Build-A-Bear Workshop Ranked No. 48

Fortune Magazine just released its list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, ahead of the February 7 issue which focuses on the list.  Not surprisingly, Build-A-Bear Workshop is on the list.  It also had huge growth on the list, moving from No. 80 in 2010 to No. 48 in 2011.  That is a huge jump!

Here is what Fortune said about BABW.  And be sure to check out the entire list.

Rank: 48 (Previous rank: 80)

What makes it so great?
Warm-and-fuzzy culture may overuse puns (“Reach Fur the Stars” and “CollaBEARate”), but it gives part-time store workers health, dental, and vision benefits, while HQ staff enjoy on-site yoga and Zumba workout classes.

Headquarters:
World Bearquarters

1954 Innerbelt Business Center Drive
St. Louis, MO 63114

2009 revenue ($ millions): 394
Website: www.buildabear.com

 

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Build-A-Bear Workshop Presentation

I wrote in an earlier post about my internship presentation to the Build-A-Bear Workshop Chiefs and Managing Directors.  I’ve had some questions so I figured I would share more of an “outline” of that presentation.  Some notes are below.

® & © 2010 Build-A-Bear Workshop. Reproduced with permission—all rights reserved.

Slide 1

My position, my supervisors

Slide 2

Who I Am – high school, college, etc.

Slide 3

Learning about the Build-A-Bear Workshop business and shortened project list.

Slide 4

Introduce the International Holiday Toolkit and it’s role in the International Operations Summit; the focus on execution.

Slide 5

More details on the Holiday Toolkit – designed to fit Summit theme, made more functional, easier implementation, led collaborative effort of departments across the company.

Slide 6

My Takeaways:

  • The opportunities and challenges of running an international business.
  • Tim has described our work as a business of relationships.  Whether it is coordinating projects with an international team made up of representatives from across the company or saying something to each franchisee in just the right way, this statement is certainly true.
  • Happy employees are more productive and are able to create new and happier customers.
  • Asking questions, exploring new ideas, and challenging the status quo are not only okay but important pieces of business growth.
  • The importance of simplicity and clarity.
  • Excel is everywhere and that larger paper can offer larger spreadsheets.

Slide 7

Impact on my career plan:

  • Desire in an employer and piqued my interest in exploring the world of franchising.
  • I want to work for a company which values its employees and its customers, that has great public reception, and which cares about more than just the bottom line.
  • I like the fast-paced work environment with projects that change daily and unexpectedly.
  • Tim has taught me that franchising is “like being on the board of a bunch of small companies”.
  • This translates into Karen’s description of Build-A-Bear’s franchising as working like consultants.

Slide 8

Thank you for an amazing experience and a great opportunity!

End of Internship & Final Project List

Well, today was the last day of my internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop.  I cannot believe how quickly it went.  While I was a bit unsure about leaving summer camp, I have had an amazing experience and learned, contributed, and grew more than I ever could have expected.  I am very happy to have had this experience.

Today I had the ability to sit down with Tim and Karen and talk for a bit, get to know Darlene better (she is the head of HR), complete projects, clean up, and say my goodbyes.  Although, I hope they are really just “see you laters”.  That would be wonderful.  I plan on keeping up with the progress of the company and related news.  I will certainly be back to visit BearQuarters and stay in touch with those I worked with this summer.  Who knows – if I am lucky, I will have the opportunity to do so again.

Below is the final list of the projects I completed in my internship this summer:

Project List

  • Updated Merchandising Assortment Guide (MAG)
  • Updated and branded prospective franchisee materials
  • Partnered in the preparation of a PowerPoint presentation on International for a Board of Directors meeting
  • Compiled international store profit/loss analysis
  • Analyzed seasonal global sales by country and product for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
    • Developed tools for an international assessment of the World Cup program
    • Created reports for the FIFA licensor towards evaluation of a contract for the 2014 World Cup
  • Created a “toolkit” to assist franchisees in driving sales during Quarter 4 / 2010 Holidays that involved compilation and creation of resources from across the company
  • Helped plan the 2010 International Operations Summit
    • Developed presentation materials for presenters
  • Organized international store pictures
  • Updated international store layout/blueprint records for store fixture assessment
  • Researched 2011 International Licensing Opportunities
  • Analyzed international supply chain/inventory flow and product loads by country as a tool for assessing the international franchise model
  • Assisted franchisees in developing inventory forecasts and turnover/ordering projections
  • Reviewed new store proposal/design and real estate opportunities
  • Offered feedback on business plans submitted by prospective franchisees
  • Conducted merchandise reviews for seasonal and core product planning, ordering, and delivery
  • Developed tools for end-of-season program evaluation and product analysis
  • Assisted in the development of strategy and promotional plans for complimentary business products
  • Acted on behalf of franchisees in resolving disputed invoices
  • Assisted with headquarters training of franchisees
  • Filled out a Franchise Offering Circular for new franchise development
  • Forecasted yearly revenue from royalties and development fee amortization in developing the FY2011 International Department budget
  • Communicated regularly with franchisees worldwide

