Find out more about the winners and their experiences as Prowler award winners below.
On the Prowl for Excellent Employees
Imagine you're on "The Price Is Right" and you just heard Rod say "You've just won a new car!" Lights are flashing, bells are ringing, and you're jumping up and down. Here at Sashco, that's just another day for Prowler winners. They drive around a bright yellow Chrysler Prowler for a full year and are even given a special parking spot at the home office. And fuel? Paid! That's part of the prize package.
Les Burch, president of Sashco, instituted the Prowler award back in 2001 as a way to recognize and show appreciation for one special employee each year. Nominated by their peers, all Prowler winners have all been employees for at least 5 years and have demonstrated their willingness and ability to be team players. They are known for upholding Sashco's values of truth, trust, care and forgiveness both in word and action.
All nominations are reviewed by Les Burch, Vice President Wayne Summons, and former Prowler winners. Each candidate is evaluated based on a specific set of criteria and the winner is announced each November at Sashco's annual employee fete, the Big Cat Bash.
Bryan Hillsley was the first winner of the Prowler in 2001. Bryan has been with Sashco since November of 1987. He started out as a Controller and then advanced to become the Vice President of Manufacturing. "It [the Prowler] was parked outside of the restaurant where the Big Cat Bash was being held. I remember thinking, 'what a cool car!' I had no idea that I would be driving it off the lot later that night," Bryan stated.
One night in October of 2001, Les announced that the Prowler outside was for one worthy winner, and that the winner was Bryan Hillsley. "I was very shocked. This was the first time I had won anything."
When asked about his favorite moment with the Prowler, Bryan recalls, "I took my mother-in-law [who suffers from Alzheimer's] for a drive through Ft. Collins. We ended up at the Colorado State University Stadium where the marching band was practicing. We had the top down, and it was just the marching band and my mom and I. The next day my mom said that she had a dream that she took a ride to the mountains in a beautiful car and a band was playing for her. We told her that it wasn't a dream and that it all really happened."
Mike Markes was the second winner of the Prowler in 2002. Mike started with Sashco in November of 1990. He started in the Production Department and then moved to the Display Department. He then became a Lexel and stains formulator, and soon after, was promoted to his current position of Production Supervisor. Mike feels that, "if you work hard, the car is the payoff."
Since Mike was the second winner of the Prowler, he wasn't as shocked as Bryan when he found out he had won. He knew that the Prowler parked outside would be someone's by the end of the night. "I was still surprised. I knew that Sashco appreciated all of my hard work throughout the years. It was worth working hard for," Mike stated. Mike's favorite memory so far with the Prowler is, "I was behind a school bus full of kids, and all of them ran to the back of the bus and started waving at me. When you're driving this car, everyone stares at you. People are always trying to race you, or they follow you so they can get a better look at the car. It makes you uneasy at first, but then you get used to it."
2003's Prowler winner was Gil Lopez. Gil started at Sashco in 1989 as a temp in the Display department. After working as a temp for six months, Gil was hired full-time in Display and Production. In 1998, Gil was promoted to Display Crew Leader, and promoted again in 2002 to Production Floor Manager. Gil currently serves as Sashco's Production Manager where she manages Display and Literature, as well as the production floor. When asked how she felt upon hearing her name called as the 2003 Prowler winner, Gil simply summed it up with one word — "shocked!"
Gil had countless memorable experiences while driving the Prowler. Some of her experiences included being followed home by strangers hoping for a closer look at the car, people wanting to take pictures with the car, and appeasing drooling high school kids just aching for a moment to sit in the car as they daydreamed. Gil's fondest memory however, was having her parents sit in the car with big smiles on their faces, knowing that they had never sat in anything like that before. "In that moment," commented Gil, "I knew how proud they were of all my hard work. This was for them as much as it was for me. That is priceless."
This year, Debbie Bassett took the Prowler home to enjoy for a year. Debbie started as the Receptionist at Sashco in 1986. After almost two decades of faithful service, Debbie has received five promotions that took her from receptionist to customer service, to customer service manager, to log division sales manager, to log division marketing manager, and finally to her current position as the Director of Marketing.
