Radio Flyer Inc.
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What They Do
Build children’s wagons, tricycles, scooters and other ride-on toys.
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
Annual Revenues: $85 Million.
What Makes Radio Flyer Inc. Great
Think back to your childhood and there’s a good chance at some point it included a shiny red wagon — a Radio Flyer red wagon to be precise.
This toy company’s iconic products have been creating fond childhood memories for people since it was founded in 1917. Close to 100 years later, it elicits the same warm feelings in employees as it does in fans– not because employees pull each other around in wagons, but because they appreciate that Radio Flyer is a fun and family-like place to work. Where else would employees feel comfortable bringing their grandmothers to work?
“The main thing that makes Radio Flyer so unique is the individuals who work here,” one employee says. “It can be very hard to find people who care and are friendly, but ‘Flyers’ truly care about each other. The ingrained sense of teamwork and family make Radio Flyer special.”
Joy is one of the first things most consumers think of when they think of Radio Flyer, and that includes the company’s 60 U.S.-based employees, nearly 90 percent of whom confirm that is indeed a fun place to work. “Everyone works hard, works together and has fun,” one employee says.
Radio Flyer encourages this light-hearted atmosphere through its products — which employees have been known to ride to meetings — and also through activities and celebrations organized by the company’s SMILE Squad. Favorite events include a Halloween party, regular celebrations of milestones such as marriages and newborns, pizza parties, happy hours and food and games during lunch hours. When employees’ kids head home after the company’s annual “Take Your Kids to Work Day,” their parents hang around for their own turn in the giant bounce house. Nearly 100 percent of their staff say that Radio Flyer is a friendly place to work where people regularly get together to celebrate special events.
“All the events we experience together help us get closer,” one employee says.
Employees also enjoy what they do, with nine out of 10 saying their work has special meaning and that it’s not just a job. Potential employees are put through a careful process in order to make sure they fit the company’s culture. In a play on the Golden Rule, Radio Flyers operate according to the Little Red Rule, which is written on the wall of its office stairwell and the backs of everyone’s business cards. A “VMV” symbol (which stand for Heart, Smile, Wagon) also shows up everywhere. Chief Executive Robert Pasin - known as the Chief Wagon Officer – personally meets with all candidates, and some new hires get one of the company’s iconic wagons filled with flowers delivered to their home before their first day.
Employees are supported in other ways as well, including helping the health-conscious group stay fit. The vast majority of employees (98 percent) take part in everything from Weight Watchers and marathons to triathlons and intramural sports. Employees who participate in those activities get $300 to help offset the cost. The company reimburses people who bike, walk or run to work at the rate of 52 cents a mile, and outfitted the office with a bike room, lockers and showers for their use. “Just the fact that they're incentivizing people to be healthier shows how much they care about the employees,” says one person, who runs 10 miles to the office a few times a week.
Radio Flyer doesn’t just take care of its own; the company looks outside its own walls to spread good cheer. Each year, the company donates thousands of wagons and other toys to schools, non-profits and hospitals, and in 2012 made additional cash donations of $289,000 to community organizations. Employees get two paid days off a year to volunteer for the charity of their choice.
While Radio Flyer naturally excels at fun and games, there is also plenty of work going on in the organization, and employees generally share a lot of faith in their leaders. Ninety percent or more say management is competent, as well as honest and ethical in their business practices. Eight out of ten or more say that managers communicate well, and that the organization has all the basics like training, fair pay and work-life balance support in place. Some would like management to share a clearer vision for the company’s future, and though eight out of 10 employees say they have opportunities for recognition, a few would like there to be more. Some employees say it’s time for some facilities improvements, an issue management appears to be addressing with the recent addition of a “backyard” for its Chicago headquarters office that includes a patio, garden and grill. The company says other goals for the future include emphasizing sustainability, as well as helping employees further develop their careers to find out what they can do to “make a difference for yourself and the world.”
Many employees say wouldn’t change a thing about working at Radio Flyer. “Whenever someone asks me about my job,” one employee says, “I have to stop myself from talking their ear off with all the great things about this place.”
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