whatever charity that employee chooses. Who does that?"