Cirrus Logic makes workers’ families part of the team


Jeff Alderson was already a 12-year chip industry veteran when he started working at Cirrus Logic five years ago.

Having worked at three other semiconductor companies, he thought he knew the drill.

“Chip companies can be kind of sterile places to work at sometimes,” Alderson said. “People can close their office doors and work at hard problems. They don’t want to interact with other people and engineers’ social skills aren’t really very high.”

But his thinking changed after he joined Cirrus. He noticed that employees ate lunch together, socialized together, even played cards together.

“The social aspect of people getting together and doing things is very different here,” said Alderson, who now leads a design team at the company. “That makes it a more fun place to work than other places I’ve been. And the quality of work done here is really good. I have worked on hard problems with a really good team.”

Cirrus makes specialized low-power chips, many of which are incorporated into smartphones, tablets and other portable devices. The company has rebuilt its business over the past seven years or so and part of revamping the company has included an effort to create a fun workplace that would help recruit and retain skilled employees.

The company, which employs about 650 in Austin, ranks second among large employers on the American-Statesman’s Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project.

“We wanted people to be proud of where they worked,” said CEO Jason Rhode, who helped push efforts to make work fun and to have include employees’ families in the celebration of its successes.

The company has three holiday parties a year and two of them are aimed at kids, complete with a “Santa Claus” and age-appropriate gifts.

“You get your Santa pictures done right there and you don’t have to schlep to the mall,” said Tom Strandwitz, an information technology program director at the company who has three sons aged seven to 12. “All of them are Cirrus kids. They know Jo-Dee Benson” and her staff.

Benson, among her other duties, is the company’s designated chief culture officer. One of her hobbies is knitting a personal cap for each baby born to a Cirrus family.

Cirrus has other special events, including Boo at the Zoo, a summer picnic at Schlitterbahn, a “Kids Club” that encourages employees children to so summer reading and even date nights, where the company coordinates couples activities including movies, cooking classes and trips to Esther’s Follies. The company also serves free ice cream to families that show up at work during the summer.

“Some kids don’t even know where their dads work,” Alderson said. “My kids know where I work and they like the company. They always want to come here in the summer and have free ice cream.”

Many of Cirrus’ family events are extensively planned, down to small details.

But some things are impromptu. One Valentine’s Day, Benson backed a spur-of-the moment effort to bring flowers and cards and other small gifts that workers could take home to their spouses.

It was called the Valentines Day Bailout and it has become a yearly event at the company.

Tom Strandwitz didn’t forget Valentines Day that year, but he told his wife Becky about the company effort that helped other workers.

“I was just blown away,” Becky Strandwitz said. “A lot of the things Cirrus does don’t necessarily benefit our family, but I think what they do is so incredibly delightful and cool.”

She appreciates the attention to detail that the company shows at family events, such as age-appropriate gifts at the Christmas party.

“It absolutely counts that the company cares,” she said. “I don’t think there is another company that does these kinds of things. It’s been a very special part of our lives and it really hooks you into the company from a family standpoint.”

Alderson says the company’s family events give his family and his wife a sense of connection to the company and the people he works with. “Families are a part of the larger team at Cirrus.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Austin couple sues homeowners group over condo sale
Austin couple sues homeowners group over condo sale

A couple who owned four units in the Villas on Town Lake is suing over the recent sale of the 1980s condominium project, saying they have yet to be paid $1.9 million they are owed. Kevin Green and his wife, Amy Edwards, filed the lawsuit in state district court in Travis County against the Villas on Town Lake homeowners’ association and individual...
Asking price slashed for ghost town once known as Bikinis, Texas
Asking price slashed for ghost town once known as Bikinis, Texas

The price has been slashed on a former Central Texas ghost town listed for sale earlier this year. Bankersmith – which was briefly known as Bikinis, Texas, after it was acquired by an Austin-based “breastaurant” chain – initially went on the market in January for $1.5 million. Eight months later, with no apparent takers, the...
Trump tweets he knows CEOs to replace the 'grandstanders' who resigned from council
Trump tweets he knows CEOs to replace the 'grandstanders' who resigned from council

In a tweet Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said he has other chief executives ready to succeed the "grandstanders" who stepped down from his manufacturing council in the aftermath of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. "For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place...
New owner for 2 downtown Austin hotels
New owner for 2 downtown Austin hotels

Two downtown Austin hotels have changed hands. The 134-room Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown – University and the 171-room Holiday Inn Express Austin Downtown University, which share a building at East Eighth and Red River streets, have been acquired by Nimes Real Estate, a Los Angeles-based firm with a regional headquarters in Austin. Holliday Fenoglio...
Snap Kitchen laying off 150-plus workers in Austin, Houston
Snap Kitchen laying off 150-plus workers in Austin, Houston

More than 150 Snap Kitchen employees in Austin and Houston will soon see their jobs eliminated as work shifts to a new facility in North Texas. The changes won’t result in any store closures, company officials said Monday. In a letter to the Texas Workforce Commission, Snap Kitchen said 65 Austin employees – 42 working at 4616 Triangle...
More Stories