Supplied photo courtesy of Castle Branch
Staff members of Castle Branch surfed and paddled together on Wrightsville Beach every morning for two weeks using their own gear and rentals provided by the company.
Turning work relationships into deeper bonds and encouraging its employees to take advantage of the natural resources around Wrightsville Beach were the main ideas behind Castle Branch’s two-week standup paddleboard and surf series this summer.
Mike Kenney, Castle Branch Vice President of sales, thought of the initiative while surfing at Kure Beach one day with another surfer who was on his 112th consecutive day of surfing. Abbreviating the streak to two weeks, Kenney said the first few company outings only consisted of employees who had their own surf or SUP equipment but that it quickly grew to a larger crowd when Castle Branch offered to pay for any employee’s rentals.
“The president of the company and CEO loved it and within a week in they realized how much interest there was in the company,” Kenney said. “They really threw their weight behind it and said whoever wants to do it can and we will pay for the rentals.”
Every day for two weeks at 6 a.m., Kenney said members of the Castle Branch executive staff and employees would take to the water in Wrightsville Beach to surf or SUP depending on the ocean conditions. Along with introducing people to the sports, Kenney said the activity also introduced another level of camaraderie in the office.
“We are very segmented by departments, like most organizations are, and there is often not a lot of time for staff to intermingle within and outside of work,” he said. “With something like this, you get to meet your coworkers and get to know them on a very different level because there are no titles out there.”
With the newfound sense of interoffice communication and relationships, Kenney said the Castle Branch leadership has embraced the surf culture of Wrightsville Beach and hopes to continue to market that amenity to future prospective employees.
“That a company can get behind and encourage taking advantage of the surf culture that is in our area is fantastic,” he said. “I think it does a lot for our employees — how interesting and exciting is it to work for a company that does this kind of thing for the staff?”
While the reputation of surf culture may not be synonymous with productivity, Kenney said the exercise and activity has increased the productivity of those employees in the office.
“You could ask if this is actually hurting productivity because you now have 20 people coming into the office at 8 a.m. with sand on their feet, salt in their hair and telling all of their coworkers how much fun they had out there,” Kenney said. “But the bigger picture there is that it is productive because you get people engaging with their coworkers and being part of an organization that creates a level of motivation.”
Although the SUP and surf series is over, Kenney said meet ups are still happening every Friday and that a group of employees is training every Monday and Wednesday for a couple of the local 5ks and mud runs.