The 2015 Durham Bulls season came to a close in early September, but the front office staff didn’t want the fun to end without thanking the scores of employees who work the many jobs that make the ballpark a hit with fans. So they held a special celebration on Thursday, September 17th and honored Employee of the Year winners from each department.
DBBC Group Ticket Sales Manager Brian Simorka spearheaded the efforts to celebrate the seasonal staffers. He told Capcom how the whole thing came together and why thanking these very important employees is a crucial part of what makes the Bulls a winning place:
We used to have an event annually, and then it got away from us. Between the renovation project and other post-season events, we haven’t had a “staff picnic” in three seasons. It used to be we would invite all of the seasonal gameday employees out for lunch on a Saturday or Sunday after the season ended and we would play a baseball game on the field. Now that Bull City Hospitality and the food and beverage team are a part of the “Bulls family”, we knew that the number of employees who would be invited had nearly doubled! So we needed to figure out something fun for everyone.
I rounded up most of the DBBC managers in August for a brainstorming session, as I knew we needed to do something for our gameday employees. We decided it had to be fun for everyone, and something that a smaller number of people (the full time staff), would be able to put on, as everyone else would be invited and not asked to work! Dinner and a movie, came out as a clear winner from the meeting pretty quickly. We wanted to add an element of recognition/awards to it as well, so we thought we could start a new program to recognize Employees of the Year.
Each manager took the information back to their staff, to get their feedback; we were instructed to poll our seasonal staff as to a possible date for the event and to nominate a fellow teammate for Employee of the Year. We did all of this without ruining the surprise of what the actual event was!
Each department manager tallied up their votes and got everything back to me. With all of the specific jobs around the ballpark, we ended up with 22 different winners. I worked with Derek Shoe at East Coast Bats to design the custom engraved bats to give to each winner. For the most part, the employees did not know in advance who would win. Only the winners were notified in advance to make sure they would be in attendance.
The event was Thursday September 17th. We invited all of the winner to a pre-reception in the PNC Triangle Club for them and their guests. The rest of the employees arrived around 6:30pm for a full buffet meal in the Party Decks. Everyone mingled and reminisced about the 2015 season.
We followed up the meal with the awards ceremony, MC’ed by General Manager Mike Birling and PA Announcer Tony Riggsbee. One by one we announced each winner, with a brief write-up from their manager, about why they won. The winners ranged from first year rookies, to seasoned veterans who have been at the ballpark since it opened! The crowd gave standing ovations for each winner! The smiles on their faces, was just great.
Following the awards, and some “thank you’s” from Mike Birling, we had movie night on the videoboard, featuring the Sandlot. Employees and their families spread blankets out on the field, or grabbed a seat in the seating bowl and enjoyed the feature film along with traditional movie theater snacks!
The whole event wouldn’t have been possible without the entire front office staff buying in to the idea. We knew how hard everyone had worked this year, and we needed to give a big thank you to all of our gameday staff. Everyone pitched in to make this a great evening! Eli Starkey and the premium ticket sales staff set up the PNC Club for the reception. The group ticket sales staff and the Sponsorship team manned the front gates and welcomed the guests as they arrived. Todd Feneley, Erin Swanson, and Eric Altman were a three-man cooking machine, staffing the DBAP kitchen, cooking for over 300 RSVPs! Scott Carter, Krista Boyd, Walmer Medina and the entire marketing team made sure we had everything we need from music, to microphones, to the movie on the videoboard! Scott Strickland and I even took out the trash at the end of the night. It really was a full team effort!
Congratulations to the 2015 Durham Bulls Seasonal Employees of the Year:
- Retail – Kirsten Ellis
- Bartender – David Atkinson
- Catering Attendant – Pam Epps
- Catering Kitchen – Earl Brown
- Porter – James Blount
- Stand Attendant – Eduardo Perez-Feliciano
- Stand Cook – Gwen Taylor
- Stand Manager – Ilene Zimmerman
- PNC Triangle Club – Ben Lassiter
- Operations – Dalton Boone
- Operations – Jonathan Rowe
- Operations – Mike Warnick
- Operations – Don Rowe
- Operations – Betty Greene
- Operations – Nathan Baker
- Box Office – Connie Ferrell
- Fan Ambassador – Angela Jeter
- Ticket Taker – Gary Davis
- Game Operations – David Pilley
- Promotions – Alaina Poe
- Grounds Crew – Joe Stumpo
- Hospitality – Stephanie Sevelovitz
Thanks to DBBC’s Brian Simorka & CS’ George Habel for these capcom photos.