-- Kitty Martin, owner of home-based agency Travel Bound in
suburban Washington, entered and won a Royal Caribbean
International-sponsored contest called Extreme Home Office
Now, anybody whos
seen Extreme Makeover: Home Edition knows what to expect to see
when visiting the makeover site: Cheering crowds, a bulldozer or
two and the leader of the makeover team, Ty Pennington, running
around with a bullhorn.
But as I pulled
into Martins drive, I found the house eerily quiet: No hyper TV
personalities dashing about, no couches being tossed out of
windows. I was beginning to think I had the wrong address, when
Joanne Letsche, one of Martins part-time agents, appeared and
ushered me to the den and adjacent office.
things became very extreme.
The den area was
covered with brochures, files and file cabinets. People poured out
of the office like clowns from a car, each bearing another cabinet
or part of a desk. Everyone was jabbering and gesturing: Where
should I put this? Whats that? Where does this go?
In the midst of
the chaos was Martin at her desk. She was on the phone, discussing
Germany with a client.
between Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and the Royal Caribbean
version is the team.
designers are Domingo Vega and Michelle Suarez, who usually belong
to Royal Caribbean Cruises newbuild department.
These two, who
usually spend their days thinking about 3,000-passenger cruise
vessels, were now redesigning a room barely big enough for two
desks, let alone two people, a wall of brochures, a large printer
and an immutable, fireproof filing cabinet.
The goal this
week is to [remove] all the clutter, make it more organized, Vega
said between hauls. To sell more, of course.
Its hands on,
Vega added, just like the TV show.
Rather than call
in ABC-TV to help with the details, Royal Caribbean enlisted more
of its own employees, including Richard Delgado, manager of sales
automation. Pamela Patterson, manager of sales strategy, was
moonlighting as a carpenter, vacuum cleaner and pep rally leader.
She also had helped to choose the contest winners from about 1,000
The office is
Martins, but it was Letsche who entered the contest in December by
writing a poem set to A Visit from Saint Nick ( Twas the night
before Christmas, and all through the mess ...).
And were so
excited, Letsche said now, surveying the carnage.
Back in the room,
Martin was on the phone again, talking about Greece, as Patterson
hammered at a desk drawer.
Each winner --
one from each Royal Caribbean territory -- received $1,000 in
mad-money from the team, plus the teams help, to
And each agents
needs were different.
In Martins case,
it was the clutter. The tiny office had been in paper-jam mode
since March 2004, when she brought her brick-and-mortar business
But what Cruise
Planners agent Tim Kangas needs is a roof over his head. His home
office, in his basement in Sharpsburg, Ga., has an unfinished
ceiling and floor.
makeover] could improve my sales because my office would be more
professional; Id feel better about bringing clients to my office,
he said by phone.
is slated for August. And he has a little extra mad-money: Cruise
Planners presented him with a bonus $500 for
I returned to
Martins house on Day 2. Not much difference -- still a zoo.
Reinforcements came in the form of Keith Lane, the director of
sales for the mid-Atlantic region, and Ken Muscat, the regional
vice president of sales for Royal Caribbean
everyone donned their black Royal Caribbean International Extreme
Home Office Makeover Winner T-shirts and got down to
Lane and Muscat
puzzled over what to do with the stacks of brochures, while the
rest of the team studied Martins fireproof file cabinet, where her
ARC ticket stock is kept.
The cabinet is
enormous, but the team, not knowing what was inside, hadnt included
it in their extreme new floor plan. We thought we could get rid of
it, Vega said.
pushing and pulling, they decided to remove it to the
Muscat and Lane
had been taking out bags of trash. The sales director and the veep
were now interim sanitation workers, helping out the garbage men. I
put the garbage in the truck, Muscat said. It was heavy with the
pieces from Home Depot come out of the flat-pack boxes. Letsche
looked at the new desk and cabinet. Im going to start working more,
she said enthusiastically. Martin, as though on cue, raced out of
the office: Print that in the article, she said.
The team worked
through Day 2 and into Day 3. There was a lot to do: Assemble the
second desk and hutch, put together the brochure cabinet, organize
the brochures and put everything in its place.
By the end of Day
3, the house was quiet again. The Extreme Team had left Maryland
and was on its way back to Miami. Even Letsche had gone home to
Virginia. Only Martin and her family were left.
The office looked
wonderful. The carpeting and walls are still the same -- and
nothing got tossed out of the window. But for $1,000, Martin has a
new set of office furniture as well as a freshly organized wall of
and Celebrity brochures are displayed prominently at eye
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].