Company: Hughes Network Systems.
Local locations: Germantown, Gaithersburg, Shady Grove.
Number of employees: 1,250 locally; 1,650 internationally.
Juanita Fowler has been working at Hughes Network Services since 1980, and she has a collection of uneaten chocolate bars to prove it.
The most recent piece of milk chocolate, which she received for her 31st year at the company, is in her file cabinet at work.
The rest, though, are at her home in Gaithersburg.
“They’re all still in their boxes, sitting in a refrigerator in my basement,” she said. “I’ve never eaten any of it. I don’t know why, I’ve just never had the urge.”
The satellite Internet services company gives employees a chocolate bar every year on their anniversaries.
“People say it’s the best chocolate they’ve ever had,” said Michelle Pearre, assistant vice president of human resources. “It’s become one of those traditions that you just don’t want to stop.”
The 4 oz. chocolate bars are imprinted with the company’s name and delivered in small gold-colored boxes.
“The package is so cute that if it was your first time getting one, you might just think you were getting a piece of jewelry,” said Rosemary Samuda, an executive assistant at the Germantown-based company.
Hughes Network Systems receives quarterly shipments of chocolate from a vendor in Rockville. They are distributed to managers, who generally present the chocolate to employees during team meetings.
“A lot of people eat it right away,” Samuda said. “But me, I just sort of look at it and say ‘what a nice little square of chocolate’ and save it for my grandchildren. It’s very, very good top-of-the-line chocolate.”
Kathy Beauchamp, a senior human resources coordinator, says she sometimes eats the chocolate but always keeps the packaging. She currently has 23 boxes.
“They’re scattered around everywhere,” Beauchamp said. “I found one in my nightstand just the other night. It’s a nice little acknowledgment.”