For most, the claim of a business owner buying a giraffe as a sales reward would seem like a tall tale, at best. But for LeafFilter employees, it’s just another day in the office. And it’s all because, a little over two years ago, the team decided to set their sights on a then-impossible goal, and swiftly proceed to crush it. What started as a joke around the office – the boss is going to buy a giraffe if we hit our goal and he doesn’t seem to be kidding – turned into something much more.
You see, the passion of the team extends further than simply accomplishing sales goals. The LeafFilter Family is also passionate about making the world a better place. So, after the initial excitement of being rewarded with a real-live giraffe wore off (as if that’s even possible), the team set their sights on a cause they grew to care deeply about – giraffe conservation.
According to Shannon Morarity, the Assistant Curator of the Heart of Africa at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the giraffe population has decreased by over 40% in the last 30 years – that’s over 10% a year! Once the team began to realize what an impact they could have on the conservation of this beautiful species, there was no stopping them.
As a constant reminder of their goal, the team created artwork to display throughout the office with a common theme – giraffes. Their passion spread throughout the office, and soon the entire corporate headquarters was motivated to make a difference.
Matt Kaulig, owner and CEO of LeafFilter, decided that “simply” buying a giraffe wasn’t enough. Working with a local news crew, the 2017 EY Entrepreneur of the Year donated an all-expenses-paid African safari trip, for which raffle tickets were sold throughout Northeast Ohio. Altogether, the sale of these raffle tickets generated a total of $7,000 to donate to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team, and their drive to make positive change in the world,” Kaulig says. “They not only crushed a near-impossible goal, but they turned it into something so much more rewarding. This whole experience has been surreal. Thinking back to when I started this company in 2005, I never would have believed it at the time if I had been told that someday I’d buy a giraffe as a reward for a stretch goal.”
In celebration of not only meeting their sales goals, but also their successful conservation efforts, the LeafFilter Family gathered at the Columbus Zoo on Sunday, May 20, 2018. During a banquet, the team also got to welcome the newest (and tallest!) member of their team – Digi, the giraffe. Columbus Zoo workers spent time with the LeafFilter team at the event to show everyone where Digi will live within the Columbus Zoo, further educate them about giraffes and their habits, and explain that Digi may even go on to have baby giraffes. The event culminated in a giraffe encounter, where the team was allowed to feed the giraffes on exhibit lettuce leaves provided by the Zoo.
“We’re excited to introduce a new giraffe to the Columbus Zoo’s already-huge exhibit!” says Kaulig. “We can already tell Digi is going to fit right in here. Even better, she serves as a source of inspiration for us at LeafFilter, because now we can literally say the sky’s the limit! Nowhere to go but up from here!”