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Sales team’s failure to hit goal earns them free trip to tundra

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Employees of the Just Born candy company are enjoying chilly Fargo, N.D., instead of balmy Hawaii after corporate sales goals weren't met. Here Dave Bayha, left, Josh Halperin and Jim Costas stop for a photo at the Fargo Theatre.
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A 24-employee sales team from a Pennsylvania-based candy company misses its annual goals and is given an all-expenses-paid trip to Fargo, N.D., rather than Hawaii.

FARGO, N.D. » There is an old saying in the sales business: Always be closing. Here is a new one: Always be freezing, if you do not sell enough.

The Bethelem, Pa.-based company that makes Hot Tamales candy offered its sales team an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii if it met its annual goals, and a trip to the nation’s arctic tundra if it didn’t.

The Just Born team did not meet its target and, yesterday, about two dozen salespeople gathered inside the 19-story Radisson hotel — the tallest building in this frozen city.

Outside, the temperature was 7 degrees. The ground had 2 feet of snow.

Not exactly Hawaii: Honolulu was sunny, and a comfortable 82 degrees.

"Fargo is not what you would think is one of the greatest locales in the United States and technically we didn’t make our year," said Dave Bayha, a Just Born manager. "It was somewhat of a punishment."

Would Bayha rather be in Hawaii?

"Um, sure," the Phoenix resident said, laughing again.

The team had a good year, increasing sales from the previous year by 2 percent, said Josh Halperin, the company’s director of U.S. sales. The goal was a 4 percent bump.

That earned them the trip to Fargo. Some had to go shopping for real winter clothes, such as furry bomber hats, long underwear and parkas.

They are trying to make the best of it, with a little humor.

They planned tours of two North Dakota wineries and a winter extravaganza with a sleigh ride, tobogganing and hot toddies around a fireplace inside a chalet.

On their first night in town, they went to the VFW in West Fargo for a spaghetti dinner. Five bucks a plate, all you can eat.

Afterward, they hauled an old-fashioned popcorn machine into a conference room and watched a movie. "Fargo," of course. Yeah sure, you betcha.

"Watching ‘Fargo’ in Fargo is just one of those random bucket list things you get to check off," Halperin said. "It doesn’t resemble the community at all," he said, laughing. "Maybe a few of the expressions."

The 24 employees from Just Born have been popular among the locals, too, handing out care packages with treats like Peeps, Mike and Ike, Peanut Chews and Teenie Beanie.

Next winter, if the group fails to reach its goal, they will get an all-expenses paid trip to Rapid City, S.D.

"As a team, this is something we will never forget," Bayha said. "Twenty to 30 years down the road, when we see each other, we’re going to say, ‘Remember Fargo?’"


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