A Culture of Appreciation: Behind-the-Scenes of the GreatAmerica Employee Awards Event

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Jun 19, 2018

Above Image (Photo Credit: John Wiedenheft) : Tony Golobic, CEO at GreatAmerica, practices on stage at rehearsal for the GreatAmerica Awards Banquet.

GreatAmerica Marketing Intern Shares Her Experience at Annual GreatAmerica Employee Event

Every year GreatAmerica employees come together as a group to celebrate their successes with their annual employee awards banquet. This is a formal production at the historic Paramount Theatre, followed by a night of dinner, drinks, and dancing at the Cedar Rapids Country Club. The event is a critical component to building a culture of appreciation and recognition.

GreatAmerica Principle #7: We celebrate successes, share rewards, and make time for fun.

As a summer marketing intern at GreatAmerica, I had the chance to both help and attend this formal event for the first time. With no prior knowledge of these employee awards and the event, I did not know what to expect, or understand the significance or the time involved in putting it together. It was a special way to deliver an annual report to the company with a deep emphasis on the people who make the company go.


Image Above (Photo Credit: Impact Photo):
The Awards Show host, Scott Schulte, reads through the script behind the curtains on stage.

A few weeks into my GreatAmerica summer internship, I helped with various tasks surrounding the event, like script editing and prop testing. I was excited to help contribute as I was asked to run the slideshow for the awards show. All of its moving parts seemed to point in one direction; make this a party the employees could appreciate, and make it entertaining.

Preparation before the GreatAmerica Awards Banquet

Planning for this event began months before my internship. There was a talent show component, complete with auditions at the local community theatre, videotaped skits, and days of practice between two dance teams that would play out a “rumble” onstage. And every person was a GreatAmerica employee, most escaping their comfort zone and performing for the fun of it.


Image Above (Photo Credit: Impact Photo): Members from the
finance and sales teams surprise the audience with a showdown on stage.

A week before the show is when execution went into full gear for dozens of people. This included preparation at the historic Paramount Theatre to setup the awards show portion of the evening, complete with stage blocking (where to stand and when to stand there), sound tests, lighting with the production crew, and the myriad details to create the illusion of spontaneity.


Image Above (Left to Right): Taylor McDonough, Matt Doty and John Wiedenheft
are setup and ready to begin running the Awards Show from the back of the theater.

Members from our Office of the President at GreatAmerica spent numerous hours practicing their lines and parts in the script for the show. Some of our top leaders practiced for their portion of the awards show which included singing, dancing, and acting out skits...all for the employees.


Image Above (Photo Credit: Impact Photo): Tony Golobic (left) on stage and making time for fun with a
special guest surprising the crowd with an envelope announcing the next Outstanding Achiever Award Winner.

As the date approached, I grew more curious as to how the production would come together, how the audience would react to different skits and awards presented since I had a sneak preview during rehearsals.

The GreatAmerica Awards Show

The night of the awards banquet arrived, and nearly 740 attendees filled the Paramount Theater dressed to the nines!

Image Above (Photo Credit: Impact Photo): Employees begin to fill up seats as the doors open
at the Paramount Theater for the GreatAmerica Awards Show.

Throughout the awards show, our host, Scott Schulte, a local radio personality, emceed the night with the help of an 11 person Big Band. Members of our Office of the President - Tony, David, Joe, and Stan - all played a part recognizing numerous deserving employees throughout the night.

It was obvious as an intern that employee appreciation and recognition is important at GreatAmerica.

Image Above (Photo Credit: Impact Photo): Tony Golobic applauds team members
on stage at Annual GreatAmerica Awards Banquet.

Congratulations to the nearly 102 employees were recognized on stage for awards including:

  • *Outstanding Achiever: 11
  • Outstanding Sales Achiever: 11
  • *WOW of the Year: 16
  • *Rookie of the Year: 1
  • Service Awards (5, 10, 15, 20, & 25 years): 78
  • Credit Award: 1
  • (*28 of the awards were planned in secrecy and not announced until live at the awards show)

In addition to the awards portion of the show, GreatAmerica employees participated on stage to help spice up the night. We had three GreatAmerica team members chosen from auditions to perform talent acts which included singing, playing guitar, and rapping. Another group of employees also set their pride aside for a little dance off “rumble” between the finance and sales teams. I thought they all crushed it! I was extremely impressed with the amount of employees willing to get up on stage and be a part of the production. The show was amazing and everyone involved did an excellent job at making the awards show memorable and exciting for all.

The Night Continues with a Banquet to Celebrate

The night didn’t end there. Following the awards show was a banquet at another venue where team members and their significant others celebrated the night together. The food was amazing, the dancing floor was energetic and the good company and conversations were unforgettable.

Image Above (Photo Credit: Impact Photo): The GreatAmerica Marketing Team celebrates the
night together at the reception banquet after the awards show.

As an intern, I was so impressed by everything that went into this special night for GreatAmerica employees. This may have been my first year, but I will say that GreatAmerica put another successful Annual Employee Awards Banquet in the books!

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Tags: culture, events
Category: Personnel

About The Author

Taylor McDonough

Taylor started at GreatAmerica nearly a year ago as a marketing intern and recently accepted a role as a Sales Development Representative at GreatAmerica within the Connected Technologies Group. She plans to start full time after graduating from Iowa State University this spring with a Bachelor's Degree in Advertising.