Magazine article Workforce

Blending a Successful Workforce

Magazine article Workforce

Blending a Successful Workforce

Article excerpt

In the come-and-go food industry, Jamba Juice has found strong recruitment and retention strategies that can squeeze out winners -from a dry labor pool.

Bob Andrews can't make it through the day without a Protein Berry Pizazz, one of his favorite smoothies created by San Franciscobased Jamba Juice. As director of human resources, Andrews says he's never worked so hard in his life. Nor has he had so much fun. "If the fun were to go away, I'd know it was time for me to go," he says.

Jamba Juice, this year's Optimas Winner for Competitive Advantage, is a leading retail purveyor of blended-toorder smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, healthy soups, and breads. Even the company's name shouts, "Have a good time";jamba is a West African word that means "celebration." Visit its Web site ( and you'll encounter an array of oranges, strawberries, celery, and bananas swirling across the computer screen like a tornado.

Founded in April 1990 by CEO Kirk Perron, the store first opened as Juice Club in San Luis Obispo. By 1993, Juice Club had opened two additional stores. And by 1994, it had nearly quadrupled its size, with 11 stores in operation.

In July 1995, the company relocated its home office to San Francisco and introduced its new store concept, Jamba Juice. Today, there are approximately 300 stores in 15 states. Most are located in the western region of the United States, including Hawaii.

With 4,000 employees, mostly parttime "team members," Jamba Juice is growing faster than customers can say Kiwi-Berry-Burner.

"We're a high-growth company, and the competition is fierce," says Chris Baer, vice president of human resources. "HR's main challenge is people-finding and keeping them." That's no small feat in the smoothie market, estimated to be a $400 million industry.

Two years ago, Jamba Juice ranked number 38 on Inc.'s 1998 list of 500 entrepreneurial superstars. Moreover, some business analysts believe that the smoothie market may replicate the growth of specialty coffees witnessed in the early 1990s.

Given those hopeful predictions, Jamba Juice achieves its competitive advantage through a well-shaken formula. Human resources attracts candidates by marketing its popular food line, slush-fun culture, aggressive recruiting strateties. and entrenreneurial opportunities for its proteinboosted managers.

The company's values are further articulated in the acronym FIBER, which promotes fun, integrity, balance, empowerment, and respect.

Marketing health, energy, and fun.

What's a smoothie anyway? With names as perky as Razzmatazz and Mind Over Blueberry, the 24-ounce drinks made with fruit, ice, yogurt or sorbet, juices, and nutritious supplements called boosts are served by part-time "team members ----- -mostly high school and college-age students. Jamba Juice promotes these "meals" as refreshing alternatives to greasy burgers and fries.

Among health-conscious baby boomers and Gen-Xers, the word is getting out. Last year, for example, the company was featured in several national publications about the smoothie craze, including The Wall Street Journal, Pac@flc Business News, Menu Masters, Restaurant Business, and Entrepreneur magazines.

In one article, a Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst was quoted as saying that smoothies and juices drinks tap into "a healthy living concept" in which aging baby boomers seek the "Ponce de Leon effect."

But Baer says that Jamba Juice customers come in all shapes and sizes, even physically fit toddlers.

In other efforts to market its brand and culture, CEO Perron often appears at high-profile events. In January, he joined the festivities at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, blending smoothies for the likes of Hollywood celebs Courtney Cox, Kevin Spacey, and John Singleton.

Another way that Jamba Juice promotes its product and culture is through a campaign called "Jamba Wellennium. …

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