by By Sarah J.F. Braley and Michael C. Lowe | April 01, 2013
SPEAR ONEValentine's day at Spear One
On Friday afternoons when the weather is warm, the staff of Spear One can be found on the patio outside their offices, enjoying a Dr Pepper Happy Hour. This is just one way the Irving, Texas-based firm, which specializes in developing and administering incentive programs, as well as meetings and events, practices what it preaches, making sure the 30 employees are interacting and keeping ideas flowing between them.

There's lots more fun to be had throughout the year at Spear One, facilitated by the Culture Committee. One favorite this year was the pre-Super Bowl chili cook-off. But it gets even wackier, such as "Salad Dressing Day," where employees came to work "dressed" as their favorite dressing. (One employee came as a cowboy to represent ranch dressing, another wore a toga for Italian dressing.) And on "Spirit Day," everyone is encouraged to wear their college colors to work.
Ice cream truck visits spear one
Among other efforts to bring smiles to the office, during an entire Groundhog Day, the classic Bill Murray movie played continuously in the company's colorful break room, where many of these events are held. The relaxing space is stocked with free snacks, sodas and a Keurig coffee maker. On a chalkboard, staff are invited to answer a weekly question, such as "What was your favorite school supply?"

Overseeing this light-hearted roster of perks is president Mike May, whose own warm personality is evident in the firm's policies. "It's a personal commitment of his, to enjoy working with every single employee," says Theresa Allen, Spear One's creative director.
"I think that what people see in me is somebody who is personable and caring," says May. "You hear about the open-door policy all the time, but people see that side of me." But May is quick to credit vice president Rudy Garza, who came to the company from Frito-Lay two years ago, for instituting the Culture Committee to foster a more cohesive office environment.

"One of the things we tout as our differentiators in the marketplace is our creativity," says Allen. "Allowing us to exercise that at the office every day strengthens our ability to give new ideas to the client."

Spear One's staff also gets to play together outside the office once a quarter, whether it's bowling, laser tag or competing at Top Golf, a specialty driving range. "The fact that our president is willing to take us away from our work space during the workday and concentrate on our relationships is unheard of in anything else I've done," says Allen.
Importantly, recognition is bestowed throughout the year. "Our workloads can fluctuate dramatically, so we have to find creative ways to respond quickly," says May. "That usually means helping out a colleague." To reward people for going the extra mile, employees can win a monthly SOOP (Spear One Outstanding Performance) award, which includes use of a coveted covered parking spot for a month and a free lunch.

May also believes in continuing education and helping his staff improve their expertise. Classes have been developed internally in areas such as channel marketing, tax rules for incentive marketing, F&B trends, how best to source a transportation company and group air-travel rules.

"We have many people who started at an entry-level position out of college, and they can look around and see a career path," says May.

Read about last year's best places to work here.