A look behind the scenes of our project for a new headquarters building

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At the beginning of 2021, our new headquarters will be ready, and we’re really looking forward to moving in!

Located in Cébazat, just north of Clermont-Ferrand, France, our new offices will kick off the next step in the brand’s evolution.
In the meantime, during an interview with Florian Palluel, Sustainability Manager for the brand, Vincent André, one of Picture’s co-founders, tells the story and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the project.

P.S. The offices in Annecy-Le-Vieux (where 30 employees / 45% of Picture’s staff works) remain the same.

Hi, Vincent, could you tell us about the origins of this project twelve years after Picture started?

We have always dreamed about working in a place that embodies and exudes our passion for snowboarding and skateboarding. But until 2018, the idea had never occurred to us to be so American and invest in a project of this scale.

We first started thinking about new offices in 2017. At the time, we had just conducted an internal “HR audit” to plan for the hires we needed to make over the next five years that would allow us manage the brand’s growth without the entire team blowing a gasket. The results of the audit were clear, “You have to recruit, especially for administrative, logistics, and financial roles within the company, and at a rate of roughly ten people per year.”

It didn’t take a second explanation for us to understand that in short time we would quickly outgrow our current offices in Gerzat, which, by the way, we expanded in 2014.
We had no choice but to move!

From then on, we started planning, and activated our network… our family network! My brother-in-law is an architect and co-founder of Casa, an architecture studio in Clermont-Ferrand. The people at Casa really understood what we wanted, including all of our outrageous ideas and what motivates us. They put to paper all those things we had in mind for quite a while but couldn’t do in our current office space.

What do you mean? What did you have in mind?

First, let’s head back to 2008, when Picture didn’t exist yet. Julien, Jeremy, and I started thinking about what we could do together but we hadn’t really determined if it would be a shop or a brand. The first discussion we had took place at the Marcombes skate park (Clermont-Ferrand). Nothing new, we hung out there a lot and spent most of our waking hours skateboarding. And then on the weekends, we’d go to Super Besse. We grew up skateboarding and snowboarding.
Twelve years later, it’s cool to be able to say that we combined our passion with our profession.

Two years ago, we knew that had to move and build a new office space, and that also included the idea of having our very own skate park! So we met with Constructo, one of the leading companies for building skate park type structures.

I can’t wait to test it! The skate park will be private, but we plan to organize events with the local community and our riders.

Am I right in understanding that the new offices will also have musical instruments available for employees to play?

Exactly. Music is a core part of the skateboarding and snowboarding world, and even plays an integral part in our product development process. Jeremy is incapable of designing a jacket without listening to his favorite tunes! And several people within the company play in bands. We have a small area set aside at the office that has a stage and a bunch of instruments. Everyone can try them out. It’s pretty cool to create a musical atmosphere at the office, and that includes concerts at night after work

The new building in Cébazat is not very far from the current headquarters. Was this done on purpose?

Yes, it was important for us to stay in the same dynamic and innovative business park (the IBO datacenter comes to mind). Clermont Metropole, SEAu, and the City of Cébazat really helped us with making the project turn into a reality.

Another really important point is the commute. We will be located just 1km from our current offices, but this small difference brings us closer to Clermont-Ferrand and takes us further away from areas with the heaviest traffic. It will also be much easier to commute to work by bike, or to use some form of tramway, bike, or walk combination. It will be easy calculate the reduction in CO2 emissions when compared to commuting alone by car. Since we know that vehicles account for 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions in France, we want to be able to “do our small part” in reducing emissions.

Also, we did not want to move too far away from the cafeteria where we like to eat lunch (thanks, Michelin!).

Ha! Since we’re talking about emissions, how will the building be powered?

For electricity, the building’s solar panels will produce a portion of our needs (40%) and the rest will come from the French power company, which hardly emits any CO2.
Finding the right heating system proved the real challenge. The building won’t have a boiler, and we won’t use any fossil fuels, like natural gas or fuel oil. We chose to invest in low-emission / no-emission electricity to power the heat pumps.
As with commuting, we identified the main sources of greenhouse gases in France. Powering buildings is a major issue and we felt that a brand new building like ours should set an example from the start.

Great. Anything else to add about the environment?

Yes, we plan to partner with Laurent Roher from La Ferme Urbaine (“The Urban Farm”). He will provide us with help and advice on how to manage the small vegetable garden next to the skate park. The idea is to learn about what to plant, how to plant it, and at what time of year so that the garden doesn’t turn into a bunch of weeds. All employees are welcome to pitch in so that we can enjoy the delicious treats nature has to offer!

Honestly, I see our new headquarter offices as a fantastic opportunity for everyone to break with habit. If I may generalize, what does everyone do these days when they take a quick break? They go on Instagram or YouTube. Well, with our new offices, I would like that to change and that for everyone to discover something new, whether it be skateboarding, music, working the soil, and all the while sharing these experiences with colleagues and friends.

Since there’s no lake like in Annecy, you’re trying to make sure that there are as many activities as possible at the office, right?

Ha, good point. I wonder if we’ll have to limit access to the skate park… 😉 Seriously, the building was designed to have enough space to warmly welcome and host our colleagues from Annecy when they pay us a visit. It’s important to feel at ease where you work, especially when you’re traveling.

So when is the move?

Construction is making progress at a steady pace, and I can’t wait to move in! If all goes as intended we’ll be working in our new offices at the start of 2021. And inside the company, as you know, we’re already busy planning. The working groups we formed (common areas, the environment, and marketing, created on a volunteer basis so that employees take ownership of the project) are pushing ahead. When the move finally happens, we’ll have prepared for just about everything! We’ll finally have a place that represents who we are and embodies the brand’s core values.

The new building will allow us welcome lots of people, organize our sales meetings, and create a genuinely lively place to be!