Several years ago, FirstBank conducted this interview with founder, Curt Richardson. Since OtterBox is celebrating its 20th anniversary, we thought it was fitting to re-post this article. Congrats OtterBox on 20 years of success.

Innovation. Passion. Accountability.  Given OtterBox’s commitment to its core values — or “Ottertude,” as they like to call it — it’s easy to see how the Fort Collins-based company has become a dominant player in the global market for smartphone and tablet protective cases.

OtterBox got started in 1998 and is now a $2.5 billion-plus enterprise that produces the top-selling case for smartphones in the U.S. The company has also expanded rapidly overseas, with regional offices in Europe and the Asia-Pacific Rim, and growing operations around the globe.

Of course, OtterBox’s performance doesn’t stop at financial success. The company has been widely recognized for its employee satisfaction, community involvement and innovation, and was ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the top 100 “Most Promising Companies” in the nation.

To learn more about what makes this longtime FirstBank customer such a tour-de-force in the industry, I caught up with OtterBox founder Curt Richardson.

First off, explain the name to us. OtterBox is such a unique name for a company — where did it come from?

Curt: Similar to an otter’s fur, our first line was a waterproof box. That product benefit inspired my wife, Nancy Richardson, to create the name OtterBox.

What is the key to OtterBox’s success?

Curt: While product innovation,  manufacturing agility and other factors are critical to our business, our core values (innovation, accountability, passion) are truly the foundation for our success. They’ve guided our operational decisions and helped us navigate from a small company to a larger business. They’ve also played a central role in attracting talent and helping employees have a successful career at OtterBox. Adherence to our values is a central component of performance reviews, and we have a special program aimed at honoring employees who go above and beyond in exhibiting our values in their daily work.

OtterBox was ranked by Entrepreneur magazine as the “Best Medium Workplace” in the U.S. Why are people so satisfied working at OtterBox?

Curt: Well, for one, OtterBox headquarters is a fun place to work. Our headquarters has a spiral slide between floors, multiple coffee bars, an indoor bike storage facility, a fitness center and more. Our building is designed to inspire innovation and help the Otter culture thrive, and I think it accomplishes that goal.

That said, our building is only one element of life at OtterBox. We have the utmost faith in the people we hire and empower employees to make decisions daily that affect our bottom line. We also equip our employees with tools and education to perform at a consistently higher level by providing professional development opportunities and regular coaching sessions.

Otters work from the heart and live by the notion that what we do here matters — and that spirit translates into business results that we share.

What is the OtterCares Foundation and why is giving back such an important part of the company’s mission?

Curt: We’re big believers in the ripple effect, or the notion that one idea, one caring heart or one inspired mind can change the world.

The OtterCares Foundation was launched in 2010 to championeducation and inspire a movement of young entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Through partnerships, outreach, programs and advocacy we are helping to equip the leaders of tomorrow. Additionally, the foundation offers three unique grant programs for organizations in Larimer and Weld counties.

OtterCares is also our outlet for employee volunteerism. We encourage giving through one or more of the “Three Ts” — time, talent or treasure — and all full-time OtterBox employees receive 24 hours of paid time off per year specifically for volunteering. Many contribute their talents by providing skill-based services such as graphic design, accounting and computer training to nonprofits, and others donate by participating in fundraisers and collection drives.

Our vision is a world where every child grows up with the confidence, passion and knowledge to pursue life-changing ideas. With OtterCares, we are hopefully doing our part to make that dream a reality.

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