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They’re having fun at Hamilton Building Supply

I opened Instagram over the past weekend and knew I had to write a column about the first two posts I saw. The first, from a national business magazine, lamented the revenue that was lost from businesses across the country because of employees taking part in March Mad- ness brackets. The second post, from Hamilton Building Supply in New Jersey, was a photo of their company-made March Madness Manufacturer Tournament.

At Hamilton, John Perna’s team completed brackets not for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but for brands that the company carries. As an example, a decking company squared off against a kitchen cabinet manufacturer for a chance to advance to the next round. Some of the brands received up to 200 votes to move on. Sounds fun, right? But is it a loss of productivity? Possibly. The question I had for John was where he ranked the two values—fun and profitability.

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Here’s what John had to say: “We’re not consumed by the tournament, but it does offer some much-needed levity in our LBM industry that can be so stodgy and serious too often. The manufacturer tournament that we came up with was a home run among our employees, vendor partners, and our customers, because we put our own spin on a big social event, and everyone has a vote and a chance to participate.”

I’m sure that at some companies there is productivity lost, as an estimated 2.5 million people tune in per day to watch the tournament from work, but it’s hard to quantify. According to one report, U.S. workers spent something to the tune of 8.4 million hours watching NCAA tournament games during the workday.

At Hamilton Building Products, John said the engagement of employees far outweighs any distractions they may get caught up in through either a March Madness or Manufacturer Tournament.

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“I’ve read enough business psych texts that theorize people are generally motivated, productive, and effective when their serotonin and adrenaline levels are naturally running higher to produce positive energy,” John said. “Trust me, tournament or not, we don’t lose sight of keeping our customers happy and being super detailed and delivering great service. Keeping employees focused and taking care of business so that we are productive and growing mistake- free is still critically important and something that we emphasize to our team daily. In the end though companies need balance. We’re all humans and we need to have a little bit of fun here and there too.”

“Over the past few years our revenue and productivity has grown tremendously, so when you’re having as much fun as we are, why stop now?” John said.

— James Anderson

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