Sad to say, many corporate mission statements become little more than stagnant words in an annual report.
At Shake Shack, however, they are marching orders, guiding the quick-service eatery on a daily basis to provide not only excellence in food service but also strong connections to the communities in which it operates.
Marching orders. Or perhaps running orders, especially in light of Shack Track & Field, the company's in-house, after-hours crew of athletes.
Allan Ng, the Shake Shack Philadelphia Area Director, had the brainstorm in 2013 to strengthen ties with his restaurant team by planning a casual run. "I love to share my passions," he says. "I have a passion for our food. And for our people. And for running. So this became a way to unite all them: Let's go out for a three-to-five-mile run together. Let's just talk. We don't even have to talk about work; I just want to get to know you. We can bond about running and then just hang out and have a milkshake afterward."
Using a route that took them to East Fairmount Park and the Lemon Hill Mansion, the group grew. Once-monthly outings became twice-monthly. Shake Shack Miami copied the program. Then DC. Then New York, where a second team is now stepping off. "It's now overseas," Ng smiles. "Dubai is starting to do it."
Cyclists caught the vibe, and Shack Track & Field now includes bike rides. Teams expanded beyond the burger-baristas and milkshake-makers, and customers themselves joined in. Devoted fitness fans then combined cycling with running, biathlon-style.
When Shake Shack opened its location in King of Prussia last year, it was natural that its extracurricular exercisers gravitated toward Valley Forge National Historical Park. Shack Track & Field runners and cyclists - identifiable in their green logo-ed t-shirts - are easy to spot on its challenging trails and flat plateaus. "I love the park," Ng says. "When I run there, I think about what it was and really escape. I'm inspired. I mean, George Washington inspired troops in that area for so long. How do I look up to a leader like that and do the same thing here at Shake Shack?"
Like so many of his fellow athletes attracted to Valley Forge, Ng enjoys the chance to unplug. "I get to escape out of my mind for two hours. No cell phones. No nothing. It's just so beautiful. It's the hills and the variation of terrain and it's just absolutely great. And it's so clean, too. It's so well-maintained. And that's the beauty of it. You can just go run freely and not worry about looking left, looking right... I don't know why people don't take advantage of it more."
The involvement of Shack Track & Field in upholding the corporate responsibility to the local community has inspired the Shake Shack organization to become a first-time sponsor in the Ninth Annual Revolutionary 5-Mile Run® on April 27, 2014. Shake Shack is providing every runner with a water bottle as they triumphantly cross the finish line. Proceeds benefit part initiatives, meaning that the cleanliness and maintenance efforts that Ng appreciates will continue to make the park a sought-after destination for generations to come.
Ng would love to be included as a Rev Run runner (he does run competitively), but his role that day will be more feet-on-the-ground organizing. He's excited, though, to be participating as a sponsor, especially as it strengthens the Shake Shack ties to the area. "We try to really be part of the community," he says. "Our concretes, for example," he cites, referencing the dessert blend of chocolate custard, caramel sauce, cheesecake blondie, chocolate sprinkles and sea salt. "Our culinary director and I were just brainstorming. How do we find names and ways to have people think about our community? So instead of just calling it a chocolate swirl or something bland like that, we call it Valley Forge Freeze."
The Revolutionary Run depends heavily on corporate sponsorships, either monetary or in-kind donations. If your place of business would like to join the likes of past Rev Run supporters - including Lockheed Martin, PECO and the King of Prussia Mall - click here for more information.
The race has an early-morning start time on April 27. For an optimal viewing spot, you'll need to be in the park early, meaning you might want to snag a hotel room the night before. See our website for options. A desk manager will happily schedule your wake-up call.