Through these projects I have been able to:

  • Analyze and evaluate product sales
  • Assist in franchise development
  • Help franchisees become more profitable while increasing royalties to Build-A-Bear Workshop®
Countries with Build-A-Bear Franchises (as of 13 August 2010)

Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, Japan, South Africa, Germany, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Russia, Singapore

It may seem unrealistic to have done all of this in just ten weeks, but that is the reality of Build-A-Bear Workshop – surpassing expectations. 🙂

The Second To Last Day

Today was amazing.  I really do not want this internship to end.  I hate goodbyes – although hopefully this will not be goodbye.  I would love the opportunity to come back to work for Build-A-Bear Workshop after graduation and it seems as though that may be a possibility if a position becomes available.  I’ve got my fingers crossed.

When I got to work today, I had an email from Maxine (the CEO) that she had sent to all of the interns with the subject “You guys rock!!!”.  That’s pretty awesome.  She wanted to thank us for our work this summer and asked us to be in touch.  That seems to be a theme with most people in the company and they genuinely seem to mean it.  I will definitely be in touch.

Laurie, who coordinates our internship program, shared with me a message that Maxine had sent out to Tina (CFO), Eric (General Counsel), Darlene (Chief of HR), and Laurie early this morning.  She had seen my blog post from yesterday and sent it to them to “enjoy”.  How nice!

Today I worked on finishing a few projects, went to lunch with the international team, met with several people, and went to the Bon Voyage Paw-ty for the interns.

At lunch, Cory and I were each given a Zakumi, the World Cup mascot, from Build-a-Bear Workshop International for our work on the World Cup as well as a Build-A-Bear Workshop International portfolio and highly sought after jacket.  I was pleasantly surprised and am happy to be able to take these with me to remember the international team.

At our Bon Voyage Paw-ty, a good chunk of BearQuarters showed up to say goodbye.  It was nice of them to come se us off and showed me, once again, how interconnected we all are.  The company gave each intern a bear with a shirt that had been embroidered with our university name on it, a signed copy (with a personal note) of Maxine’s book, The Bear Necessities of Business, among other gifts.  They are really very kind.

I met with Tina and Eric today.  It was my first chat with Tina and I got to find out her history and involvement in the company and a bit about her personally.  I was able to reflect on the summer and the company’s future with both of them.  Everyone here has such unique stories and perspectives that together give the company a lot of opportunities.

There will be a Bear Builder in town from Denmark the week after next.  Even though I will no longer be with the company, I have been invited to help show him around St. Louis and participate in events with him in the evening.  That should be a lot of fun.

One more day.  I know it will be good.

Pictures from the BearQuarters Meeting

Here are a couple of pictures from Tuesday’s BearQuarters meeting:

Pinatas in honor of Mexico during the International presentation at the BearQuarters meeting

Showing off furry fashion at the BearQuarters fashion show.

Build-A-Bear Catch-Up

Alright, so I have been slacking in my blog posts – but there is a lot to write.  I am going on vacation immediately after my internship ends (!) on Friday though and unfortunately, do not have a ton of time.  As such, I will not be able to go into as much depth on some of these topics as I would have otherwise done.

On Monday, all of the interns gave a presentation on each of our experiences this summer at Build-A-Bear Workshop to the Chiefs and Managing Directors of the company as well as all of the intern supervisors.  We had five minutes to cover a lot of information: who I am, summary of projects, highlight a key project(s) (I selected the International Holiday Toolkit), key takeaways from the summer, and the affect of the internship on career plans.  My presentation went well I believe (I mean, it did include a vuvuzela on the table and a joke about Excel) and I have been pleased with the feedback I have gotten – including from the CEO and from the President!

