March 30, 2009

Is Oakley Skippy?

I’ve trained and raced in Oakley sunglasses over the years. To be honest I can take ’em or leave ’em. I like the way they keep the wind and dust out of my eyes but they scratch up too easily and I end up with a hole in my wallet.

No product is for everybody, and that’s ok.

Skippy Customers?

Chris Brogan today reports from Oakley headquarters in California with two stories of evangelical customers. In the first, Chris is telling a friend how Oakley test their glasses for safety and is overheard by a soldier, who says,

“I know. The swelling on my face finally just went down after four weeks. Everything but right here was trashed.” (“Right here” was where his sunglasses protected him.)

The soldier is wearing Oakley.

Skippy Staff?

To create products that generate that kind of belief, Oakley likes to attract a certain kind of person. This is how they describe themselves under Careers at Oakley on their About page …

It’s in our DNA to identify problems, create inventions and wrap those inventions in art. Some call it a relentless drive to make things better. We call it Mad Science, and it lives in everything that fuels our passion.

Our headquarters in Orange County, California is home to creative people who find equal time for the sports and Mad Science that define our culture. We open our doors to people who embrace work and life with equal passion.

Is it true? During his visit Chris has lunch in the cafeteria,

“Everyone was happy, full of energy and really excited. Sure, every day there can’t be amazing and delightful, but folks looked pretty darned excited.”

Pat McIlvain, VP of Sports Marketing, told Chris,

“sales staff stick around an average of eight years.”

Whilst it’s always easier working for the market leader, people leave bad bosses no matter what, so sales staff sticking around probably stand for good management.

Not always. Plenty of places with low staff turnover are under-managed and under-led with a culture of under-performance.

Oakley’s not one of them. Market leadership and long term financial performance point to the expectation of excellence. This is not a company of slackers.

Skippy Owners?

Now, assuming the owners are getting what they want (and the only way to find out is to ask) Oakley makes it to the skippy list.