July 18, 2011
Filed under: Best Places to Work Road Trip 2011
From Counselor’s Melinda Ligos, as she hits the road for the 2011 Best Places to Work Summer Road Tour …
Big Surprise Greets The Road Tour Crew
We spent yesterday driving through the Mojave Desert, braving 100+ degree heat made worse when we unwisely stopped at “The Tallest Thermometer in the World,” which was unimpressive and caused Andy and Joe to sport matching, instantaneous sunburns. So when we headed to the lobby of the Palazzo Hotel on the Vegas strip this morning to meet Lisa Surber, a sales rep for Seaena, a supplier who specializes in awards, we surely wouldn’t be blamed if we spotted a mirage.
Indeed, as we rounded the lobby corner that led us to the lobby fountain, there stood in front of us a Vegas showgirl in full regalia, blue-feather headdress and all. This was no mirage, however, nor was it an ordinary showgirl. It was Surber, who immediately thrust a bag at us containing a bejeweled Elvis costume and said, “Are you guys ready to have some fun?”
Despite the fact that it was 9 a.m., we said yes, and Surber hopped into full gear. First, Joe put on his Elvis costume (Andy was very deft in volunteering Joe, which of course meant that he didn’t have to take his britches off and don the polyester spectacle), and we headed for the Palazzo’s garage, which held Surber’s Mini Cooper. We were loaded down with bags at this point (after meeting with Surber, we had to get to the airport), but Surber, despite the fact that she was in little more than a sequined bikini, happily put the car’s top down, buckled us all in, and then handed all of our luggage to us, bag by bag, while regaling us with fun facts about the small Las Vegas-based company.
Seaena is like a family environment, Surber tells us. Indeed, the company’s two owners, Chris Robbins and Allison Fruetel, are engaged, and Surber’s brother also works there as a graphic designer. As she navigates her mini out of the garage and into the blazing Nevada sun, Surber tells us about the antics that she and her co-workers participate in to blow off steam and keep their creative juices flowing. One example: The company’s employees often collect gnomes and then proceed to steal them from each other, photographing their whereabouts. (One recently attended a Minnesota Vikings game.) But all of this shoptalk, while interesting, is hard to focus on as Surber expertly navigates down the strip, sparkling like a blue disco ball and waving at passersby and repeatedly yelling out to all of us, “Are y’all ready for some fun?”
We are, despite the fact that Andy and Elvis are quickly wilting in the backseat as they huddle underneath the bags, loaded down with 70 pounds of dirty clothes from our cross-country trip. So Surber pulls off at one of the top tourist attractions in town—the famed Las Vegas sign—where we prepare to take photos of one another and Big Bird, who has inexplicitly stationed himself at the front of the attraction as well.
Surber’s a great sport—she even poses with tourists who mistake her for a real showgirl—and it becomes crystal clear that this is a gal her loves her job. We’re sorry to say good-bye as she rolls the Cooper toward the airport, while telling us about an upcoming “cannonball run” style race she’s about to participate in, which will take her from Vegas to Boulder, CO.
In Vegas, with a showgirl and Elvis, the car-riding portion of our trip has come to an appropriate end. Now onto The ASI Show Chicago, along with one more stop on the Best Places to Work Road Tour in the Chicago area tomorrow.