Dart Guns and a Furry Friend
"When People Have Fun At Work, They Do Their Jobs Better"
Some people long for the college life once they enter the working world. Bret Bonnet has never had to do that. He's cultivated a college atmosphere, right down to the fraternity-style antics, right in the offices of Quality Logo Products. As the Road Tour rolled up to the 97-person company, which sits on the second floor of a bank in Aurora, IL, three Quality Logos employees were outside waiting for us, one turning cartwheels, another hopping up and down, and a third giving us a big "thumbs up" sign.
But the silliness didn't stop there. Inside, groups of twenty- and thirty-somethings (you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in their forties in this crew) were cheerfully noshing on sausage burritos and bagels and washing them down with champagne in a college-dorm-like setting. Movie posters covered many of the walls, some of which had been "enhanced" by an employee with a Sharpie. (One poster, "Gigli," poked fun at the two actors, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.)
The scene is fitting for the company, as Bonnet started the business, which is mostly online, in his college days at North Central College. Eventually, he moved the company to his home and worked alongside six employees, many of whom hailed from his alma matter. Ultimately, he rented an office, and the company has continued to grow exponentially. One of Bonnet's continual sources of talent is graduates from North Central. One professor at the college often refers new recruits. Quality Logo prides itself on a super-efficient order system which speeds up the ordering process and reduces errors.
One who visits the company, which has a game room filled with air hockey machines, video games and dart games, and another one that holds a bouncy house, might be tempted to wonder how any work gets done. Indeed, on the morning of the Road Tour visit, it's near mayhem, as a bulldog named Meatball roams the halls, and salespeople joke about how to integrate silly words like "meow" into their next sales call.
But all of the fun is party of Bonnet's core mission: "When people have fun at work, they do their jobs better," he said.
Bonnet also gives employees lots of leeway, both in their work hours ("I don't care if people work a three day work week, as long as they get their jobs done" he said) and in coming up with their own ideas. Indeed, the level of entrepreneurialism among employees is evident. One staffer recently landed a mammoth job from a client in Iceland by pitching an idea for a new way the client could use hand sanitizer spray bottles. Another, a graphic designer, took it upon himself to build his own trophies for clients.
Employees like to have fun, says Bonnet's business partner, Mike Wenger, but they also like to work hard. "When you're doing onlines sales, you work at a crazy-fast pace," he says. "You have to respond to clients immediately. It gets stressful, and we have found some great ways to hit the 'pressure release' button. We've got a bunch of unsettled people here who want to make a difference in the industry and feel like their opinions can be heard, and they can do that here."
And, if that means hitting each other with darts or defacing a movie poster, well, Bonnet and Wenger are all for it. "The way I see if, if you get a chance to pet a dog or play a video game while you're working, you're just going to be that more productive," Bonnet said.