“It’s not hard for people at Big Ass Fans to connect with what we make,“ notes Nick Deters, Director of Strategic Sales. “All they have to do is look up.”
Kentucky-based Big Ass Fans manufactures high-volume, low-speed (HVLS) fans used in a wide range of commercial, industrial, professional, and home applications. When Big Ass employees look up from wherever they are at in the company’s Lexington manufacturing and headquarters open space campus, they see their own products at work keeping them comfortable.
And it’s not just the fans that aim to keep the company’s employees comfortable. It’s a culture purposely built on the work hard, play hard model. In fact, the company website proclaims:
“Comfort isn’t just a word. It’s our mission. It’s the reason we do what we do. As the first to champion the comfort of workers, we remain steadfast in our commitment to their health, safety, and well-being. Every product we engineer, every advancement we make begins with workers in mind. After all, they don’t complain about being uncomfortable with Big Ass Fans on the job.”
Big Ass Fans touts a “not-so-ordinary work culture,” which is not all that surprising when you consider that the company has a “not-so-ordinary” name. In addition to generous benefits—including comprehensive health insurance, 401K plan, paid holidays and PTO, wellness benefits and paid family leave, and holiday shutdowns—Big Ass Fans employees enjoy catered lunch and food trucks as well as a beer fridge (also stocked with non-alcoholic drinks, open only off hours occurring when a salesperson hits a $25,000 goal, signaled by a bell ringing and playing a song of that person’s choosing). There’s also a free fruit cart—the company consumes about 200 pounds of fruit a week!
But wait, there’s more. There are pool and ping-pong tables available during lunch breaks or before or after works. And a well-stocked bike center to select a two-wheeler for use on a nearby trail. Big Ass Fans sponsors or encourages participation in numerous outside activities and community events. It’s all part of what the company describes as, “living the Big Ass life.”
It’s a Team Sport
Besides the games and activities made available to Big Ass Fans employees, Deters emphasizes that perhaps the biggest (to overuse a term, albeit highly descriptive) attraction to employees is that work at Big Ass Fans is a “team sport.” According to Deters, “The environment here is designed to foster collaboration. We have this wide-open office space where anybody can go anywhere to talk to anyone. Someone on the manufacturing line can feel free to bring something up with an engineer or designer. There are no hierarchies here or rigid reporting structures. We don’t expect anyone here to do anything on their own, it’s truly a team effort. That spirit of collaboration to solve problems and work hard and provide our customers with the best products and services is what draws people here and makes them want to stay for their careers.”
While a number of companies are struggling post-pandemic to get people to return to work, Big Ass Fans employees couldn’t wait to get back. “Because of the open space we have here at Lexington, we were able to put in place social distancing so people were able to come into work safely,” Deters said. “For those working remotely, we scheduled regular virtual team meetings to maintain our collaborative spirit. Even now that things are getting back to normal after COVID, we offer people the flexibility of working in hybrid arrangements, but we find that many prefer to come into work because the work depends so much on interacting with other people.”
Big Ass Fans employs some 675, about 550 of which are located at its Lexington campus, which houses both manufacturing and office facilities, with the remaining deployed at various international sales offices. Roughly 30 percent of staff is sales, 35% sales support, 10% engineering and design, and 25% manufacturing.
Not only does Big Ass Fans offer career paths within these disciplines, but it also encourages cross-training. “If someone says they are interested in doing a different kind of job, we’ll help them get the skills they need to do it. Even if someone wants to leave the company, we’ll help them get ready for whatever the new opportunity is,” Deters says.
One Big Ass Family
“Everyone here is treated like family,” Deters says. “Our employees aren’t just putting in their time. On a deeper level, they enjoy working with one another and sharing their accomplishments. It’s why people tend to stay, and why if anyone does leave us, they often come back.”
Although leaving the company is a rare occurrence. Big Ass Fans has minimal turnover, and most employees are in for the long-term. While many other companies, are struggling to fill jobs, Deters says that, “We don’t have much of a problem finding and retaining the talent we need.”
That said, Deters adds, “We’re continually expanding, so we are always looking for people. We work with several colleges and even high schools to recruit people; in fact, as we are speaking a new class of 20 interns just came into the office.”
But the biggest recruiting by far is the reputation of Big Ass Fans. “The local labor pool here in Kentucky is fairly rich with the skills we need,” Deters says. “Plus, we’re a pretty well-known brand.”
Because who wouldn’t want to work for Big Ass Fans, where everything is looking up.
The post A Cool Place to Work appeared first on Industry Today.