Melissa Smith, CEO of WEX, a financial technology company based in Portland. Credit: Courtesy of WEX

PORTLAND, Maine — WEX, a financial technology services company based in Portland, said Thursday its revenue hit a record $1.7 billion in 2019, a rise of more than 15 percent over the previous year.

That growth included acquiring other companies, such as Discovery Benefits of North Dakota. WEX added 1,000 employees from company acquisitions alone last year, said Melissa Smith, CEO of WEX.

In Maine, WEX’s ranks have almost doubled from 708 full-time equivalent employees in January 2016 to 1,340 now. WEX also has contractors in Maine to bring the current employment to 1,500.

WEX, which is the second-largest public company in Maine, also expects another spurt in revenue this year to $1.86 billion or more.

The rapid growth means trying to standardize employee culture and benefits across a company with 5,000 employees in 10 countries.

“We need to create consistency with the messaging around benefits and how we want the physical work environment to be for employees,” Smith said. “As we get bigger, we have had to formalize programs that used to happen naturally, like our employee volunteering program.”

In its run to record revenue growth last year, the company created a number of new programs to give employees variety and growth paths.

One is a program teaching how the company expects leadership to behave. It also implemented collaborative email tools to encourage employees anywhere in the world to interact, she said.

The company also organized affinity groups, such as WEXVets veterans, Women@WEX, WEXPats employees from other countries and NextGen early career professionals to get professionals with shared experiences together. The groups are part of the company’s diversity and inclusiveness efforts, Smith said.

For benefits, it added paternity leave and increased short-term disability, including maternity leave. It added a sabbatical program for employees to take a month off to travel, enjoy experiences or spend time at home.

WEX also has an internship program. Some 5,000 people applied for 100 slots last year.

Smith said the programs follow the company’s values of integrity, a sense of community and innovation.

“We’re a relationships-oriented company,” she said.

WEX is in the process of trying to consolidate its six South Portland locations into a single campus where employees can more easily interact. After evaluating about 19 locations, it is focusing on Scarborough Downs to relocate more than 1,000 workers by 2022.

The relocation partly hinges on the developer of the Scarborough campus getting a $2.25 million tax break over 15 years from the city.

“We looked at the amenities combined with the cost of being there,” Smith said. “We evaluate Scarborough on that combined basis going forward.”

One of the amenities was easy access to the outdoors and walking trails, which the company has at its Portland headquarters.

The move in 2022 would make WEX the largest private employer in Scarborough and its second-largest single taxpayer.

The Town Council began the public review of the proposed tax credit in a first reading with public comments in January and held a public hearing on Feb. 5. It will hold an informal community roundtable tonight. The council plans to hold a second reading and final vote Feb. 19.

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...