Valparaiso, Ind.-based Family Express is celebrating the opening of its new corporate headquarters. The 30,0000-square-foot facility not only features offices and a fitness center, but combines its Valparaiso, Ind., and Lafayette Ind., training centers into one cyber training center, including a fully-merchandised Family Express store, built to scale with equipment and gas pumps. The new headquarters opened its doors to employees at the end of September, after the company broke ground on the project some five months before on the 30-acre campus that has long housed its distribution center and central bakery.
The learning center’s mock Family Express store will not be open to the public, but will be used by the human resources department for training, and by the marketing department for strategic planning initiatives.
Focused on Training
The learning facility ties into the chain’s concept as “the living brand,” where employees serve as live ambassadors for the Family Express brand.
“Training and cultural engagement are an integral part of how we go to market,” said Gus Olympidis, president and CEO of Family Express, which operates 52 upscale c-stores in northwest and north central Indiana. “Consequently, distance becomes a hurdle to further development for the growth of Family Express unless we find ways to circumvent its adverse effects, and this new facility has given us a way to substantially neutralize the effects of distance.”
The new learning center is intended to serve both new and existing staff. By virtually connecting with individual stores it eliminates distance from the learning equation—allowing employees to develop the skills they need without having to travel for training, Olympidis said. “We are visually connected now with all of our stores and can combine as many as 16 stores into a single teleconference, and we can overlay spread sheets and video onto the screen, so we’re able to connect without moving people,” he added.
The new complex also features a corporate fitness center, tying into the company’s emphasis on wellness. In fact, Family Express has long offered to subsidize a fitness center investment for any of its employees, anywhere. “Fitness is a strategic objective to our company, as we believe it should be for any company,” Olympidis said. “In these uncertain economic times it is hard to imagine an organization that is not focused on the wellness of its workforce. The wellness center was organized as an expression of commitment to our employees as it relates to their wellness—it’s a way for Family Express to walk the talk.”
The new facility also features a wide array of art, some of which was commissioned specifically for the new headquarters, to further cultivate an atmosphere of innovation and creativity. The central bakery and distribution center are visited regularly by community schools and a number of other institutions. The headquarters, including the learning facility, will become part of the tour after the new building is formally unveiled to the market on Nov. 4. “As you can imagine there is extraordinary curiosity in our community about this facility and about what it is we do here,” Olympidis said.