The Fine Line between Business and Fun
Will Smith III
Enscicon (#300 on the 2000 Inc. 500 list)
Three years ago, when Hunter Smith was only 10, he started donning a suit and accompanying his father, Enscicon CEO Will Smith III, to the office. Sometimes he'd man the stapler or hang out with the teenagers -- other employees' kids -- who were covering the phones for the day. Other times he'd sit in on board meetings or travel with his dad to the Denver-based company's remote offices, in Phoenix and Austin. "People have this myth that they have three different lives -- a work life, a home life, and a social life," says the elder Smith. "But we have only one life. And companies make the mistake of not integrating families into the work community so that they understand the stresses and can lend support."
Smith has been careful not to be so shortsighted in running Enscicon, a $12 million IT and engineering consultancy, which he launched six years ago. At the time he was a 27-year-old single father with full-time custody of his son. Putting his philosophy into practice, Smith takes his 30 corporate staffers and their spouses on a five-day houseboat excursion on Lake Powell in Utah every other year. He welcomes children in the workplace and endorses flextime. And perhaps most important, he encourages his employees to work out at a local gym by offering a 90-minute lunch hour and paying not just the workers' initiation fees but also half their dues -- if they stick with the exercise program for a year. "At any given lunch hour, about a third of the corporate staff will work out together," says Smith, who has been lifting weights and doing aerobics for 10 years. "It alleviates stress and builds capacity."
It also builds camaraderie. Nobody in the company works fewer than 50 hours a week, and Smith puts in a good 60 to 70 hours himself. Yet he believes that the emphasis on socializing, during trips and especially during workouts, helps narrow the divide between life and work. "It creates an atmosphere that says, 'Yes, we're working together, but we're also having fun," says Smith. "'Live, love, laugh, and have the time of our lives' -- those words are part of our mission statement."
Copyright © 2000 G+J USA Publishing