CustomInk

  www.customink.com
  www.customink.com

CustomInk Reviews

Updated October 29, 2014
Updated October 29, 2014
44 Reviews
3.9
44 Reviews
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CustomInk Chairman, President, CEO, and Co-Founder Marc Katz
Marc Katz
39 Ratings

6 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 4 people found this helpful  

    Growing Pains...For Years

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Order Operations in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Order Operations in Fairfax, VA

    I have been working at CustomInk full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Friendly People, Great Benefits Package, Mostly Fun Place to Work

    Cons

    Work-Life Balance is virtually non existent in FFX location, Professional Development is Lackluster, Salary is Borderline Insulting

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You hire really motivated, incredibly smart individuals who have aspirations to advance in their roles. While I can't speak for other departments within the company, I can say that Order Operations roles (i.e. Sales, SA, LA, ART) are certainly feeling stifled. The amount of work that these employees must produce each week is exhausting, while the pay leaves much to be desired. (Mandatory OT for 9 out of the 12 months is not a good work-life balance).

    In Order Operations, there is also a mentality that Management is offering us some incredible opportunities to learn new roles. For instance, they'll ask for volunteers to help other departments when things are chaotic for that specific role. Instead of offering a bonus structure as an incentive - they make it seem like you should be honored to learn a new skill. I think the term we use here is "lateral". Basically every time that you learn a new skill, or take on a new role, you're looking at a lateral move. Lateral at CustomInk just means they don't have to give you a pay increase.

    Management has their own issues. Many of the Middle Managers are not qualified to actually be in their roles, yet we grew too quickly from a small company and therefore had to promote too quickly. We're seeing the impact of this disorganization now, and we're bringing in senior management from outside to try and clean this up.

    The entire company is now cutting back on the fun activities and "Work Hard Play Hard" mentality that we used to promote so freely, mainly because it seems as though the values that we used to have as a company have now been overshadowed by the increase in revenue. It's really a shame to see such a fun, young, vibrant company start to fizzle out because making enormous amounts of money for investors has now taken precedence.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2. 9 people found this helpful  

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at CustomInk full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    - The physical environment is quite nice and comfortable (well as long as more than 3 people don't want to use the restroom at the same time). This is the 3rd office we've had in VA since I started and they've designed it from the ground up. They do an admirable job of making it a pleasant place to perform your job. They provide lunch once a week and provide other small surprises throughout the year. The Team Environment people are amazing.
    - There are some truly great people who work here. I've met some great friends and there really are many people here that live the 3 tenets That CI advertises as their ore beliefs.
    - The Health benefits are very good. About the best package you will find outside govt. if you are single.

    Cons

    Unfortunately CI depends on surface level benefits like a free lunch or a Cornhole Tournament to but a nice shine on what is really a glorified assembly line; complete with the industrial revolution reminiscent problems.

    - Compensation: The compensation is minimal for the volume of work demanded. They use a system called performance based earning. This is approached not unlike the way a server in a restaurant will make a lower wage as they can supplement their earnings via tips. At CI it is done via productivity monitoring. You make a minimal base salary, and then there are a series or incentives that you can potentially earn based on pure statistical performance. This is how they get around the concept of standard of living or annual raises. They claim that you control your own pay, and can simply earn more based on performing better. The interesting part is that if you don't reach these goals you don't just make your base salary, you are put on a performance plan, and then terminated. Making these earnings less a bonus to your salary, but instead a level of production that is demanded. Another facet of this program is that while you will sign an offer sheet with the details of these incentives and bonuses, they can and will be changed later, but not with your agreement. If a team seems to be consistently out earning, the PBE can be adjusted to make it harder to reach those incentives. This leads to another problem, the "raise" system is based on being able to consistently meet or exceed the goals of this program. PBE is measured monthly, by exceeding for 3 straight months you can increase your base salary by a small percentage, similar tiers can be achieved for 6 months or a year (this is not transparent information though, I had to learn about it via fellow employees, and Management does not monitor for the employee reaching these tiers, so you will have to request them). This becomes a problem as with the fluid nature of the PBE. Sometimes due to a number of circumstances the PBE will not be valid that month, since you did not out earn it, it does not count as a step towards your next pay tier. This happens quite often and trying to get your first raise may take you several years. Of course all things can be changed, and I've spoken with several people that were offered the raises without officially maintaining the required stats, while others had to spend months fighting for them Politics go a long way.

