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Counselor is published 13 times a year and is
the "voice" of the promotional products industry.

 
2012 Counselor Road Tour

CSE: Where “Work Doesn’t Have to Suck”

"I Really Believe You Work Better When You're Comfortable"

Counselor Road TourTucked away in New Berlin, WI, Top 40 distributor firm CSE is a casual place. Very casual. When we arrive first thing in the morning – a little earlier than maybe some here had expected – we’re greeted by Tom Savio, owner of the company, and Mark Ziskind, CSE’s COO, who are both clad in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops on this 95-degree day. Yes, everybody in the company, every day of the week, can come dressed however they want. “I own one suit, I think,” Savio tells us, as we sit down in the company’s showroom situated immediately off of the lobby. “I really believe that you work better when you’re comfortable. Basically, live by one simple philosophy: Work doesn’t have to suck.”

You know as soon as you step foot into CSE’s 104,000 square-foot facility that this, indeed, is a different kind of workplace. All the conference rooms are named after movies (we spent some time in the Goodfellas room), there’s a whole wall on the second floor that’s full of graffiti (done completely by the company’s staffers), employees receive free soda and popcorn all day long, and everyone working here simply exudes an energy that is extremely rare in most corporate offices. “We don’t want to be a regular company,” Savio says. “We want our people to be comfortable and productive. We want them to enjoy being here. We really just want them to like each other and like the environment.”

And, that they do. In addition to the everyday perks, CSE hosts tailgate parties before the beginning of every Milwaukee Brewers’ season, throws regular barbecues for employees, and basically has a celebration every time the company has a big win. “We like to celebrate and recognize people here,” Ziskind says. “Recognition is so important. We want our employees to always know that they’re valued and appreciated. We work hard to make sure that happens.”

Savio and Ziskind, as well as nearly every single employee on this day, are wearing CSE Biggest Loser t-shirts. The company began its Biggest Loser competition last month, and 48 of CSE’s 89 employees are currently involved. It’s no shabby competition, either. It’s cutthroat here at CSE. The participants are broken up into five teams (divvied up by color; Savio and Ziskind are both on the yellow team), and winners are determined by percent of weight loss. “I encourage trash talking,” Savio says. “The orange team won the first month and they rubbed it in everyone’s face by putting Orange Crush cans in front of all of our office doors the next day,” Ziskind says. “Like everything else we do here, we make it fun – but competitive.”

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