Nautilus ceo Bruce Cazenave disguised as Batman.


GETTING FRIGHT RIGHT: Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Under Armour are the dominant brands with legions of sponsored sports teams. But in the lead-up to Halloween, Nautilus harvests a different kind of team building.

For two hours on Friday, more than 320 children and 205 adult visitors streamed through the company’s Halloweenland in its Vancouver headquarters — a maze like experience all made by Nautilus’ nearly 400 staffers. A month ago, 10 departments decided on themes and started drafting plans and building sets for their ideas.

Partial to superhero costumes, Nautilus chief executive officer Bruce Cazenave greeted trick-or-treaters Friday wearing a Batman costume. Shortly before staffers’ children (and more than a few of their friends) started lining up outside of the main entrance, Cazenave decided to make the most of the cherry picker that was nearby being used for some exterior construction. John Fread, director of global marketing and communications, said Monday, “The kids were lining up and the next thing we knew Bruce was getting a crash course to learn how to drive the cherry picker.

While the corporate tradition started 10 years ago, Cazenave embraced it with gusto after joining Nautilus five years ago. In fact, he is prone to keep wearing his costume after the holiday has passed. Fread said, “How many ceo’s in this day and age get into their employees’ kids like this? The guy knows virtually every employee by name and I dare say he knew their kids’ names, too. We do a lot of corporate culture events but this one is by far the biggest.”

The engineering department went with a “Wild Cargo” jungle experience complete with lunging staffers dressed in gorilla costumes. The under 12 set didn’t know it but the theme winked at Nautilus Inc. founder Arthur Jones, who was “kind of a quirky dude who was into exotic animals and had his own zoo,” Fread said. The IT team decided on Pirates building a treasure chest and ship illuminated with lighting that looked like crashing waves. “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” “Dr. Seuss,” “Inside Out” and “Turtles Inc.” were some of the other themes. Turning an office with many cubicles and furniture-laden conference rooms into what is essentially a makeshift theme park requires substantial planning. “Each department was working nights and coming in on weekends to build all the sets, figure out the lighting and smoke machines, and move furniture,” Fread said. “The day of the event and the afternoon before things in the office obviously grind to a halt. But the cool thing about this and the reason we keep doing it is it give employees the opportunity to do integrative team building.”

Nautilus’ nontraditional team building may be paying off since 2015 saves jumped 22.3 percent to $335.8 million. Fread said, “The biggest thing that comes out of this is the camaraderie. It’s not just a handful of people pulling this off each year. Everyone really gets into it.”

To avoid any bottlenecking, staffers led groups of eight to 10 costumed children through the experience. “There was not tons and tons of candy being handed out, being a health and fitness company,” Fread said.

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