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February 02, 2011

Top Desk

Corporate Connection Enriching the Corporate Office Builds Salesforce Morale

by Anne Butler, President, PartyLite Worldwide

PartyLite headquarters in Plymouth, Mass.

We create the environment that enriches your life.” That’s our new tagline here at PartyLite, and it’s working beautifully for us.

It’s a near-perfect description of what we do, what our products do for our customers, and what PartyLite does for the lives of our field leaders and consultants. But in an intriguing turn of recent events, it proved to be exactly the right message, both external and internal.

Anne Butler, President of PartyLite Worldwide, and Michael Norris, President of PartyLite U.S.

Anne Butler, President of PartyLite Worldwide, and Michael Norris, President of PartyLite U.S.

PartyLite is the No. 1 direct seller of candles and home fragrance products in the world, with nearly 60,000 consultants in 18 countries. A member of the Blyth family of home fragrance products and related candle accessories, PartyLite was established in 1973. As our domestic business grew, our headquarters in historic Plymouth, Mass., expanded to include several buildings. Our business has changed in many ways over the years, but our company headquarters, not so much.

When I became President of PartyLite Worldwide in June 2007, I knew we had a unique opportunity to recreate our home office to reflect our company’s current needs. Rather than hanging on to the past, it was time to rethink our offices. We had a small warehouse and a consumer testing lab, but we no longer needed them, because we had expanded our facilities in Batavia, Ill., where our candles are made. Also, an entire wing of our current building was empty, because we moved to automated order entry years ago. The wide open, empty spaces within our building’s four wings were like ghosts of the past. Plus, all of the walls were painted our original corporate teal and gray colors.

Clearly, our work environment was in serious need of enrichment.

At the same time, I realized that this opportunity could go far beyond renovating and decorating our space. At PartyLite, our focus is and always has been on our field. We all understand that our success depends on their success, and we devote ourselves passionately to that primary goal.

Our success depends on our field’s success.

We hold events for our leaders and consultants all over the world, but because we’re located at the easternmost tip of the United States, those events rarely take place at our home office. So the PartyLite staff, which is second to none in its warm approach to assisting the field, communicates by phone and email. Many of our employees rarely, if ever, get to actually meet the people they serve.

But by renovating our home office and debuting it to our top leaders last October, we created the perfect occasion for everyone to get to know each other in person—and match voices to faces.

Extreme Makeover, Corporate Style

We commissioned a professional firm to brighten up our flagship building with bright colors that would reflect our new, flexible, nimble spirit as well as celebrate our heritage. I wanted everyone who walked into the building to immediately get a sense of what PartyLite is—a people business.

I have always felt strongly about bringing people closer together to make working easier and more fun. With our old setup, it was very difficult for this to happen. But with a new layout that filled in dead spaces with lively team members, we would achieve it.

The photo wall of top leaders at PartyLite.
The photo wall of top leaders at PartyLite.

Selecting the color palette became a companywide sport. Only two of the original four colors recommended by our designer survived. The two wings of the ground floor were supposed to be different shades—apricot and rust. After employee input, only the favorite, apricot, survived. The architect suggested yellow for the second floor, but nobody liked any of the shades. Instead, our employees picked a lovely shade of blue, and there it is, accenting the walls of the PartyLite U.S and finance wing today.

Our most controversial color, an “electric” lime green in our technology and human resources wing, caused quite a stir. People either loved it or hated it. Our younger technology employees prevailed when they proclaimed it appropriate for the forward-thinking, lively team that is so instrumental in the PartyLite transformation.

Our field and other visitors have always been impressed to see our atrium, where we fly the country flag of each worldwide market. We’re proud to be No. 19 out of the top 100 direct selling companies worldwide, and those flags help tell our story of how PartyLite offers women and men a meaningful earning opportunity in so many parts of the world. But even our atrium needed an enriching touch.
We added some special touches, including a photo wall of our top leaders, regional vice presidents and senior regional vice presidents, as well as a history wall and a monitor playing a video loop of our company history.

The Atrium at PartyLite.
The Atrium at PartyLite.

In another corner, we highlighted our achievements in the community as well as in our industry. And we added a cozy seating area and a special showcase for our products.

We also “branded” the building by adding large product photos of our beautiful candles and home fragrance products to our walls and placing the latest products throughout the atrium, hallways and office spaces.

Housewarming, Homecoming

Last fall, we invited our top leaders—regional vice presidents and senior regional vice presidents—to Plymouth for the grand unveiling. I have to say that their response was truly awe-inspiring. Many took photos next to their pictures on our S/RVP wall. They all told us they felt so appreciated and important to the company. One said it was the same feeling she had when she first joined PartyLite. Another said she was going to list PartyLite in her gratitude journal entry for that day.

Best of all, our employees, who were so proud of their new headquarters, acted as their tour guides. The connections were immediate and incredibly gratifying. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much bonding take place in a single day!

We held mini-seminars in every conference room to discuss key issues, like e-commerce, and to preview new products. But the hugs, the laughter and the spirit of camaraderie made the day.
The business point is clear. The pride of the home office employees was palpable. The leaders—all experts at creating personal relationships—not only enjoyed their day but also had newly cemented relationships and richer assurance that our staff is committed to being here for them.

Even more, the clear investment PartyLite had made in its headquarters conveyed a timely message for leaders to take back to their own leaders and consultants: Despite difficult economic times, PartyLite is “dressed up” for the future and will be here enriching lives, including our own, for years to come.

Anne ButlerAnne Butler is President of PartyLite Worldwide.