It’s Monday afternoon when the Road Trip crew rolls into Greater China, a supplier of mostly custom products based in Bellevue, WA, that represents the final stop of the Road Tour. And while most executives might be hunkered down planning out the work week, Vice President Mark St. Peter is hunkered down at the company’s bar, pouring scotch for our crew members.
Don’t be mistaken, though: His brief impromptu happy hour doesn’t signal the end of the work day. Oftentimes, the afternoon is just the beginning for the 35-member crew of the Bellevue office (there are an additional 15 employees in Shanghai, China). Since 80% of the company’s products are custom-made and sourced in Asia, the company’s team members spend a lot of late nights on the phone speaking to China-based employees and factory partners. Often leading the charge is company CEO and founder Ben Zhang, who started the company in 1995.
“No matter what we’re working on, Ben jumps in and helps, even if it’s jumping in on a factory call at 10 p.m.,” says Kim Robertson, a sales rep for the fast-growing company for the past 15 years.
It’s that kind of dedication – plus the chance to work on creative products, that gets Greater China’s employees energized. Recent custom ventures include a cooler shaped like a basketball for Miller Beer and a wicked-cool coffee canister for Dunkin Donuts.
“Every day here is an adventure,” says Chris Ritchie, an account executive for the company for more than seven years.
It’s also a place that likes to reward employees and celebrate big wins. An Asian gong sits in the middle of the office, and it gets rung any time an order is closed or a project is finished. Plus, the company gives out top sales awards throughout the year – including a monthly honor that includes a trophy, which sits on the winner’s desk and gets passed around throughout the company during the year.
And, with a bar and a putting green in the office – everything in the Greater China office has a golf theme, it seems – employees are also allowed to let loose. “It’s a teamwork focused environment here,” says St. Peter. “We depend on each other and we have a lot of fun doing it.”