Yesterday, I had the privilege to sit down for about half an hour with Maxine Clark, Chief Executive Bear and Chairman of Build-A-Bear Workshop.  She was very welcoming.  Meeting with her was not stressful, but rather seemed like a conversation with a very knowledgable friend.  She asked what questions I had about the company or her.  I asked about her thoughts on company growth,the role of international, the importance of philanthropy to her personally and to the company, how she manages time, company culture, when she knew she “made it”, what was the inspiration behind the company/what convinced her to give up her job as President of Payless Shoesource to start Build-A-Bear Workshop, among other questions.  She was very honest and shared some of her personal history with me.  It was a great conversation.  It is easy to see why she is so admired and how the company has grown so quickly.  She is definitely a role model.  Maxine ended our conversation by asking for a hug. 🙂

Today was the quarterly BearQuarters meeting.  I was involved in a few parts for which we practiced yesterday.  They began the meeting by recognizing new associates, including the interns.  We got several shout outs, which was nice.  Maxine introduced the first speaker, a lady from the United Way.  Her story was extremely potent.  Build-A-Bear has a company campaign to support the United Way and this was certainly a great way to get people energized for it.  The meeting included presentations by Tina Klocke, Chief Operations and Financial Bear (CFO), and John Haugh, President and Chief Marketing Bear, about the state of the business.  It certainly is encouraging.  There was also a presentation on corporate sales.

I was involved in two other pieces of the meeting: the international presentation and the fashion show.  Tim made a presentation at the meeting on news about the international franchisees including new business development, world cup sales, landmark store sales, and awards in Australia.  In honor of the success of Mexico, we had pinatas which we broke during the meeting.  It was a great surprise.

Before Maxine spoke to conclude the meeting (during which time she mentioned the importance and value of diversity!), there was a fashion show to show off the new product that will premiere during the quarter.  Most of the interns helped with this.  It was the first time I have been paid to be in a fashion show! Although, I guess the animals had the fashion…  Be sure to check out the Smallfrys when they premiere in September.  They are awesome and I really want them… all.  I am glad that I had the opportunity to see one of this meetings and participate in it.

I have been working on a lot of projects lately including preparing PowerPoints for the fall International Operations Summit, new business government filing for expansion, evaluation of world cup sales in anticipation of 2014, preparing the FY2011 International Department budget, and more.  I will post my final list of projects after the internship is over.

Today I was putting together one of the PowerPoints for the fall Summit and included the video from the Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For”.  If you watch it, you will see several people I have ben working with closely this summer – including my new dog friend, Heath.

Tomorrow, Cory and I are going to lunch with the international team.  I’m looking forward to it, but it also makes me a bit sad to realize that the internship is ending.  I have several other meetings tomorrow though.  When I met with Maxine, she suggested meeting with a few other people before I leave so tomorrow I am meeting with Tina (CFO) and Eric Fencl (General Counsel).  I look forward to those meetings.

It was clear from today’s meeting that we have been appreciated and our work recognized throughout the company.  I will certainly miss working there.  Two more days.  Wow!

Behind On My Posts

I need to go to bed, but (partially as a reminder to myself) I still need to post about quite a few things from my internship at Build-A-Bear Workshop this summer that I am behind on:

  • My internship presentation to the Chiefs and Managing Directors
  • Meeting with Maxine Clark, Chief Executive Bear
  • Preparations for tomorrow’s Quarterly BearQuarters Meeting
  • Tomorrow’s Quarterly BearQuarters meeting
  • My recent projects

It’s amazing that I am almost halfway done with my last week of the internship!  I have no idea where the summer has gone.  It has certainly been great.

Thoughts On The Week & A Meaningful Song From Jason Mraz

I have not done so well at posting things this week.  Life has just been crazy busy – but in a good way.  Unfortunately, because I am so busy, I have to turn down opportunities to see friends and family (which I, of course, would rather not do).  I wish there was more time to see people.

It’s been an extremely busy week at work – and the work I am doing is certainly useful.  I have been helping to plan the fall Operations Summit, preparing my presentation on my internship that I will be giving to the Build-A-Bear Workshop Chiefs and Managing Directors, compiling sales data for license product contract renewal, completing filings with governments for new franchise business development, and much more.

