Xerox officials said they held an house last Sunday at their employee training facility on Rte. 7 in Loundoun County because they felt isolated from the community and wanted to show curious residents what is inside the $70 million complex. If it was designed to impress local residents, the open house was a success that other firms might - pardon the pun - find hard to copy.
residents went away giving rave reviews. Xerox officials said 1,700 persons attended.
Many families toured the Xerox facility much as they might an amusement park. Dressed casually, they waited in lines, followed a path marked by blue balloons and arrows, listened to short talks by Xerox employees, locked over exhibits and experimented with machines set up especially for them.
For 11-year-old Chris Manthos of Lessburg, the contempotary architecture and machinery of the Xerox training facility represented the future, and he liked it. "Its just like 'Satr Wars,'" he said. "I think it's cool because it's just so modern - and that's how the world should be."
Manthos made copies of his hand on Xerox machines set up in one of the center's may classrooms. One girl copied her T-shirt, and a couple copied their 16-month-old daughter's face.
The most popular stop on the tour was a machine making parchment type copies of the declaration of Independence and three other historic documents. One woman waiting in line for her copies asked a Xerox employee how much one of the copying machines would cost.
"Two thousand dollars, or $150 a month to rest one," replied Barry Parker, manager of the basic sales school. "Do you want one? Have I got a deal for you!" he added with a big grin.
When it is not used for copying hands, faces and historic documents, the Xerox facility is used to train sales, service and management employess from around the world. Employees attend one-to-six-week training sessions where they are taught by instructors from the firm's sales and service staffs.
The training center occupies only 40 acres of Xerox's 2,265-acre reservation along the Potomac, but it operate as a self-contained city. It is composed of five six-floor "living/learning" centers each with classroom, student room and common facilities. An indoor-outdoor commas connects the two main buildings.
More than 30.000 students have trained at the facility since it opened in June, 1974, and up to 1,1014 student can be handled at any one time. Students are taught in small groups in classrooms equipped with videotape and closed circuit television. In addition, there is a large recreation complex used by both students and staff.
"It seems like a wonder of the world," said Elwood hall of Leesburg. His wife Martha said simply, "it's very beautiful, and I'm glad we have something like this in lessburg.
Robert R. Sohl, director of the center, characterized Xerox as "sort of the mystery employer of Loudoun County" and said the open house was designed to satisfy residents' curiosity. Xerox employs 250 persons at the center, and another 250 works there for the company that holds the food and housekeeping contract.
Visitors said they welcomed the look at Xerox, both as neighbors and as potential customers and employees.
"We've enjoyed the hospitality and the fact that they opened up. It's a fine gesture to the neighbors of Leesburg. I can't imagine a large corporation opening up like this. They don't look like a big institution," said Rev. Gene R. Stuckey, pastor of Holy Trimity Lutheran Church in Lessburg.
"If this is indicative of whatever else Xerox has to offer, it's first class. it makes us all want to come out and go to class for three weeks," said Dale Adams of herndon, touring the center with his wife, two daughters and a neighbor.
Parker said amny visitors asked about renting rooms and class space in the facility and getting jons with the company. "About 50 per cent of them want to know how to become a sales representatives either for themselves or their kids - most of them for their keds," he said.
"A lot of people were here because they just wondered what was inside of this place," Parker said."they saw deer, pionas, bars - things they never thought were out here. You can't imagine what's over a fence until you go and see - and that's what today was for."