Stop 13: Seaena
Las Vegas, NV

While Sunday was spent driving through the Mojave Desert and braving 100+ degree heat made worse when we unwisely stopped at “The Tallest Thermometer in the World,” this Monday morning is greeted with a big surprise. When we head to the lobby of the Palazzo Hotel on the Vegas strip to meet Lisa Surber, a sales rep for Seaena (asi/47782), a supplier that specializes in awards and is the number-one best place to work for 2011, we surely can’t be blamed if we spot a mirage.

Indeed, as we round the corner that leads us to the lobby fountain, there stands in front of us a Vegas showgirl in full regalia, blue-feather headdress and all. This is no mirage, however, nor is it an ordinary showgirl. It is Surber, who immediately thrusts a bag at us containing a bejeweled Elvis costume and says, “Are you guys ready to have some fun?”

Joe dons the Elvis costume, and we head for the Palazzo’s garage, which holds Surber’s Mini Cooper. We are loaded down with bags at this point (after meeting with Surber, we have to get to the airport), but Surber, despite the fact that she is in little more than a sequined bikini, happily puts the car’s top down, buckles us all in, and then hands 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 coworkers 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 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 inexplicably 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 who loves her job and the company she works for. A company, by the way, that has grown its revenues by double digits in the past year. In fact, Fruetel, who has 11 full-time employees and seasonal workers in the company’s busy fourth quarter, attributes the company’s teamwork-oriented atmosphere to its recent success. “Our employees are dynamic, fun loving, and go the extra mile for the company and customers,” Fruetel says. “We see happy employees because they see their efforts acknowledged and they realize that they share the load with others.”

We’re sorry to say good-bye as Surber 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 Las Vegas to Boulder, CO. “The fun never ends here in Vegas,” Surber tells us, as she says good-bye. “It also never ends at our company.”

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