    -Leadership/Promotions: I fully believe that upper management thinks that everything is as wonderful as those Great Places to Work Surveys say. There is a significant buffer between upper management and the SS/Operations teams that make up the majority of the employee base. Middle management is were the information control seems to start. We take regular surveys to give feedback (positive or negative) to the company, but these are not anonymous, they actually go to your direct supervisors. Negative feedback or grievances can and will follow you in your time with this company and can essentially get you black listed. Despite the growth of the company, advancement opportunities are slim, there is a great deal of lateral movement, but not much for advancement. If you have earned the reputation as being a malcontent on one of these surveys (whether justified or not) these opportunities will likely be closed to you. I do think there are great people trying to be great managers, but the Brand trumps all.

    Lastly
    MOD system: This is a company wide policy of MODifying behavior. Which is a scary concept in itself, but that is the idea. Employees are instructed to assign errors to other employees if they see something in the work process that may disrupt them in any way from doing their role. There are guidelines, but the practice is inconsistent and can cause resentment/unbalance. These errors statistically calculate your accuracy on the performance based earnings. IF you do not reach the predetermined accuracy, you CANNOT out earn. So this is a system where fellow employees are in control of each others paycheck. This can cause friends to let errors go, while marking the same errors on other inkers. These are also not Anonymous, so an employee is well aware who has marked one of these error on them. An error that has the potential to greatly affect the monthly earnings of that employee. While we are assured that animosity will not be tolerated in this system, there is no way to police it. MODs will always be inconsistent and an unjustifiable way to hold an employees earnings hostage.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I truly think that the PBE and MOD systems were put in place with every good intention. I also think that they have been since used more as a control mechanism as time has gone on. I truly want management to understand that Happy employees will result in even happier customer. We do a great job executing for the customer, but the employees work under a cloud of fear. We fear to voice concerns, to be labeled as negative. I've watched too many amazing and talented people leave the company to take jobs that recognize their value. I fear fewer and fewer of us feel like valuable members of a family, and more like just another link on the chain. Let's make the good outweigh the bad again.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 9 people found this helpful  

    Looks good on the outside

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Expert Production Artist in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Expert Production Artist in Fairfax, VA

    I have been working at CustomInk full-time

    Pros

    Customink has an unrivaled benefits package. The facilities are very nice and well maintained. Every week the company provides a free lunch for everyone, and there are a myriad of little perks that the Team Development department organizes.

