Sunday, February 23, 2003

Good News

Men face-off in bid to grow the best beard

The votes are in, and a winner has been chosen in the beard-growing contest at the Graybar Electric Co. in Queensgate.

But there are sore losers and demands for recounts.

Rich Young, a quotations manager, was chosen the winner - but it was a close shave. One vote.

"It was a great thing," Young said while taking ribbing from the other 17 guys in the contest, which helped raise money for other employees in need.

Chris Tallarigo won for best effort and went away smiling with no complaints.

The loudest gripes about the voting came from Young's best friend, Bob Sieckhaus, a sales representative.

"The voting was rigged," Sieckhaus joked. "I want a recount. I am going to ask the people in Florida to do a recount."

Young took pleasure in Sieckhaus' complaints, saying: "It takes skill to grow a good beard. It is not all about the length. It is about character."

Young and Tallarigo received plaques. The other contestants received certificates, which read: "A prestigious award for facial hair growth under pressure." The contest ran Dec. 31 to Feb. 21.

Paul Queen, manager of customer service, said most of the beards will come off now.

"I know my beard will come off as soon as I get home," Queen said."This was a great effort, and we had fun. We raised $800 for the Graybar Family Foundation. We had some people send checks who don't even work for the company after they read about the contest in the newspaper."

The foundation, which was started a year ago, helps families of employees who face difficult times.

The female employees at the company did the voting, but didn't seem to have any set rules on selecting a winner. The voting apparently had nothing to do with the length of the beard because Young's was short.

"It was pretty much left to our own personal choices," said Bonnie Samson, a customer service representative. "I voted for the beard that I thought looked the best, but it wasn't the winner."

Beverly Morris, a payroll clerk, said Young's beard had more personality than the others.

"I liked his because it was Victorian," she said. "It had mutton chops, and I think it had more personality than the big full beards."

Bob Wissel, a customer service supervisor, thinks he should have won because of the efforts he put into campaigning.

He had signs posted around the office and stairway. Among them: "Bob Wissel, endorsed by Blackbeard, Abe Lincoln and all members of ZZ Top."

A secretary said the business received about 15 calls the day of the voting, urging a vote for Wissel.

"They all sounded like the same voice," she said.


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