Big Ass Fans! You have got to admit that is a memorable name. I was just in Lexington, KY and had the opportunity to tour their offices and product development area with a client of mine in the building industry who is one of their customers. They used to be called HVLS as in High Volume, Low Speed, not too catchy. They changed after their customers kept calling and asking if they were the ones who made, “those big ass fans. They make them up to 24 feet wide and have some big ass goals to go along with their fans.
It was so rewarding and validating to see a company who had put in to practice so many of the strategies I have recommended over the years with such great success. Their culture is not for everyone and that is maybe why it works so well. It attracts winners with a growth mindset who have the attitude that once hired, they will effectively “run their own business” within the company. Founder Carey Smith wants to build a company to last. Literally the plan is to become a 200-year company that always acts in the long-term interests of its customers, employees and suppliers.
To achieve that Carey knows he must foster a culture that expects greatness, and I mean greatness. At Big Ass, their goal is to literally achieving 20-40% growth EACH year. That is the expectation and they have achieved it year after year. That amazing growth is not a surprise. It is the status quo. Most companies are happy with single digit growth. They have also branched into lighting and they are now called Big Ass Solutions
Carey’s goal is to do what it takes to create the environment to have his employees be as productive as possible. At their main building they have a Cantina with lunch professionally catered in each day and the company subsidizes it. A large salad is $3 and a small salad $1 for example. They have large industrial refrigerators so people can bring their own lunch too. They have an on-site store so all snacks are close by.
If people have to go off site for lunch, it takes twice them as long as eating in and it is inexpensive, healthy and quick. What days is it tougher for some employees to get in on time? Typically it is Monday and Friday. Big Ass Solutions offers FREE breakfast when you arrive on time those days. That is a nice incentive. They also have a game room next to the catina to give the team an easy way to have fun, bond and get the competitive juices flowing. It is a small investment to make the employees more effective.
Plenty of bikes and helmets are available to get outside for some exercise. To help drive health and fitness they run Fitness Challenges and give way valuable prizes. The form below will give you some good ideas for your company to model. As I toured I did see almost everyone was in good shape and the energy was easy to feel. There was a sense of urgency you could feel.
A wide variety of coffee is free. They have free fruit stands throughout the building that changes with the season. They also offer a options of discounted gym memberships. As you could guess, they get thousands of job applicants and ultimately less than 3% are hired after an exhaustive interview process. With a growth rate of 20-40% a year they are expanding rapidly in the US and internationally.
You also notice a lack of offices. They utilize more of a bullpen approach with cubicles. The one innovation piece I recommended was to contact Workrite Ergonomics and look into the latest Sit/Stand desk solutions. I have had mine (Solace model) now for almost a year and love it! Carey is the only one with an office. They also fight complacency by having many of the different job functions rotate every 9-12 months. I know what you are thinking. They do it where it makes sense, not moving an engineer to accounting for example.
The sales group has their own culture for sure. Celebration is a part of their secret I believe. For every sale over $25,000 they make it fun, create energy and a little jealousy in the sales area. Each sales team has their own bell, gong or similar! What I saw was when one of the team got their sale finalized, they played their jam song for about 15 seconds, approached the area with a little “swag” and then pounded the gong! They were proud and everyone took notice and worked diligently so it would be their turn soon. When they reach their sales goal for the day, they open up the beer refrigerator after work and everyone can celebrate!
Carey has done and amazing job of creating a culture that expects and demands massive growth. Big Ass Solutions simply does not know any better. Less than 20% is not an option. What are you current sales goals? What is the expectation? How can you make it easier for your team to be more productive? Are you celebrating your success like you should?