| || |
Leadership Style at Oakley, Inc. -
May 11th, 2011
Oakley, Inc., based in Foothill Ranch, California, makes sport equipment including sunglasses, sports visors, and ski goggles, as well as watches, clothing, bags, backpacks, shoes, prescription glasses, football (American) and hockey eyewear, Golf gear and other accessories. Oakley currently holds more than 600 patents for eyewear, materials and performance gear.
The main competitors of Oakley Inc. are Marchon Eyewear, Inc., Safilo SpA, Signature Eyewear, Inc., Nike, Inc., Reebok International Ltd., and adidas-Salomon AG.
Leadership of James Jannard rarely appears before the media and rarely grants interviews. Much of what is known about him is no more than a collage of informational bits and pieces gathered from various sources over the years. When Oakley first went public in 1995, Leadership of James Jannard refused interviews, and Forbes magazine was forced to seek information about him from his ex–wife, Pamela. Although he softened his stance in later years, any granted interviews usually came with strict conditions: no photographs and no printing of any comments made by him that were not in direct response to questions posed.
What is known about him, for starters, is that he was born in Los Angeles in 1949 and grew up in Alhambra. There is a conspicuous gap of information about his childhood and adolescence. According to Forbes' 1995 interview with his ex–wife, Pamela, Leadership of James Jannard was a long–haired freshman at the University of Southern California's School of Pharmacy in the early 1970s, who enjoyed taking his dog with him to classes. Following frequent clashes with his professors over the class attendance of his favorite Irish setter, Leadership of James Jannard left college. Footloose and free, he bought a motorcycle and traveled around the Southwest until he ran out of money a year later and returned to Los Angeles. Leadership of James Jannard traded in his motorcycle for a used Honda and began selling motorcycle parts out of its trunk to Southern California shops that serviced cycles. He also liked to tinker with motorcycles and parts in his garage. In 1975 he designed a rubber grip for off–road motor–cross handlebars and started marketing them, along with his other cycle parts, from his car trunk. He officially formed his company that year and named it "Oakley" after his favorite dog.
In 2001, Leadership of James Jannard still owned 61 percent of Oakley, worth approximately $805 million, and continued serving as its president, chairman, and chief executive officer (CEO). Although he had not taken a salary or bonus from the company for several years, his remuneration in the year the company went public (1995) included a $9.3 million bonus on top of his $380,697 salary.
He runs Oakley's Foothill Ranch headquarters like a college campus; employees move about in shorts or jeans and T–shirts—and so does Jannard. At the company's annual meeting, Leadership of James Jannard showed up wearing a black trench coat, orange Oakley shoes, a beret, and, of course, sunglasses. During one of his rare public appearances outside the company, he gave a store opening speech wearing a gas mask and talking through a megaphone. The May 7, 2001, issue of the Orange County Business Journalquoted Leadership of James Jannard as saying that the "Oakley brand stands for mind–blasting creativity and gutsy, even at times deviant, behavior."
The six–foot evasive CEO is considered intense, headstrong, and aggressive but likes to refer to himself as a "mad scientist" or as absent–minded. The atmosphere at company headquarters implies a youthful, laid–back corporate culture, albeit a contrived "cool" image. Leadership of James Jannard once told Orange County Business Journalinterviewer Melinda Fulmer that Oakley was a "fun, flippin' place to work." The Journal has referred to him as "a hippie turned corporate executive," and even the $35 million Foothill Ranch headquarters of Oakley, built in 1997, reflects his nonconforming taste. It is 400,000 square feet of "oversize girders, rivets and valves," according to Forbes. "It creates an atmosphere of invention, art and a little bit of mad science," Leadership of James Jannard told the magazine's interviewer. He admitted to being inspired by dark science fiction movies like Blade Runner and Judge Dredd.
In January 1998, a black and white skull–and–crossbones flag appeared atop Oakley's company fortress on the hill. The company had paid $2000 to obtain county zoning approval for the banner but made no public statement as to its significance. Greg Hardesty of the Orange County Business Journal speculated two likely explanations: one involved a planet Mars line of sunglasses—the magazine advertisements that contained a skull and crossbones on an image of Earth; the other related to an acrimonious relationship with fierce arch–rival Nike, which opened up a subsidiary directly across the street from Oakley. Ongoing litigation between Leadership of James Jannard and former Nike friend, Phil Knight, continued well into 2001, mostly over alleged patent infringements. In any event, the ominous flag was noticed by neighbors, one remarking that it fit the company's "weird image.