The Burton Blog

Perks on Perks: Our Take on Touring CLIF Bar

In the competitively packed market of energy bar brands,  CLIF Bar catches our attention. In the age of social-everything, content-everywhere, and ever-growing choices for consumers, you have to know what you’re doing, and why. It's interesting to watch the dynamic play itself out in an endless scroll of stories of corporate citizenship and ethical achievements. It’s powerful, when it’s authentic, and you can't fake it. 

How does the saying go? Real recognizes real. 

CLIF Bar’s product is unique: Unlike most of their competitors — who are not sourcing much, if any organic ingredients — all of their products are non-GMO, where they’ve been seriously committed since day one. Their approach to business is equally distinct: Rather than one bottom line, CLIF Bar has five, and decisions are based on an evaluation of their impact to the business, brand, people, community and planet. The company’s five aspirations serve as much more than a page on a website or a mural on their wall. This ethos is woven into the company culture, corporate strategy, and architectural design of their headquarters. 

So CLIF Bar's product is healthy, but so is their energy and the lifestyle they promote. And we get it. When we're looking for brand's to partner with, it's those common principles we're seeking. In short, we're on the same page.

Clif Bar is a fully functional family business and ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Primary owner and founder Gary Erickson learned how to bake from his grandmother. Now, the on-site café is managed by his nephew. It’s all like extended family, and clearly they’re all in it together
There are many art installations at the CLIF Bar office, and all are made from recycled materials.
In order to keep costs to employees down, Clif Bar covers the overhead of café operations and staff and the employees merely pay the food costs.

We share a sense of creativity about the mission, too. When you walk in the LEED Platinum certified building CLIF Bar calls home, you encounter the front desk backed by tastefully upcycled shipping containers. Up above, the entire ceiling is lined with panels made from recycled blue jeans — returned in a second life as sound dampeners — and just around the bend is a staircase creatively constructed from an old baseball stadium bleacher. As you walk through the open floor plan you notice only six private offices amidst the open newsroom style layout, outnumbered by art installations implying the brand’s values. The whole big, open, airy office is lined with healthy green plants that get plenty of sunlight.

As for CLIF Bar’s commitment to sustaining their employees, HQ houses an on-site gym, locker rooms with laundry, fitness classes, dance rooms, full-time staff trainers, a masseuse, a hair salon, and the CLIF Base Camp day care center. As guests, the highlight was probably the café, where deliciously crafted and sustainably sourced plates are offered to employees affordably. As an employee, it’d be hard to beat the month-long (or more) sabbatical offered every seven years. We know all too well how flexibility and generous PTO is just about the greatest perk a job can offer.  

Fun fact: Over the years, the company has helped many of their employees transition to high-mileage hybrid cards or alternative fuel vehicles along with a myriad of incentives for getting to work by bike, on foot, with public transit or carpooling.
An active member of BICEP, they are a vocal advocate for progressive climate and energy legislation.
The five aspirations of CLIF Bar.
This ethos is woven into the company culture, corporate strategy, and architectural design of their headquarters.

For us at Burton, it’s fun to partner with like-minded brands, and we share more than a few things with CLIF Bar. Our common mindset of a multi-pronged bottom line where culture and social impact matter just as much as margins is a freedom of choice afforded by private ownership. There are decisions we can make for the long-term health of our brands, and our social and environmental missions, because our numbers aren’t scrutinized by shareholders.

More obviously, our cultures emphasize healthy, outdoor, active lifestyles. And while we didn’t ask them much about their social scene, we’d bet a similar thing happens: When you get this many people with shared beliefs and values working toward the same mission, “family business” means more than your executive leaders sharing a surname. As an employee, you’re living what you love with a bunch of other people that feel the same way—enthusiasm and ownership comes easy.

Another reason to love CLIF Bar: Since 2001, employees have donated more than 60,000 collective hours of community service.

We’re excited to be joined by CLIF Bar at the Burton US Open in Vail, Colorado next week. Make sure you stop by their tent to get a turn in the GIF Photo Booth (framing you smack dab in the middle of the USO action), with the potential to win CLIF Bar and Burton prizes, too. There will also be a chance for competing athletes to win a $10,000 cash purse in the Raise the Bar Awards; a POW/CLIF Bar ride-along led by some top-knotch athletes; and a LOT of free samples. ∆