Following a long and, well, treacherous drive through the mountains between Denver and Salt Lake City (travel tip: don’t, we repeat, don’t ever do this drive at night; it’s darker than a cave for two straight hours and the one-lane-road-with-oncoming-traffic-right-next-to-you is far from forgiving), the Best Places to Work Road Tour crew pulled into Handstands on Thursday morning happy to just have its feet on the ground. But what awaited it was a party.
Handstands, a 120-person company that has about 40 of those employees dedicated to its promotional business with the rest mainly focused on retail products, was celebrating the fact that it is about to complete the biggest June that the company has ever had. In fact, with a week left in the month, the supplier firm – which now sells phone and tablet accessories, office products, and automotive items, but began mostly as a mousepad company – has already broken its record for business in the month of June. “The month isn’t even over, but we’ve already surpassed our biggest June ever,” says Jason Fogg, general manager of the company’s promotional division, who just began with the company at the end of last year. “So, we decided to throw a party and cater in some Mexican lunch and call it a fiesta.”
It seems, though, that this company doesn’t really need a good excuse for a party. They’ll get together and celebrate just about anything. There was the party at a local ranch – they called it Promo Rodeo – when it broke its record for sales in a year last year. Plus, another time the management gave everybody a paid day off and then sprung for everyone’s admission to a local amusement park.
But amid a celebratory and happy environment, Handstands employees also work hard for each other. They’ll chip in for a group that is particularly busy or simply job-hop when necessary to make sure a project gets done. “There’s a sense of duty to your coworkers here that’s really a joy to see,” Fogg says about staffers who can take advantage of a full court basketball court, free weights, foosball and ping pong tables in the 175,000-square-foot warehouse. “We have a relaxed environment, but everyone has a clear understanding of what it takes to get the job done well.”
Those people are also able to honor each other through a formal recognition program called Handstands Heroes. If a staffer feels a co-worker went above-and-beyond to complete project or helped them in an extreme way, then they can fill out a form to give them a Handstands Hero certificate. All of those throughout the year are submitted to managers for formal recognition, and then the company names a Handstands Champion at the end of the year to honor the employee who had an idea that had the biggest impact on the company’s business or operations.
And these employees work in a flexible environment that affords many opportunities for growth. The company recently instituted a program for about 30 of its production staffers in which they can come in to the office to pick up packaging projects and then work on them at home. “We can call on them when we get busy or ramp it down when we’re less busy, and they really appreciate the flexibility,” says Ryan Wood, the company’s production manager who has been with Handstands for 16 years but on this day is highly interested in the U.S. – Germany World Cup game. “I started as a driver for the company and worked my way through many roles. We have a lot of opportunities for employees to grow, and I’m even learning new things here every day.”