Walk into the Custom Logos (asi/173183) office in San Diego, CA, and one of the first things you notice are the LPs framed on a corridor wall. Cracked black vinyls are all over the wall. “We celebrate things in unique ways here,” says Jeff Golumbuk, the CEO and part owner of Custom Logos. “So, every time a rep or the company breaks a sales record, we crack an LP, frame it, write the record on it, and put it on the wall.”
Indeed, the 53-person company finds many reasons to celebrate and honor its employees. There’s a walk of fame in one office hallway that has stars in the floor for any employee who has stayed with the company for 20 years – there are three of those so far. Ten-year anniversaries are celebrated by staffers receiving Omega watches – 27 watches have been doled out. And, every workweek starts and ends with food for everybody – Bagel Mondays and Free Lunch Fridays. “We’re big on company events,” Golumbuk says, as he gives the Road Tour crew a tour around the company’s offices on the last day of the trip. “We try to keep people comfortable, and give them a unique environment to work in. We often say that we’re an HR nightmare, because we just do things we’re not supposed to do.”
And, with a company motto of “Have Fun, Make Money,” Custom Logos definitely puts equal emphasis on both. It has increased its revenues by 78% in the past five years, and the company has full-staff outings at the races, roller skating, barbecues, dinners, hiking, and a legendary holiday party every year. “You don’t want to see the bar bill at that one,” Golumbuk says.
But ultimately all of those efforts lead to a familial environment that employees remain highly loyal to. Custom Logos is a business in which employees have a say in just about everything – including the design of the office and their own workspaces. As Golumbuk says, “If you want a bar in your office, go for it.”
Golumbuk and Ernie Foutch, another of the company’s partners, believe that kind of employee autonomy has helped lead the organization to success. “People here know if they have an idea, they can run with it,” Foutch says. “It’s unique here in that management is highly involved in the day-to-day operations, but it’s the employees that really run the environment. They know they have room to succeed and to fail in some instances. We always want to be ready to take risks.”
But not everybody fits into that kind of work culture, admit Golumbuk and Foutch. Hiring and identifying the right people has been a challenge, which is why they don’t do it in any traditional way. Mostly, they hire through employee referrals – including employees’ family members – because they want to know that new people will fit into the culture. “I’d say about 90% of the people we’ve hired are through employee referrals,” Golumbuk says. “Our business is going through the roof, but we’ve had some difficulty finding good people who fit in. It can get a little sticky because we do have a lot of family members here working together, but we want to hire people that our employees already know well. We hire for personality, not knowledge or skill. We can teach them the business.”
Once they’re hired, though, Custom Logos does everything it can to take care of them. While it pays people well and provides a comfortable work environment, the company will also provide out-of-the-box perks that most organizations would never consider – like the time recently when it loaned one employee $25,000 to help buy a house. “Once people start with us, they just don’t leave,” Golumbuk says. “We really take care of them, we know each others’ families, and we hang out as friends. We don’t have any bureaucracy, and we basically do things opposite of most other companies.”