22 February 2013
Good things come to those who wait
Sometimes patience and loyalty pays off.
We had an interesting event today at work. But before I regale you with the details, let me just give you a little background on my company to give you some perspective.
Normally I don’t like to talk about my work a lot (except for all the road trips I take). IMHO, most would find it boring and I definitely don’t feel that I should be venting my complaints about people on this meager blog (some people do). Not my style and, besides, I believe, if you say things about people or the company, it usually comes back to bite you in the hindquarters.
I work for a medical device company. We manufacture an implantable device used for the treatment of epilepsy and depression. Similar to a pacemaker except it delivers simulation to the brain. It’s not for everyone, but it is an option for patients with refractory epilepsy who have already gone through several rounds of medication and surgery without much success. It gives the patients and physicians an option in lieu of the standard drug therapy. Founded in 1987 and we are currently celebrating our 25th year. I’m going on my 12th year here so I guess that makes me one of the “seasoned old farts”. Couple that experience with the 10 years I spent at a pacemaker company and that gives me some kind of street cred for medical manufacturers. I've worked for a defense contractor and an oil company contractor and came to the conclusion: I like working for a company where you see the direct benefit that your product provides to people. We have many testimonials on how our devices have made a difference in people’s lives, gave them back their freedom. Oh sure, the paycheck certainly helps, but, to me, there is some intrinsic reward in making something that improves quality of life. My reasons for joining the company many years ago were even more personal – my son had a form of epilepsy when he was younger. Suffered several gran mal seizures and had a multitude of tests/analysis performed. Fortunately he grew out of it, but for several years it scared the living crap out of us.
But this is not a sales job about the company or our saga, it is how people are sometimes recognized for what contributions they make. Over the past 5 years, we have seen a rebirth of the company. Previous management was focused on different objectives and different visions for growth. We has several tumultuous years where the market was not kind. Several years back, the senior staff was outed and we brought in a whole new management team. New guys from another medical firm. As with any change, everyone was on pins & needles about how the new CEO and his team would run things. Turns out the new CEO is way more down to earth than the previous guy. Very amiable, self-effacing, wicked sense of humor. He is not above making himself the butt of a joke if it improves the morale or helps support a cause. At our tailgating party last fall, he was one of the participants in the hot dog eating contest. He’s done a lot of good for the company and has really served to motivate others to greater heights. The company is in a great position now – all our debt has been paid off, we bought our building, sales are up - totally different from 5 years ago. They've invested money and resources into growing the brand and developing the corporate culture. A lot more “fun” activities, contests, prizes. I won airline tickets last year. One of my buyers got 4 tickets at the Christmas party. They are really big on giving out awards for recognition of service or contributions.
That brings us to today. Today we had our quarterly meeting. Typical financial performance reports, service recognition, accolades. For everyone who has reached the 5 year milestone, you get a gift certificate for a $5.00 foot long at Subway (running joke). For the 10 year anniversary you get, can you guess? - TWO $5.00 foot longs. This year we had one employee (employee #2) who is the first person to celebrate her 25th anniversary. Guess what she got? Yep. FIVE $5.00 foot longs. But, that’s just part of the subtle joke. They also gave her 25 $25 gift cards to various stores in the area (Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cheesecake Factory, etc.). But that was still not enough. The CEO spent a lot of time hamming it up and building it up until they finally got around to giving her the “big” gift: A freakin’ new car. Wow. Totally over the top. It felt like an Oprah moment. I know that we have been doing pretty darned well over the last few years, but that just blew all of us away. I think it is great that they honor for someone who has committed a quarter century to this place but it had several of us pondering the same question: Just how many more years do I have to go? (13.6 for moi)