This last week I took a day off of work to go up and see the amazing people at Otterbox in Fort Collins, Colorado. I really wasn’t sure what to expect with my visit, but after having met some of the team at CES I knew it would be a good time. I was surprised by a lot of stuff and had a lot of fun during my visit.
Otterbox has built itself a reputation of designing and making cases for mobile devices that are built to protect your device from almost any kind of torture. In fact our own John Bergoon had reviewed the Otterbox Defender Series case awhile back and took this video to prove how much trust he had in the case protecting his BlackBerry Tour:
Pretty funny video if you ask me, but it does its job. It shows how much trust and faith John had that his phone would make it through because of the protection of the Otterbox case.
The only way I really know how to describe the culture inside of the Otterbox offices would to be to compare it to the CNBC special “Inside the Mind of Google” and the environment that Google maintains for their employees. With one big exception, Otterbox isn’t trying to take over the world…yet. For the most part I saw employees dressed completely casual, there were foosball tables in break rooms, dart boards on the walls, massage chairs, and in some cases giant Star Wars decals on the walls. We found a group of people having a meeting while playing a game of darts. Now I don’t want to give the impression that the employees of Otterbox, especially the group playing darts, don’t work hard. Even as they were playing darts they were rehearsing their presentation for that afternoons company meeting. The environment at the Otterbox offices are not of traditional corporate environment, and in my opinion that is a great thing. Everyone I met had a sense of pride to be working at Otterbox, they really appeared to enjoy their work and more importantly their specific role inside the company. Over the last 2 years Otterbox went from 40 employees to 140 employees, including recently opening their first office in Europe.
The main focus of Otterbox is to design a good product and make sure the end user, the customer, is satisfied with that product. The customer service department is located on the main floor taking calls and listening to the concerns of customers. If there is a question or issue with a case they are able to go directly to the engineer who designed the case by just walking up a flight of stairs. The cohesiveness of the employees at Otterbox is just one ingredient of the formula that makes up Otterbox. Have you ever heard the phrase; Ottertude? Neither had I, until this visit. Each year Otterbox will give out awards to the employees who demonstrate the best Ottertude. In other words the people who worked hard, had a great attitude, and try to really capture the essence of Otterbox in their work. One great example of this would be the picture at the top of this story, I bet you were wondering what these animals on a wall had to do with Otterbox. In the call center room there is a wall with pictures that customers have sent in of their pets, the same pets that chewed up an Otterbox case. The pictures shown above are only about half of the pictures that they have up.
Another ingredient to the Otterbox formula would be their involvement with various orginazations as is the case with them teaming up with the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. Otterbox will be releasing a special edition OtterBox Commuter Series “Strength” case for the BlackBerry Curve 8520 & 8530. Once it is available they will donate 10% of all sales to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. You can sign up for updates and view a preview of the case by visiting otterbox.com/strength.
If this has turned into more of a pitch for someone to go work at Otterbox than anything else, my apologies. The main thing I wanted to express was the fact that Otterbox does truly care about their product, their customers, and yes.. their employees. There are so many things they are doing behind the scenes that expressed this mentality that the average consumer does not get to see. The product they put out is a top quality and does what they advertise it to do. If you own an Otterbox case odds are you know what I am talking about. On the other hand if you have never purchased a case from Otterbox, you may want to give them a try.
You can view their website and products at Otterbox.com