Beyond the Bottom Line

Would you ever consider a company garden? This employer believes a positive work environment pays dividends in the form of a happy, motivated and productive workforce (includes video).


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This report from San Diego’s Channel 4 news team covers “Sparky’s Garden,” a joint venture between Seescan, the subject of our September issue cover story, and sister company Deep Sea Power and Light. (Note that references to “SeekTech” are outdated—that was the company’s name prior to adopting the Seescan moniker.)

I knew upon arrival that Seescan wouldn’t be a typical shop visit. For one, the company is an OEM with a captive mold shop, not a dedicated mold-manufacturing operation. Beyond that, my host, Kirk Joy, had told me previously that the company was a bit different.

Still, I was taken aback. We started with a tour of the entire facility. On the way to the break room, we passed an indoor aviary, where the latest generation of cockatiels had first opened their eyes just a few weeks earlier. The break room itself offered not just the obligatory cafeteria tables and vending machines, but a truly tranquil resting space—an adjoining alcove, set off by glass walls, featuring a bench, a skylight, various rocks and plants, and a pond stocked with fish. Elsewhere, various flyers outlined staffers’ recycling efforts. Posters on one wall indicated which fruit-bearing trees and vegetable plants in the expansive, employee-tended orchard and gardens were currently in season. Those orchards and gardens, by the way, offer an outstanding birds-eye view of the surrounding San Diego metropolitan area. (According to its dedicated website, the garden is named "Sparky's Garden" after the compay mascot).

Although Joy had big plans for his own garden plot this year, his work as manager of the OEM’s captive plastic injection mold manufacturing operation has kept him far too busy (read this September issue article to learn about recent changes at the captive shop). Yet, he appreciates evidence that the company where he spends so much time is focused on more than just the bottom line. Indeed, providing a positive work environment is a key component of the philosophy on which the company was built. Mark Olsson, founder and CEO, believes this helps unlock employees’ full potential by empowering them to be creative. Creativity—and the freedom to use it—are critical to turning new ideas into finished products, and time to market is the primary metric by which this company measures its success.

That’s the primary metric by which the company’s manufacturing operation is judged as well. As detailed in this September article, recent improvements there have been dramatic. Yet, even when isolated to the mold shop alone, the story involves a heavy intangible element. How people are managed, it seems, can be just as critical as the technology on the shop floor. Perhaps Seescan is onto something with its orchards and gardens.

Speaking of, that particular aspect of the company is notable enough to have attracted the attention of the San Diego’s Channel 4 news team. Check out the video above to see their full report (note that references to “SeekTech” are outdated—that was the company’s name prior to adopting the Seescan moniker).

Would you ever consider a company garden? Does your company do anything to enhance the work experience for employees? If so, I’d love to hear about it—just send me an email.