While the company name my be controversial, its bottom line is something everyone can agree on. With annual sales of over $125 million, Big Ass Fans, a fifteen-year-old ceiling fan design and manufacturing business based in Lexington, KY, gets its culture straight from its founder, Carey Smith.
Inc. Magazine’s January issue features an article on BAF’s hiring practices, and points out the influence of culture on the hiring process. Smith encourages a “work hard, play hard” culture, and according to Inc., “He acts as both the company’s CEO and culture czar.” Even BAF’s own Director of Business Development told CNN, “The culture is a little bit off the wall.”
But with BAF revenues more than doubling over the past three years, it sounds like this culture is working! “Smith is particularly interested in employing people who possess two specific personality traits: curiosity and positivity,” writes Inc., which means that Smith actively seeks employees that are genuinely curious rather than simply qualified. Similarly, while it’s clear Smith likes to have a good time, he wants to get the message across that BAF is “a serious place to work and slackers will not be tolerated.” Work hard, play hard indeed.
The company’s YouTube videos (humorously listed under the account name, “Fanny the Donkey”) indicate how far Smith and BAF are willing to go to show its employees AND its customers just what the “play hard” side of their culture is really like. This is best illustrated in the video titled “Big Ass Fans Fan Mail,” which features recordings of consumers who have received BAF advertising materials and called the company to complain about its controversial (and, admittedly not for everyone) name. Love the name or hate it, there is no question that Big Ass Fans and its founder Carey Smith are comfortable with, and confident in, their own corporate culture to the point where they are willing to alienate potential customers in order to live the culture of “work hard, play hard” they believe in. Take a look:
What do you think of the BAF culture? Are they crazy to limit their potential consumer base with an unconventional name and boundary-pushing YouTube videos? Or are they just espousing the culture they believe in? Would you want to work at company with a culture like Big Ass Fans?