26. Fuse

Marketing agency

LOCATION: Burlington, VT
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 35
BEST PERKS: Alternative work environment, Flex time, Swag
HIRING? YES! fusemarketing.com

Fuse is a youth-marketing agency that helps clients market to teens and young adults through sports, music, fashion, gaming, and other interests. Fuse services include brand strategy, event marketing, public relations, design, and digital. Selected current or past clients include Gatorade, Mountain Dew, New Balance, Burton Snowboards, and Teton Gravity Research. Recent agency expansion has included brand licensing and higher-education marketing. Fuse employs a staff of youth-marketing experts recruited from leading brands, agencies, and media. 



COMPANY CULTURE

The agency’s culture is creative and energetic, and it has progressive benefits and practices that foster a positive and balanced working environment. The staff value Fuse’s work atmosphere, which fosters creativity and encourages independent work while providing support and growth opportunities. Staff also value Fuse’s rich health benefits and its laid back, creative (and dog-friendly) workplace. Fuse’s new offices were designed to inspire creativity with interesting spaces.



EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION AND AWARDS

Fuse provides a year-end bonus to full-time employees based on agency performance during the year, as well as 401(k) profit sharing. In addition, the agency provides periodic employee gifts. In a past year, the gift was a custom sweatshirt with artwork designed by an employee. In the summer of 2009, to celebrate Fuse moving to the new renovated-mill office space, staff were treated to a half-day canoe and kayak trip down the Winooski River. In 2010, to commemorate Fuse’s 15-year anniversary, Fuse gave an iPad to each full-time employee.
 Each year at Fuse’s holiday party, Fuse partners recognize and celebrate its employees who have reached their 5-year anniversary. Award recipients receive a commemorative trophy as well as a special gift specifically selected to match the employee’s interests. Examples include a surf trip to Nicaragua, a helicopter snowboarding trip, a Mac laptop, and a motor scooter.



FITNESS BENEFITS
Fuse has a rec area within our offices. The space contains a skateboard halfpipe, basketball hoop, and room for other fitness activities. Fuse has stand-up paddleboards for staff to use during lunchtime on the Winooski River, which is located just outside the office. Fuse’s office includes a shower, which allows staff to exercise on the way to work or during lunch. Fuse encourages staff to ride to work and offers a bike-repair stand and tools. In addition, there are loaner bikes to use to cruise for lunch or errands. Fuse offers full-time employees a season resort pass at their choice of several ski or snowboard areas in Vermont. A fitness reimbursement program provides an annual allowance that can be used for a number of fitness, recreational, and wellness products and services. Staff have used this benefit to purchase numerous mountain bikes, a kayak, a rowing machine, rock-climbing gear, Pilates and yoga classes, nutritional counseling, and personal fitness training.
Fuse organizes numerous team-building activities, including moonlit snowshoe hikes, canoe and whitewater-rafting trips, and a company ride day at a local resort each year.
In 2010, Fuse offered employees the opportunity to receive an ergonomic analysis of their workstation and a coaching session with a wellness professional.



FLEXTIME
From Memorial Day through Labor Day, Fuse has half-day Fridays. It is very common to see a group of employees go mountain biking or trail running together to make the most of their afternoon off. Fuse also has a winter snow policy that encourages staff to hit the mountain when it snows 12 or more inches in 24 hours. Staff can catch first runs in fresh powder in the morning and make up their hours at the end of the day. To be sure staff maintain a healthy work-life balance and to prevent burnout, there is a comp-day program that allows staff to earn a day off for each full day worked on a weekend.



COMMUNITY SERVICE

For many years, Fuse has provided discounted or free services to nonprofits. Examples include managing sports- and music-festival events for Boarding for Breast Cancer from 1995 to 2000 (the events raised over $500,000), assisting Do-Something.org with strategy and planning work, and developing a website for the Athlete Recovery Fund, a nonprofit that helped action-sports athletes deal with catastrophic injuries. 2010 marked the fourth year Fuse has implemented its annual Holiday Artist Collaboration, in which the agency makes a donation to a youth-focused national or local charity. The program has supported the Chill Foundation, Drums and Disabilities, Make-a-Wish Foundation of Vermont, and Stoked Mentoring and has featured such artists as Bigfoot, Mikey Welsh, Kenzo Minami, and Suiko. In addition, Fuse allows paid hours for employees to volunteer at a charity of their choice and regularly communicates volunteer opportunities in the area. In 2010, Fuse had a leadership role in mobilizing young adults to improve the local community. Working with the United Way of Chittenden County, a group of Fuse partners and employees lead an effort to engage peers within and outside the company to create an annual event called Mission Possible. It raised awareness of the cause among thousands of young people and engaged 20 local businesses, setting the stage for even more impact in 2011.

GREEN INITIATIVES

In 2010, Fuse implemented an annual green-office initiative. Members of the operations staff surveyed employees and investigated its green performance in a variety of areas (carbon footprint, purchasing practices, etc.). The agency ultimately implemented a number of changes and also changed buying practices to green cleaning products and postconsumer recycled paper. Finally, infrastructure changes were made, like switching from water bubblers that require bottle delivery to an in-house filtration system and replacing paper towels with hand driers.

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