OtterBox's OtterCares Initiative Proves the Importance of Community

Otter 003 There's a certain biblical reference to which the altruistic company OtterBox likes to point—"To whom much is given, much is expected." This is a company that is living the essence of that platitude: It has achieved remarkable growth over a number of years, and it is doing all it can to give back to the community from which it sprung.

Surely you're familiar with OtterBox. Heck, you might even be intimately familiar with this company, without even realizing it! Chances are, you keep this company at your hip pocket at all times. OtterBox manufactures popular protective solutions for a variety of handheld devices such as smartphones and MP3 players.

OtterBox prides itself on its homegrown, northern-Colorado location, attributing the active lifestyle to the rugged design of its cases. The company's offices, after all, are located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, known worldwide for their plethora of biking, hiking, running, camping, kayaking, boating, skiing, and snowboarding opportunities. These are the conditions for which OtterBox's protective cases are ideal, but OtterBox's products are selling impressively around the globe.

With that kind of admirable success, the company knew it had to give something back, and that's when the OtterCares foundation was born—a private entity that's separate from OtterBox itself. OtterCares' two charity functions are to bestow grants and to involve OtterBox employees in their community.

At the company's Old Town Fort Collins, Colorado, office, I met with Tricia Lemmer, OtterCares' Development Director, to talk about the OtterCares mission and its successes.

ottercares "We're lucky," Tricia told me. "We've become successful thanks of a lot of support from the Fort Collins community. And now that we're in a position to do so, we decided we needed to start giving back. And our long-term hope is that our efforts will have a ripple effect—a pay-it-forward effect."

Consider OtterCares' G3 Challenge—"Get It, Grow It, Give It"—which launched the foundation. Each employee was given a $200 grant certificate and challenged to find a way to grow that money by making a personal matching donation, volunteering their time, or donating goods toward the charity of their choice. In less than a month, OtterBox employees raised about $30,000 for a total donation of $75,000 to 45 local and 28 regional and national charitable organizations. OtterCares plans to make G3 Challenge an annual giving project in which employees can participate.

Tricia is proud of the many ways that OtterBox employees have found to give back to their community.

"Our primary mission is to empower the youth in northern Colorado, and our employees really embraced the opportunities," Tricia says. "They became Big Brothers or Sisters, they donated their time at the Boys & Girls Club, they helped out at schools and camps, they had bake sales to double their grants for donations—there's really a wide array of opportunities." The company recently announced that each employee would receive three days off from work, to use for their community efforts.

Talk about a great way to boost employee morale and encourage team building! "These people," Tricia says, "are excited about creating a better world together. And that personal satisfaction translates to the workplace." Nancy Richardson, OtterCares' founder and president, has said, "The true reward from this project is seen in the pride and satisfaction our employees feel when they give of themselves.”

The OtterBox environment comprises a series of branch offices—a situation that particularly benefits from a team-building effort such as this one. It brings the employees together into a sort of family. Tricia's challenge, as the company continues to grow larger, is to maintain that sense of family as OtterBox gains more people and stretches across greater distances. She will strive to keep employees involved and focus on the scalability of her foundation.

Just walking through the OtterBox offices and observing the copious good cheer—along with posters everywhere outlining personal and professional team goals among the workforce—it's clear that her focus is paying off.

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