Plug Power employees take in Gore flick

July 7, 2006

Plug Power Inc.’s CEO Roger Saillant footed the bill to send 231 employees to the movies Thursday.

But not just any movie. Plug employees had a private screening of former Vice President Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” The movie, which is primarily a lecture-style talk on global warming’s impact, was a rallying cry for the Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG) employees who are working on an alternative energy product, fuel cells, in line with the movie’s theme.

Employees filled the Spectrum 8 Theatres in Albany, munching popcorn and teasing one another before the film started.

“I think I work with some of these people,” one man said, walking down the aisle.

“You don’t work,” came the anonymous reply.

Saillant sat near the back and peppered people near him with environmental facts.

“He’s amazing,” said one employee, out of Saillant’s earshot.

“There will be a quiz afterward,” chimed in another.

There was little joking after the film that showed global warming as a growing problem, melting the glaciers, threatening to raise sea level to a point that would displace or kill millions. Gore said he was on a mission to spread the word about global warming for decades. He has hopscotched the world with his message.

People leaving the theater said the movie was poignant for them.

“I was quite moved,” said Charlie Mirella, 51, who’s worked at Plug for three years. “I have a 9-year-old daughter. I’m more concerned about her future.”

He said the movie changed his perspective about his job.

“It makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing,” he said. “It’s either a job or a mission. It switched today to the second.”

Kathy Johnson, 54, said the movie was great.

“It’s something more people need to hear and take action to,” said Johnson, who’s worked at Plug for seven years. “It’s not political. It’s a life issue. It’s not a matter of any individual company succeeding, it’s a matter of global success.”

Outside the theater, Saillant said it was worth paying the $6.50 per employee, and the time lost from work, to get the employees pumped up.

“This is inspirational,” he said. “We’re working on something much bigger than a job. We’re part of a mission. The couple of hours of lost work is hugely offset by the inspiration and commitment of the people.”

Saillant said the movie reiterated the themes he’s been preaching since taking the helm at Plug more than five years ago.

“That’s what’s talked about,” said Kevin Riordan, 29, who’s been at Plug just six months. “If you don’t believe in it, it’s tough to stay at Plug, there’s that much of a culture, peer pressure, push behind it.”

Published July 6, 2006 by The Business Review

Source: bizjournals.com, Yahoo

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