“Brands we work with range from the big names that everyone knows, like Mountain Dew and Amazon, to small startups,” he explains, ticking off names like Harley-Davidson, Ford, Taco Bell and Gillette as he mentally runs through the company’s 20-year history.
Their first client? Vermont-based snowboarding behemoth Burton.Sawabini — who started as an intern — is now a partner alongside Bill Carter and Brett Smith at Fuse, a marketing-services agency that helps brands connect with young adults in creative ways, offering everything from help managing athlete sponsorships to building out full-scale advertising campaigns. But forget the company’s impressive scope of work for a moment; it’s their headquarters that really get people talking. Situated on the shores of Lake Champlain — and just a hop, skip and a jump from some of the best paddleboarding, mountain biking and skiing on the East Coast — Fuse is continually named one of the best places to work among a myriad of publications like Vermont Business Magazine and Outside. If their clients are high energy, they have the offices to match: an open floor plan with melon-colored half walls encases a staff of about 50 employees (and a small herd of dogs).
There’s a mini skate ramp, fitness equipment, Ping-Pong tables and a basketball hoop where “many games of PIG are played,” says Sawabini. During lunch, employees can take a yoga class or schedule a chair massage. There’s unlimited free coffee and a steady influx of homemade snacks at the ready, but if you’re hungry for something different, you can always borrow a loaner bicycle to pedal into town.“One of the most-used benefits is probably the loaner paddleboard we have,” says Sawabini. “Especially for employees who don’t have the room to store their own at home.” But beyond the obvious perks inside the walls of Fuse are the ones just outside. Sawabini says team mountain bike rides happen regularly, and everyone abides by the company’s “12-inch rule”: Employees get a free pass to come in late so they can go skiing and take advantage of the fresh powder (which is easy, since everyone is gifted a season pass to the local resort). There’s more traditional flex time built in, of course, like half days on summer Fridays, but Sawabini says employees can also earn comp time for working at events during the weekends or volunteering — something the company has built an entire committee around.
“We do everything from trail building to volunteering in food banks, and we also have mentors at a youth center,” he explains. “We run a one-day adventure race for charity in conjunction with United Way and participate in Green Up Day in Vermont, where we go out as a company and clean up around the town.”“It’s our 20th year in business,” says Sawabini. “And since day one, the office has been really cool. We try hard to create a culture where our everyone’s excited to come into work every day.”
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