I cannot believe that one week from tomorrow will be the last day of my internship!  This summer has gone so fast!

As I reflect on the summer, I find the words of “Details in the Fabric” by Jason Mraz meaningful.  The song was shared this week at BearQuarters:

Details in the Fabric
by: Jason Mraz

Calm down
Deep breaths
And get yourself dressed instead
Of running around
And pulling all your threads saying
Breaking yourself up

If it’s a broken part, replace it
But, if it’s a broken arm then brace it
If it’s a broken heart then face it

And hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way

And everything will be fine
Everything will be fine

Hang on
Help is on the way
Stay strong
I’m doing everything

Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way

And everything, everything will be fine
Everything

Are the details in the fabric
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling?

Are the things that make you blow
No reason, go on and scream
If you’re shocked it’s just the fault
Of faulty manufacturing.

Yeah everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Everything

Hold your own
And know your name
And go your own way

Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling? (Go your own way)

Are the things that make you blow (Hold your own, know your name)
No reason go on and scream
If you’re shocked it’s just the fault (Go your own way)
Of faulty manufacturing

Everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Hearts will hold

Update to Doggie Tale #2: The Missing Pup

In case you were wondering/worried:

The lost dog that showed up to Build-A-Bear has made his way home!  Lenny (that’s his name) was identified from the Craig’s List post (good thing that is there).  After spending part of the weekend with a Build-A-Bear employee, Lenny has been reunited with his owner.

I guess he missed out on Build-A-Bear day at Busch Stadium (seeing the St. Louis Cardinals!).  That was Sunday and was a great game.

Tales of Two Dogs

Build-A-Bear Workshop is quite the place.  At the World BearQuarters, people can bring their dogs to work with them. It’s great being able to walk around the office and pet dogs.  They even come to meetings.  I’m sure this is part of the reason Build-A-Bear Workshop is on the 100 Best Companies To Work For list.  Here are two stories from this past week:

Tale #1: A Birthday Party

One day earlier this week I heard rumblings from nearby in HR about a birthday party.  Naturally, my interest was piqued.  I always enjoy celebrating a good birthday… and the cake isn’t so bad either :-).  I did want to intrude though so I went to take something over to another person’s desk and she was going to the party, as was someone else nearby.  I figured since one of them wasn’t  “officially” invited, but was still going, that I could go as well.  That was when I found out that the party was for Jose.

Jose is a dog.  A fun dog – and apparently a very lucky dog.  Jose had a party.  His dog friends and their owners were invited.  We went into Bear U (yes, that is what Build-A-Bear calls their large meeting room/auditorium) and had cake made with honey and peanut butter for the dogs.  Let me clarify – the dogs had cake.  I might have been jealous…

As the dogs played with each other and ate, I thought that these dogs have a pretty good life.  Especially Jose, he even got gifts.

Tale #2: The Missing Pup

Today I got to work and heard comments about some beagle going around the building.  Shortly thereafter, Laurie sent an email out to the BearQuarters with the subject line of “Did you lose a very cute beagle?” and the body of “If so, you can find your pup in Operations…s/he has been contained :-)”.  Soon after I found out that the beagle did not belong to anyone at Build-A-Bear.  Someone saw the dog outside the office door, thought he belonged to someone who worked there, and let him in!

This beagle was pretty lucky (like Jose).  Note to dogs: if you are lost, make your way to Build-A-Bear Workshop.  Of all of the places to end up, this was it.  Several people went up and down nearby streets to see if anyone had lost the dogs.  Others called area vets and shelters to see if anyone reported him.  No one had.  In the meantime, notices about the lost dog were posted on Fido Finder and Craig’s List.  One person responded to the posts, but for the wrong gender dog.

As all of this was going on, the lost beagle was given plenty of attention (he was pretty well behaved).  The beagle, whose name we do not know, was given food, treats, and toys to play with.  He even got to play with other dogs.  Eventually though, he seemed to realize he was in the wrong place and got sad.  Nevertheless, this beagle was not taken to the pound.  Rather, one of the BearQuarters employees took him home for the weekend and will continue to try to find the owner.  Perhaps he has a chip?

This beagle ended up at the right place.  One intelligent pup.