“There are so many stories in this room,” said CEO John Holt to a small audience in his home. “We are alive to create stories, and tonight we’re here to honor the story we’ve written together and share our anticipation about the stories we have yet to write.”
It was the night of July 30th, and the Cobalt DieHards were assembled at Holt’s Seattle home with their husbands, wives, partners and friends. Holt’s wife, Susan, and his daughter Gemma were also there, mingling with the crowd and chatting. Some of the people in attendance have known the Holt family for many years, and there was a feeling of camaraderie, fellowship and friendship in the air.
The DieHards are Cobalt’s fifty longest-serving employees. For the past three years, Holt has recognized this group and celebrated their determination and loyalty, with a gathering in his home where they are all made welcome. Collectively, they represent well over 600 years of service, and each of them has been with Cobalt for at least ten years.
In the room that night were some of Cobalt’s most dedicated employees, like Lisa Koutek and Scott Sabo, who’ve been with the company since its early days in a tiny office in downtown Seattle. Also in attendance was Mike Villanueva, the “rookie” DieHard, who’s only been with Cobalt for ten years and was attending his first DieHard celebration.
Those at the party were treated to delicious pulled pork or vegetarian sandwiches from the pig-shaped lunch truck Maximus Minimus and delightful ice cream from the Molly Moon’s ice cream truck. The combination of Theo Chocolate and Salted Caramel ice cream soon became a sought-after favorite as the evening progressed.
As the sun set and the night came on, John invited everyone to come into the living room where gifts awaited. Some received what has become the ten-year gift for Cobalt employees, an elegant Tiffany’s glass bowl (cobalt blue, of course). Those who had served the longest, the top ten DieHards, had already received their bowl in previous years, and they got a gift certificate to Seattle’s Tilth Restaurant. John recognized each person individually and pointed out how many things have changed, everything from hairstyles to relationships. For each person, there was a different story.
The food and the gifts were very much appreciated, but we all knew that wasn’t the point of the evening. It was what John said, the stories we’ve created and the stories yet to be told. Over the course of the evening you could see small groups of people chatting like the old friends they are, recounting shared stories and plotting new ones. That’s why we were there.
With the ADP merger in place, this was most likely the last official gathering for the DieHards. The merger provides an opportunity to build new communities and customs; but because it takes a community to have a company, it’s likely the DieHards will keep celebrating on the side. They’ve got more chapters to write.
Photos by Melissa Satterwhite