When asked if she was surprised to hear her name called as this years winner, Debbie explained that "I don't think I heard my name the first time Les said it. It was so totally unexpected, that I really think that I wasn't listening. Rick [Debbie's husband] prodded me and said, 'Deb, that's you'. I was in total shock but after the shock wore off, I just wanted to hide. I felt totally honored, but also humbled because there are so many worthy people here at Sashco, plus, none of us succeed alone. We succeed because our employees have awesome attitudes, because we are encouraged to be more, and we have friends at Sashco who encourage us. So, it's humbling to be called out when you know in your heart that all those things work together."
2005 Prowler winner, Daina Penn, joined the Sashco team in 1997, as the only graphic designer. Daina has spent the past 13 years at Sashco producing stellar design work and successfully fulfilling her personal mission to "attract the customer" with her packaging and promotional design. She now passes on her knowledge, experience and talent at Sashco by mentoring a design staff of three people. Daina explains that, "When it was first announced in 2001 that an employee could win that car for a year, I had a goal. I wanted to win. What I didn't know was winning this car was one of the most humbling experiences I would ever go through."
Just four years later, Daina achieved her goal when she drove home with the Prowler. When asked how it felt to hear her named called as the 2005 Prowler winner, she explained that, "When you hear Les call your name your first reaction is to say, 'Oh I'm so glad so-and-so won the car,' then you look around and realize the name that was called was yours and all of a sudden you don't really know what to do. A lot of us have a hidden goal or desire to win the Prowler but when it actually happens, it kind of just makes you feel numb inside. You start to realize they have chosen you as someone who meets a high criteria required in your work and the values Sashco stands for—truth, trust, care & forgiveness. It's very humbling."
Cruising around town in a bright yellow Prowler naturally generates a certain amount of attention - we asked Daina to share one of her fondest memories from her year in the Prowler. Daina said, "The day after I won I was driving in my neighborhood and a neighbor of mine writes, prints and sends out a weekly newspaper in our area. I live in the small town of Frederick, CO. She waved me down to ask me if I bought the car. I laughed and proceeded to tell her the story. She was so impressed with Sashco and what happened that she wrote an article and took a picture of me in the car for the front page. The next week I found it in my mailbox. A few days later I went to the grocery store and the checkout lady read my name on my check and asked me if I drove the car to the store. She wanted to see it. I had that happen a lot after that article went out. No matter where I went - the gas station, post office, grocery store—people asked me about the car and Sashco. A lot of people asked if we were hiring! I could have collected a lot of resumes that year. Definitely a fun, fast and humbling experience and one I'll always remember."
2006 Prowler winner, Scott Stropko has been a valuable member of the Sashco team for more than 15 years. In his roles at Sashco, Scott has spent time both selling in the Southwestern US and managing the Log Sales Division. Evidenced by his statement, "I was quite humbled when nominated for the Prowler. I never felt as though I was deserving—just doing my job"."
Scott delivers not only a top-notch, professional level of service, but also brings humility, warmth and a sense of humor both to his position, and the company. His character has earned him an esteemed reputation with anyone who knows him. When asked what Scott values most about Sashco, he answered, "Our company's values are Truth, Trust, Care, and Forgiveness. I believe my tenure is tightly related to the support I've received and the opportunity I've had to grow personally and professionally with these values as my foundation for making decisions and in the way I interact with others."
Scott enjoyed driving the Prowler all year. However, one of Scott's most entertaining memories is "taking the prowler through a DUI checkpoint on a Friday night and having 20 plus police officers surround the car, trying to figure out a way to see if I was intoxicated so they could take it and 'impound it' (take it for a little spin)." Fortunately, Scott was simply on his way home from Barnes and Noble, just enjoying the warm late night air with the top down.
Steve Holland drove home with the Prowler in 2007. After 18 years, and terms of service in teams ranging from customer service to sales, Steve is one of Sashco's most knowledgeable and valuable assets. Steve's cumulative experience and knowledge serve him well in his current role as National Sales Manager where he leads Sashco's home improvement sales team.
Every Prowler winner must meet a wide range of criteria varying from significant professional contributions to standout personal ethics and values. Steve explained that, "I felt honored winning the Prowler because I was nominated and chosen by my peers who recognized those accomplishments."
When asked about one of his fondest memories during his year with the Prowler, Steve recalled being stopped at a stoplight when a bunch of teenagers in the car next to him pulled up and asked "what kind of car are you driving?" Steve coyly replied "A Sashco" — all they could say was "wow, cool!"
