Every piece of Cisco furniture is handcrafted at our headquarters in Los Angeles. From the outside, the factory blends into our South Central environment with graffiti along the side wall and California native plants lining the entrance. Over the next few months, we’ll be taking you through the red brick walkway, up the outdoor teal elevator, and behind the scenes of a factory where natural daylight pours through the windows and craftsmen construct sustainable furniture.
A garden extends across each sun-facing wall of the factory. This unassuming garden, like many things at Cisco, has a story and beauty beyond what meets the eye. Thang Tran is the IT expert and gardener at Cisco Home. He has an attention to detail that translates from data security to his lemongrass plants. His face lights up describing each plant and he laughs as he says, "I could talk about the garden all day."
Thang has carefully arranged the plants, okra to attract ladybugs and corn along the wall where heat radiates off the red brick. This corn, traditionally a summer crop, grows throughout the winter here thanks to Thang’s planning. He meticulously hand-pollinates each cob of corn so that every piece of silk will produce a kernel. Thang started growing food 8 years ago at the Winston Smoyer Memorial Garden in Alhambra. He rented a plot of land and master gardeners taught him the best methods of gardening. Thang started bringing his thriving produce to Cisco headquarters to share with his coworkers. After a few months of fresh vegetables from Alhambra, the Cisco team asked him to help build an edible garden at the factory.
Less than a year old, the garden is already teeming with life- butterflies and ladybugs abound. New cucumber and Korean melon seedlings sprout in front of the corn. Past these seedlings are the chives from which Thang carefully cuts the young flowers. Especially good for your eyes, Thang explains, these expensive florals are a nutritious byproduct of the chive’s lifecycle. A Vietnamese immigrant, Thang is especially proud of the lemongrass lining the corners of the garden beds. This plant is the key ingredient of a spicy soup that originates from Huế in the middle region of Vietnam.
Over one raised bed is a small pile of drying chard leaves. Thang lifts the leaves to show the life below them. These leaves have made a little compost pile, attracting micro-organisms and worms to the soil underneath them. Thang will move the leaves around the garden as they decompose, bringing with them an ecosystem for healthy soil.
The same care and attention Thang gives to the garden, he applies to his work in IT. He runs servers to the stores, heads the security system, and implements the back-up and disaster recovery plan. Thang attempts to teach and empower each person at Cisco to learn the basics of maintaining the IT system with him. He explains that everyone at Cisco is a part of his team; a claim his inviting demeanor makes easy to believe.