SHADES, TANKS, AND TORPEDOES: Inside The Awesome Headquarters Of Oakley

There is nothing boring about the headquarters of Oakley, Inc. in Foothill Ranch, California.

Besides being the place where about 35,000 sets of sunglasses are made every day, the company has some features that set it apart from other corporate homes, like a working military tank, a BMX track, and a torpedo in the parking lot.

We recently traveled down to Southern California for a conference at Oakley for the Infinite Hero Foundation, a charity for military veterans and their families.

While there, we took a tour of the company that makes everything from sunglasses to boots to backpacks.

Disclosure: Infinite Hero paid for the author’s travel to the conference, where he was a discussion panel moderator.

One of the first things you'll notice about Oakley HQ is its many design cues from the military.

And visitors take notice pretty quickly, with a tank parked not far from the parking lot.

This isn't a prop. It's a real working tank. While we were there, Oakley staffers used it to give people rides during the conference.

Of course, it has Oakley branding on its side.

Just past the tank, we get our first look at the massive building. This is both a manufacturing facility and the corporate headquarters.

There's also a torpedo mounted outside.

The nods to the military make sense for Oakley, since military members often use the company's gear. Troops also get huge discounts on Oakley gear through a service called US Standard Issue.

On this particular day, Oakley put out the 'purple carpet' for the Infinite Hero Foundation.

While separate from Oakley Inc., Infinite Hero is a nonprofit with close ties to the company.

Let's head on inside.

Inside the lobby, there are ejection seats from fighter jets. Not your average waiting room.

According to our guide Stephen DeMille, who works in Oakley's marketing department, the building architecture is modelled after movies like 'Blade Runner' and 'Mad Max.'

It certainly seems that way. Oakley CEO Colin Baden designed the entire place, DeMille says. Before we head deeper inside, our guide shows us the crazy stress tests the company does on its glasses.

To test the optics of the glasses, Oakley puts a camera in place of the human eye ...

Which shows a picture like this up on the screen. As DeMille shows us, Oakley glasses have patented technology that makes the screen look clear and centered like this.

But once he puts on a competitor's shades, the screen gets blurry and off center. While your brain compensates just fine, DeMille explains, this type of optic can give you headaches and other negative effects.

That's not the only test. He also shows us ballistic testing, which uses a .22-calibre pellet fired at 500mph.

It's hard to see here, but the glass held up just fine with barely a scratch.

Then there's a test with a weight dropped from over 4 feet. This time, the Oakley lens did pop out, but it stayed together -- instead of breaking apart into small glass shards like others might.

Those tests are done at random for each batch of glasses the company makes. Our tour continued into the corporate area ...

... With cubicles abound, it looks like your standard office space.

But then again, your standard office doesn't have a cannon.

One hallway had pushcarts on display that employees built to race.

While we got a good look inside the corporate part, we weren't allowed to take photos inside the manufacturing section.

There are some things Oakley doesn't want its competitors to see.

Still, we got to check out CEO Colin Baden's office, featuring one of the coolest waiting rooms ever.

The inside seems like the ultimate man-cave ...

... And yes, that is a .50-calibre machine gun in the back corner. (We're not sure if it's a working one.)

On any given day, Oakley's campus can host between 2400 to 2900 employees, depending on the season.

And when they're not working, they can take a spin on the BMX track out back if they'd like.

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