George Mendiola was the 2008 Prowler winner. Hired in 1999 as a packager, George has continued to impress those around him with his no-nonsense work ethic and natural leadership ability. Little wonder George quickly worked his way up from packager to production supervisor. George's authenticity, kindness, and ability to lead by example make him a respected member of the Sashco team. When awarded the Prowler it was difficult to determine who was more excited George or his wife. Together they clocked hours and hours cruising the Colorado highways, "we enjoyed every minute of it", George explained (there may have even been a small tear in his eye).
Ken Atkinson sorrowfully surrendered the car keys this past November after enjoying the Prowler during 2009. Ken was hired as an IT technician in 1999. During the past decade at Sashco, Ken's initiative and intelligence have prompted a number of promotions. In fact, nearly every year Ken has been moved into a position of greater responsibility. Ken's proven aptitude for project management made him a perfect fit for his current role, recently promoted again to IT/Project Manager. Ken is always willing to do more than asked, and goes above and beyond both as a professional and as a caring co-worker. When asked about his favorite experience during his year as the Prowler winner, a normally quiet and subdued Ken animatedly answered, "I liked going fast. I liked going really, really fast."
Andy Spoelstra is the 2010 winner of the coveted Prowler award. He started as a chemist with Sashco straight out of college 13 years ago. During his time with Sashco, Andy has been a key member in the research and development of many new products and formulations including new and improved Big Stretch. Always thinking, Andy is a perfect fit for the innovative culture at Sashco—he has an impressive talent for both identifying and developing new product ideas.
Andy's quick wit and sense of humor, combined with commitment and product knowledge make him a true asset to his team and to the company. At more than six feet tall, Andy explained that, "It was an honor to win the car and represent R&D and I'm excited that I actually do fit in it." When asked what he most looks forward to experiencing in the Prowler this year, Andy smirked, "Rather than take everyone's advice and wait for warmer days to drive the car around, I'm going to put chains on all the tires and take the Prowler up to Winter Park for some snowboarding - wish me luck!"
Susan's contributions to Sashco started in 2000 when she joined the Information Systems team as A/R and Payroll Specialist. In the 11 years since then, Susan has contributed significantly to Sashco by being a dependable, conscientious, hardworking member of the Sashco Team. In 2010 Susan made the bold decision to move from Information Systems to the Marketing team. She quickly jumped in to the busy-ness on the Marketing team, while still transitioning out of her position in Information Systems. A tug of war ensued. (After all, who wouldn't want all that talent and expertise all to themselves?) In the end, Susan did a great job supporting both teams through the transition and continues to be a resource for Information Systems. This is but one of many reasons her colleagues voted Susan the Prowler winner. It is her commitment to doing an excellent job and the care Susan exhibits every day that helps Sashco make products that work.
At the presentation ceremony in November 2011, Susan stood among 85 employees, awaiting the winner's name to be called. As her name was announced, it was clear she felt honored. Susan, with her husband Bill, joined Les Burch, President of Sashco, at the car. It was then, and continues to be, unclear who was more excited – Susan or her husband. She has been seen driving the car around town, getting those head-turning looks. Her husband is also enjoying the experience, and enjoys time with the car. When someone mistakenly says to him "nice car" he will proudly inform them that it's not his, but was awarded to his wife Susan. Congratulations again, Susan! We're proud to add you the list of deserving Prowler winners.
Richard Shull started at Sashco "many moons ago" and is 2012's Prowler Winner. When he heard his name called as the winner, his immediate thought was, "how in the world will I fit my duck decoys, my gun and my two dogs in there?" Well, now he has a year to figure it out.
During his many moons at Sashco as Maintenance and Quality Control Manager, Richard has been in charge of keeping the Sashco factory running and quality standards high. This means many hours under or in machines, lots of fun in the quality control lab, and a lot of sweat, grease and grime. His hard work helps keep Sashco's products rolling out the doors.
While he has no set plans for the Prowler yet, he tell us that a few mountain drives are in order. Richard enjoys "coaching (football, wrestling, shooting sports, and more), camping, fishing, hunting, just about anything outdoors," so we expect the Prowler to experience some new adventures this year as it spends time in the rugged outdoors with Richard, his duck decoys and his family. (We are also predicting many more car washes for the Prowler this year.)
Congratulations to Richard!