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On-the-job fun facilitates hard work at Chicago company

Work play: Employee Red Frog take break from work enjoy game foosball.  |  Matthew Schwerh~ For Sun-Times Media

Work and play: Employee of Red Frog take a break from work to enjoy a game of foosball. | Matthew Schwerha ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Red Frog Events

Founded in 2007, Red Frog Events has seen exponential growth over the last five years under the tutelage of co-founders Joe Reynolds (Architect of Adventure) and Ryan Kunkel (Master of Money Business).

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Updated: October 9, 2012 4:30PM

Most Americans consider their profession a means to an end. Hard work and success provide them and their families the opportunity to do more glamorous things once the work day is completed.

But, what if work was so much fun that you didn’t long to leave?

That’s the case at Red Frog Events in downtown Chicago where a bar, a foosball table, a tree house, and unlimited vacation days have people lining up to go to work.

“We’ve created an environment that looks fun,” said Sarah Neukom, the Producer of Positivity at Red Frog, where each full-time employee is allowed to give themselves their own title. “It gives people the opportunity to work really hard and be able to step away from things to take a break to play a game of foosball or have a beer in the afternoon and just unwind for a second, then tackle it all again.”

Red Frog is a leader in the active entertainment industry and puts on events such as Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race, Beach Dash and Firefly Music Festival all around the world despite having a singular office in Chicago. Most of their events have some sort of group aspect, a physical activity and a party at the end that includes food and beer.

The variety of locations of events allows Red Frog employees to see all parts of the globe while on the clock.

“I’ve been to Australia, Germany, Portland, Austin, Miami, Virginia, Georgia, Iowa and am going to Vancouver,” said Munirah McNeely, Maestro of Madness – or in layman’s terms – Director of Operations for Warrior Dash at Red Frog. “We just went to Dover [Delaware] to see Firefly. We’ve also been to LA and San Diego.”

Neukom is no stranger to travel either.

“I’ve been to D.C., Portland, Iowa, Virginia, and soon New York,” Neukom said. “That’s just since May.”

Taking advantage of her unlimited vacation days, Neukom took an extra week to herself to further explore Australia. She said all of the benefits offered by Red Frog are not exploited because employees are busy working hard at this coveted workplace, which receives an average of 2,000 resumes a month.

“There’s been a bad egg or two here and there but it’s so minimal for the people who have worked here it’s crazy,” Neukom said. “People appreciate what they’re getting. They appreciate that they can have a beer, and for that reason they don’t take advantage of it.”

Even in an office that features such fun as a zipline – which can only be used after 5 p.m. at the request of neighbors because of its noisiness – there is a lot of hard work that has to get done.

Both Neukom, 29, and McNeely, 26, are accustomed to working 10 hours plus a day, a work style fit for a younger demographic, which explains Red Frog having only a handful of employees over the age of 30.

“My mom actually works here,” Neukom said, referring to Kathy Neukom, the Officer of Optimism. “She’s our office manager and she’s 62. She brought up our average age a little bit. There’s nobody really between 62 and 30.”

Red Frog held the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Del. for the first time in July 2012. Their latest installment, Farm to Fork, is set to be unveiled later this year on a farm in Naperville that will allow participants the chance to learn about the intricacies of what it takes to bring a meal to a plate.

Despite Red Frog growing as a company and its employees getting older, McNeely doesn’t see the fun atmosphere changing much in the future.

“I can’t imagine much would change,” McNeely said. “The only thing would be there would be more weddings every summer and there would be more babies popping up.”

Follow Matthew Schwerha on Twitter @MatthewSchwerha

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