MedImmune Inc. executives picked a lush setting for the company's sales staff to gather for its annual meeting: the El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa in Puerto Rico, with cliffs overlooking the ocean, plenty of golf, scuba diving, windsurfing and six pools.
Then the executives told the sales staff to bring some clothes they wouldn't mind getting fairly dirty.
"I thought we were going to do some team-building stuff, where we play paintball or do some other survival stuff outside," said Kevin Schroeder, a sales representative in Baltimore.
Last week, after their first big meeting, Schroeder and 400 other salespeople for the Gaithersburg biotech firm were told to pick up a box lunch and meet at some buses, which drove them about 10 miles to a small, poor fishing village and dropped them off near a dilapidated school.
Their task: a makeover.
They painted, did landscaping and cleared land for better water drainage. They spread at least 100 bags of mulch and laid down 25 truck loads of sand. Even MedImmune chief executive David M. Mott rolled up his sleeves and went to work.
"It was a huge job," Schroeder said. "It was hot. But nobody cared. Everyone worked really hard."
Officials from MedImmune, which makes pediatric drugs, said the project was a logical extension of their business of helping children. Schroeder said the work immediately connected the salespeople and energized them for a week of scientific and marketing updates.
"We are devoted to pediatrics and prevention of harmful illnesses to kids," he said. "Every child that we can touch, whether it be fixing a school or preventing a respiratory virus, it ties in to why we go to work every day."
After working more than three hours at the school, they returned to the resort, to find the entire hotel staff outside and cheering.
"I still have blisters on my hands," Schroeder said, a week after the work was over, "but I don't really care."
RLJ Buys Three Hilton Hotels
RLJ Development, the Bethesda real estate investment company founded by former Black Entertainment Television chairman Robert L. Johnson, has purchased three hotel properties from Hilton Hotels Corp. for $72 million in cash.
RLJ purchased the properties -- in Phoenix, Cleveland and Anaheim, Calif. -- through its urban lodging fund, which has more than $315 million in investment commitments from 10 institutional investors.
The development company and the lodging fund now own a total of 18 hotels.
Two More Tech Firms Coming
People generally assume that Montgomery County's main tech industry is biotech, but there are dozens of other tech companies located here.
Now, two more are coming.
The county has landed Intelsat General Corp., a subsidiary of Intelsat Ltd., the commercial satellite operator that employs about 850 people in the District.
The subsidiary, which works with contractors providing satellite services for U.S. and NATO operations, has moved from the District to 6550 Rock Spring Dr. in Bethesda, where about 40 employees occupy 18,000 square feet of space.
Besides Intelsat General, a startup called Proxy Aviation Systems has decided to base its headquarters in Germantown. Proxy is developing unmanned aircraft systems for various branches within the U.S. military and Department of Homeland Security. The firm currently employs about 20 people.
Proxy's technology is designed to manage the flight of up to 12 unmanned aerial vehicles flying in formation.
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