When you consider company-wide engagement activities, do the names “Pulp Fiction Pulverizers” or “Juice Terminators” ring a bell? For Fred Arnold and his team at Minute Maid headquarters in Sugar Land, Texas, these creative names were the results of an even more creative employee event.

Managers were tasked to determine unique ways to share happiness at the Minute Maid office. Fred, who has been with the company for more than 30 years, immediately saw the product as the source of inspiration. On a whim, he Googled "oranges" and stumbled upon the Guinness World Record for highest juicing record in a single minute. He decided to leverage this idea to come up with a fun activity to beat this record.

Minute Maid Juicing Challenge 2014

The "Juicin' the World Record” event was born.

Not knowing how his colleagues would respond, Fred approached department managers with the idea. The group responded positively, so Fred put the word out that the office would host a company picnic followed with what else? A juicing competition. With three weeks to prepare, employees were asked to form teams of four. They had to designate a videographer, one official juicer (as per the Guinness World Record parameters) and juicing aids for the day of the competition. They could also use the time to create non-electric mechanisms to juice. Waiting with bated breath, Fred sent the challenge, unsure of what the response would be.

Employees loved it.

Minute Maid Juicing Challenge
Susheel’s efforts resulted in 1818.36
mL of OJ squeezed in 60 seconds –
938.36 mL more than current world record.

“I know how our people are,” Fred remarks about his anticipation of the event. “And I know that they’ll rally. I just didn’t know what to hope for. But I’ve seen how people embrace stuff.” And this competition was no exception.

A total of 17 teams signed up -- all game-day ready with creative names. Because participation was so high, Fred set out to make the event even greater. He purchased more than 1,000 juice oranges from Kroger for the competition. Then, to comply with Guinness requirements, he had to find designated witnesses for the event. Fred even reached out to the Sugar Land community and welcomed local supporters to the event. James Thompson, mayor of the city, a food scientist, Phil Garner of the Houston Astros, a member of the Sugar Land police force, and a member from Rice University, to name a few, came to watch the Sept. 10 competition to both support the Minute Maid office and act as official adjudicators.

Minute Maid Juicing Challenge 2014
Derek Nelson, the Main Squeezer for Team
Squeezestylers, hard at work during the
60-second contest.

The competition itself was even more surprising to Fred than the initial response. Participants came to win. Energy was high, and creativity overflowed.

“All kinds of contraptions showed up -- you wouldn’t believe it,” Fred said. Each group had come up with clever ways to juice well past the existing record of 880 milliliters. Supplies included anything and everything, and the mechanisms were genius. Nine teams broke the record. The winning team juiced a record-setting 2,679.54 milliliters.

What made the day even better was the support and sportsmanship. "You want to talk about sharing happiness? There were smiles and laughter throughout the entire event," Fred recalls. Employees supported each other with loud cheers and high-fives during and after the competition.

Minute Maid Juicing Challenge 2014
2nd Place Winner(s) – The Big Squeeze with Susheel Philip (center with trophy) as the Main Squeezer. L-R, Kelly Marx; Allison Higbie; Charles Torrey; Susheel; Robin Beattie and Rohini Pandita (in front).

Based on the overwhelmingly positive responses to the event, Fred anticipates another juicing competition in the spring.

So what can managers take away from Minute Maid’s experience with employee engagement?

First, understand your audience. “We’re all surrounded by type-A personalities,” who respond well to competition and challenges, Fred notes.

Second, find something everyone can participate in. “Nobody was the expert here,” and everyone could contribute to the creative strategy on equal footing.

Minute Maid Juicing Challenge 2014
Dave squeezed 2679.54 mL of OJ out of about 45
oranges,surpassing the current world record of
880 mL by Ulas Bas of Turkey by 1,799.54 mL.

And finally, give them a common goal. “We let them figure out how to do it," Fred says. "We just gave them some brief parameters. That’s probably what helped them come together as a team... they had to work to figure out how to achieve the goal.”

And not only that, but they also had to work together as a team. And with one common goal in mind, Minute Maid employees found 17 different ways to get there.