    Cons

    The pay is not very good to begin with considering the specificity of the job position, and there are no time-based raises or cost of living adjustments. Upward mobility is not very good, and positions to which an order operations employee can aspire are becoming fewer and farther between. Becoming a "Lead" or an "AM" is not terribly difficult, but does not result in a significant change in compensation. The pay gained from the Lead promotion is the same as the differential from working a regular weekend shift. Advancement past AM is unlikely. Customink seems oriented toward cultivating a "dazzling" atmosphere and creating pod people, if anyone is familiar with management terminology. Through internal branding and small perks, the company is able to pay less across the board by creating employees with a rabid loyalty; employees who often have never held any other position. Company Surveys are taken fairly often for employees to leave feedback about Customink processes, but these surveys are NOT confidential, and you will be interrogated about every answer. If no successful argument can be made against your criticism, the idea will be "looked at" indefinitely.
    Pay for order ops employees is set up like a digital factory. Your base pay is barely enough to survive, and the performance based pay you recieve on top of that depends on two factors: "Productivity" - the quantity of orders you can complete daily, and "Quality of Work" - the number of "MODs" recorded on you. The MOD system is basically a big game of tattle. It is a requirement of your job that you "record feedback" whenever you see a mistake in an order, thereby slowing your own productivity and taking money from the pocket of a fellow employee. This of course breeds resentment and irritation in the workplace, which is swept under the rug like everything else.
    Order Ops employees are "offered" the "opportunity" to undergo interdepartmental training. While this generally is a good thing to understand the processes of neighboring departments, it leads to a very undesirable side-effect: Customink then assigns people on a day-to-day basis to do work in other departments according to where the bulk of orders are in the assembly line. In this way, they are able to keep a fluid workforce and hire fewer employees to do more work. This is most evident in the two annual "busy seasons". Customink will brag about the 25 days per year of vacation, which is indeed wonderful, except you can only take this vacation during "off-season". The result is that all 1000-ish employees clamor to use up their time off (since only 5 days roll over) which causes a backup in the assembly line. Then the company assigns MANDATORY overtime.
    Undoubtedly someone from upper management will be along shortly to provide counter-examples, and they might even be true. But if you are considering a position here, I would urge you to keep an open mind and look past the initial "WOW factor" of the free snacks and the million dollar patio. Keep an eye on the way you're being treated and the way others are being treated, and decide if that seems right to you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    To the upper management: Your mid-level management is hiding problems from you. Harassment complaints and job dissatisfaction are swept under the rug so that they can tell you everything is fine and dandy. But without your workforce, Customink can't continue to operate, and eventually people will grow backbones and unionize or mass-quit. Operating a business is about more than just making money. There are much easier ways to make money than to print custom t-shirts. The challenge is to create a system that is able to support itself yes, but also creates happiness and positivity in the lives of it's employees and in the community.

    To the mid-level management: Read about Chairman Mao and the Great Leap Forward. What you're doing now is exactly what mid-level supervisors did then, and the result won't be any better. As a mid-level manager your job is to advocate for your employees and keep them happy and healthy while inspiring them to perform at a level that is pleasing to upper-management. Leadership isn't about forcing the production of a desired product to show off to upper management; it's about forming a bond with your team and LEADING them. Show a good example. Be on their side. Fight on their behalf for things like cost of living and a system of pay that isn't based on back-biting.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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  5. 5 people found this helpful  

    Just not that great

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fairfax, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Fairfax, VA

    I have been working at CustomInk full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Casual dress code. Fun people to work with. Fun environment.

    Cons

    They use the fun casual atmosphere and wearing t-shirts to work to cover for the fact that they pay horribly. They also use certain rare examples of people advancing into new roles as a way to pretend that there is great opportunity for growth... there is not.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 4 people found this helpful  

    Great when you first start

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Satisfaction Assurance in McLean, VA
    Former Employee - Satisfaction Assurance in McLean, VA

    I worked at CustomInk full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Free Breakfast every Monday free lunch every Friday!

    Cons

    If your in good with certain people you can advance quickly, if not they will find away to get rid you even if your productive.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Stop hiring kids and grow up as a company!

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    I need an adult!

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Satisfaction Assurance in McLean, VA
    Current Employee - Satisfaction Assurance in McLean, VA

    I have been working at CustomInk full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Very casual work environment. Lots of meetings to check up on your progress toward hitting your targets.

    Cons

    Most of the people there are in their early to mid 20's - managers included. Lack of maturity and professionalism was a bit of a problem. I didn't really realize how much I'd miss those things until they were absent from the office. When problems arose, we didn't need a friend, we needed a leader - and there was none to be found.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find out how other companies hire, train, and release employees. There is a lot of information out there that CustomInk seems to be ignoring for the purposes of doing things "the CustomInk way". They are called industry standards for a reason.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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