Medical Service creates hairy situation for fun

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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

boosts staff comradeship, company unity

OAKWOOD VILLAGE, Ohio - Joel Marx got wiggy with his employees in early November and with good reason.

A little less than a year before, Marx and co-owner John Geller issued a friendly challenge to V.P. of Sales Barbara McCarthy. If McCarthy and her sales team at Medical Service Company landed what the balding Marx called an “exorbitant number of oxygen referrals in one month,” he’d wear a wig of her choosing for an entire work day. Geller said he’d prance around in a pair of Spandex running shorts.

“Joel threw out a figure and said there was no way we could bring that in one month,” McCarthy said. “I said, ‘Never say never. But if I do, what’s in it for me, other than money, that I can use as a carrot for myself and my staff? Make it something that is measurable by appearance or humor, something they can look forward to.’”

Thus, the agreed upon bet.

To help out McCarthy, the company added four sales people. For a couple of months, it was touch-and-go as the sales team approached the number but came up short.

In the office, employees began keeping track of the sales, and making internal bets on whether the sales team would hit the magic number. The bet turned into a humorous motivator and bonding experience for the staff.

“It was a goal that everyone was interested in,” McCarthy said. “And everyone had a prediction on how bad Joel would look. It brought a lot of companionship to the office because people who didn’t know each other very well were talking about what, if and when the event was going to happen. I found that very rewarding.”

Marx said he thought nothing would come of the bet but that it ended up taking on a life of its own.

“They’d say, ‘You’re going to wear the wig this month,’” Marx said. “It was silly and built up all year. They finally hit the number in October, and it was a lot of fun.”

Marx and Geller paid off the bet Nov. 7, wearing their get-ups all day at work and at the company holiday party that evening.

Dan Smith, The MED Group’s v.p. of membership, said pictures of Marx in the wig “put a smile on your face.” The bet also shows that Marx, Geller and McCarthy get the “big picture.”

“They achieved a goal and had fun along the way,” Smith said. HME

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