Smith Optics

Ketchum, ID, 68 Employees

WELCOME TO BRO-LANDIA: "People here have a lot of respect for powder days," says communications manager Gregory Randolph. As well they should. The company makes high-performance goggles, sunglasses, and prescription eyewear; home is a classic mountain town; and founder Bob Smith started out by trading handmade goggles for lift tickets at western resorts. So if the snow is falling or the trout are biting, "the phone rings for a long time," says Randolph. An 800-square-foot gear-storage area includes workbenches and bike and snow­sports tools and sits across the hall from a locker room and showers.
PAY FOR PLAY: Employees are given stipends of $1,000 to cover sports and wellness expenditures, plus all the products they can make time to test. Says Randolph, "Recreation is encouraged."


Smith Optics is a manufacturer and purveyor of sunglasses, prescription eyewear, snow goggles, moto goggles, and snow helmets, with its roots in the action sports industry. Smith designs, produces, manufactures, and sells these products in the U.S. and around the world.

We work hard at Smith, and employees are expected to work 40-plus hours a week. Yet recreation and fun is what we sell, and our employee policy allows for extended lunch hours and, depending on job and department, flexible work hours to enable workers to get on the mountain, out on the trail, or on the river. Get your work done, get your hours in, and get your ski/bike/snowboard/fish on! We live in a pretty tempting place, and people find it pretty hard to just punch the clock.

Smith has a complete locker room and equipment/gear storage and maintenance room with tools. We are located literally minutes from a world-class ski hill, world-class nordic trail system, world-class fishing, and world-class mountain biking, not to mention across the street from a complete gym and physical fitness center. We make using these facilities as easy and convenient as possible by facilitating their use with first-class infrastructure.

We have mountain-bike/hike Thursdays, when employees can use their extended lunch hour to get out and recreate together. Employees receive an annual stipend of $1,000 to offset costs of ski passes, nordic passes, track fees, and pretty much anything else that can be loosely translated as our favorite excuse to get outside: "product testing"!

Ninety-six percent of all unpainted Smith goggle frames (snow and moto goggles) are made of recycled and post-consumer urethane. This is our largest-volume product and represents nearly 100,000 units a year. We also use 100 percent post-consumer and recycled wood fibers for the production of a majority of our sunglass, goggle, and helmet boxes and catalogs and other print materials. Smith purchases alternative-energy credits and uses energy generated in Idaho from wind- and hydropower. We do not use energy from coal power.

We donate hundreds of thousands of dollars of our product for fundraising and nonprofit purposes. We financially support local programs like Sun Valley Ski Ed Foundation, Blaine County Food Bank, Women's Shelter, Sun Valley Adaptive Sports, and national groups like the Outdoor Industry Association, International Mountain Bike Association, American Whitewater Association, dZi Foundation, and Right to Sight.

We make products for the outdoor-sports world and encourage our employees to get out and participate in these activities for a hands-on experience, working knowledge of products, healthy body, and positive overall outlook on life! It's not a typical company when the president comes over and eggs you into going skiing or your boss drags you out the door for a round of golf.

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