October 5th, 2011
01:50 PM GMT
Editor's note: Watch Frederik Pleitgen at Adidas headquarters during Marketplace Europe, on CNN International, October 20 at 18:45 GMT.
Herzogenaurach (CNN) – It is always good to see companies that live the philosophy they try to sell.
For German sports and clothing firm Adidas, that is an active, dynamic lifestyle. Enter the company's headquarters in Herzogenaurach, near Nuremburg in Bavaria, and the place looks more like a giant activity centre then an office complex for human resources and marketing departments.
There's a beach volleyball court, running tracks and even a soccer stadium that seats about 2000.
"We encourage our employees to be active during their working hours," a public relations representative told me as I got a tour of the place before interviewing Herbert Hainer, the company's CEO.
"The people need to get their work done," she said. "If they want to take a two hour break to play beach volleyball at noon, that is fine, and that is actually what will happen on any given day.”
Adidas staff have their own volleyball and football tournaments. Sometimes even the arch rival Puma, which is also based in Herzogenaurach, can get involved.
"Last year on World Peace Day, we had a tournament with the Puma guys," the folks at Adidas told me. When I asked who won they said it was mixed teams, with the CEOs of Adidas and Puma actually playing on the same side.
The entire Adidas headquarters thrives on the concepts of light, space and movement. The company recently opened a new flagship office building, called "laces," which symbolizes the laces of a sneaker and is supposed to show how the company is intertwined and can only thrive when all parts work together in synch. Here again, there is a lot of space and a lot of sunlight that penetrates the building and the offices.
Another way Adidas tries to promote corporate identity and a healthy lifestyle for its staff.
When the company from the small town of Herzogenaurach was growing too fast in the 1990s to keep expanding its corporate headquarters of the day, management had a choice to make: Move to a larger town like Nuremburg, Munich or even Berlin, or find something new in rural Germany. Adidas decided to stick with Herzogenaurach where the firm was founded. They acquired a former U.S. military base in the area and have since continuously expanded the premises.
Ask Herbert Hainer and he will tell you that this is far from complete. He points to some blue shipping container that used to house the marketing department. "We are in the process of taking those down, then we will set up more sports fields for the staff," he said.
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