CEOs Talk Workplace: Dave Pace on Jamba Juice’s New “Whirl’d Support Center”

Dave Pace in the new Jamba Juice headquarters. Image courtesy of Jamba Juice.

Jamba Juice — possibly the world’s most recognizable purveyor of premium blends and juices — moved their Bay Area-headquarters to Frisco, Tex. in October 2016. We recently spoke with the company’s CEO, Dave Pace, about planning for and adjusting to the new office, and how it’s propelling the Jamba brand.

Image courtesy of Jamba Juice.

Bob Fox: Let’s start with a little bit of background on Jamba Juice. I know you just moved from California to Texas?

Dave Pace: Our new office is right on the Plano/Frisco border. We’re a 27-year-old company, founded in 1990 in San Luis Obispo. With more than 900 stores globally, we have a pretty large footprint, and a recognizable brand. People know Jamba and are passionate about it.

Our stores have always featured bright, bold colors, which is reflected in our office too. From an environmental standpoint, we’ve tried to make it informal and fun, consistent with the brand. The space is also very open and collaborative.

What about the numbers: how many employees, size of space, etc.?

We have about 100 people at the Support Center, and 25,000 square feet of space that incorporates an open office plan along with reception area, and an innovation lab where we dream up and test everything that goes into stores. We also have 800 square feet of retail store space, which is a functioning Jamba Juice that services Hall Office Park and is open to the public.

Any performance measures on how well the space is doing?

We have cultural scores and alignment for our team. We wanted to facilitate collaboration, and for it to be a welcoming space. We want people to go home and tell their families about it. We have a variety of interesting open collaboration spaces, as well as a “Liberry”, which features sectional couches and white boards to do group brainstorming.

You’re talking about the right issues! I guess I’m curious in terms of, you described retail experience — when somebody walks into the office, is it an experience, too?

The sensory experience we’re striving to deliver with the office is the same as in the stores. When you walk in, you’ll see a bright logo, and a polished concrete floor that has a giant Jamba whirl on it. You’ll find oversized graphics of fruits and vegetables on walls, and conference rooms named after signature smoothies.

The Dallas Morning News did a story on it: “More bright colors than a fourth grader’s art project!”, or something like that.

We’ve tried to incorporate all of the sensory elements that you get in the stores. We play upbeat music in the reception and break areas, and some of the common areas. When our juicer is on, there’s an aroma of fresh citrus throughout the office, and certainly in the innovation lab where we frequently juice oranges. It’s like aromatherapy.

The “fruit bar” in the cafe. Image courtesy of Jamba Juice.

In the lobby, there’s a flat screen that displays memorabilia from the brand. We have ten-foot-high doors on every office and they’re all painted in bright colors of our whirl — greens, reds, and oranges. All of the desks are sit-to-stand desks and most people stand at their desk, which supports our fit and fun culture. We’ve got our break room, high back cafe seating, and a bar — the front is filled with fruit, plastic yet realistic. We have a live Twitter feed in the break room so employees can see live what people are saying about Jamba. It’s a chance to connect with the customer even in the office. It’s a reminder to me and to our team that we support the customer, we support the stores.

How would you describe work that you and employees do in the new office?

We have a little bit of everything. This is our central “Whirl’d Support Center”. We have our corporate finance team, legal team, HR, operations, store design, accounting, marketing, supply chain, IT, R&D, everything.

You talked about increasing collaboration in the office — how are you doing this?

There are a couple of ways. We have small, informal collaboration areas all around the office. We have these high back benches, five-feet-high at least, kind of like a booth; they form three sides of a square and the fourth side is a wall that’s a whiteboard. If you’re sitting in those, you can have a private conversation out in the open. The Liberry is really informal and a good space to get a bigger group in. Two of the walls on every conference room are glass, which you can write on with dry erase markers. The conference rooms also have flat screen TVs, good for video conferencing and presentations.

What’s the biggest value you’re getting out of the workplace right now?

The value is that we’ve made the workplace easy and fun, and a place where people want to come to work. They’re not in a rush to leave, they don’t feel isolated. The space is fun and bright, colorful and informal. Our dress code — we brought California with us. It’s jeans, whatever you want to wear. A very youthful, fun environment.

Image courtesy of Jamba Juice.

Was there a strategy around creating that vibe?

The objective was to make sure the space was aligned with the culture that we wanted, the brand, and the stores.

Name one of the things in the space that’s most important to you. Or where are you most willing to spend money?

I think it was just, in general, in the collaboration spaces, trying to figure out how to make it easy for people to work. The sit-to-stand desks — all of our desks are power operated sit-to-stand — people love them, everybody said they wanted them. They’re not inexpensive but by the same token they’ve been a big hit.

Have you implemented any sort of sustainable, health, fitness, or well-being initiatives?

As part of our culture, that’s an important piece. We do “Workout Wednesdays”. Part of the reason people don’t work out is they don’t have their clothes or don’t want to change. So we say, ok, come in to work in your workout gear. We encourage our team to go out, take walks, or get together during lunch for yoga. In our reception area we have three bikes with helmets, you can sign them out. Part of the reason we chose Hall Office Park is that there are a lot of walking trails.

If I visited the office today, what would I take away?

You’d say, “This feels like Jamba.” You’d walk away feeling it was consistent with the brand in terms of colors, textures and feel. Nobody’s going to mistake us for a law office. So there’s the informality and fun, the bright colors and boldness of the brand. It feels contemporary and current. And you’d feel like there are so many places for me to work with different people.

What was the reaction of staff after moving in?

It has been great. It has been one of the things that really helps us from a recruiting standpoint. People are proud to show the office to families. We have a couple people, late 20s, they’ve been with us 8 to 10 years, and they say that it feels like “Jamba’s really grown up.” It’s a professional environment, but informal at the same time.

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