CardConnect's CEO Jeffrey Shanahan talks about creating an office space that 'feels like Silicon Valley in the Delaware Valley'

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The CardConnect corporate office, located in King of Prussia, PA., offers a relaxed work environment to its employees.

When CardConnect CEO Jeffrey Shanahan thinks of what attracts smart, motivated twenty-somethings to work at his King of Prussia fintech firm, he thinks: Office space. But not the movie — definitely not. Shanahan is referring to the layout and offerings in the building he shares with 230 employees. To them, environment is paramount.

CardConnect is a credit card processing company that, in July, sold to larger credit card processing company, First Data. Shanahan compares CardConnect to the ubiquitous credit card processing company Square. He understands if he wants to keep locally grown talent local, he needs to give them the sort of atmosphere that feels like Silicon Valley in the Delaware Valley. CardConnect, named No. 1 midsize company, has made the Top Workplaces list for two years in a row.

Here, Shanahan describes the physical business created by one of his brothers and which he runs with another brother. (This interview has been condensed and edited.)

Camera icon Tracie Van Auken
Jeffrey Shanahan, CEO at CardConnect, wanted to create a work space that is fun and welcoming.

When people talk about CardConnect, they talk about your offices. Why?

People spend most of their waking time at an office. You might as well make it a comfortable, healthy environment.

How’d you do it?
CardConnect was founded by my brother Brian in 2006. We started in Cleveland and grew the business pretty quickly. We sold CardConnect to FTV Capital, a private equity firm, in 2010, and moved our business to Philadelphia — King of Prussia — in 2012. In 2015, we [Note: including another brother, COO Patrick] built out the current office we have now. We hired Rapt Studio, who designed for Google and Ancestry.com, out of California to design it, to bring a West Coast feel. It’s a really cool spot.

We also just signed a lease for the floor above us, to double our space. We are using the same designer and will open up our first floor to the second floor. It’s going to be impressive.

Can you describe the look and goings-on there?

Our office is very open, with very few closed, contained offices. It’s more of a million different breakout areas, places for people to congregate.

There are gaming centers and ping-pong tables. We get Snap Kitchen to come every Monday to fill the fridge with snacks, sandwiches — everything you could want. We have catered lunches on Thursday. We’ve partnered with Greener Partners, a local nonprofit that provides farm foods to the underprivileged, and they provide us a farmers’ market every two weeks. You get a bag, grab vegetables and bring them home.

We have a wellness area for yoga. We offer acupuncture, and a chiropractor comes in. We also pay for gym membership at Life Time Fitness.

And, we do not have a dress code.

What about location?

We have a very young workforce, so we are a little disadvantaged being in King of Prussia. The location is the one downside for some of the younger folks who work here and live in Manayunk or Center City.

But we’re right across the street from the new Town Center, with Wegmans and about 30 restaurants, and stores and apartments.

How do you recruit new employees?

We’ve partnered up with local universities, and try to hire people that way. We usually don’t have to use a recruiter. People know about us and want to work here.

We also have very flexible hours and are flexible about working from home as well. Because we’ve got a fun place to work, we’re pretty flexible in all areas. We’re mostly about getting the work done.

What about growth opportunities within the company?

We try to recruit most of the leadership from within. We’re not bringing folks from outside to become leaders. We’ve done that a few times. It hasn’t worked out great.

We try to be a pretty agile, nimble company, try to run at the opposite direction of a big corporation. People who thrive here are able to adapt quickly. We might change direction quickly, so, overall, flexibility is really important to us. Some folks thrive in that environment.

How important is diversity to what you do?

Diversity is definitely a core value, and it’s evident in our workforce. We have an extremely diverse workforce. We’re very open and inclusive. Everybody who comes here feels like they’re welcome.

What would you say is the CardConnect philosophy?

Honestly, our whole mantra is about putting employees first. We want to take care of the employees as much as possible. They’re the top priority. Because of the environment and the culture we’ve created, our employees put our customers first, and grow the business.

If we can create a warm, thriving, healthy environment, our employees can thrive and our business can thrive. All the investments we’ve made, all the perks … The return: It’s all worth it.