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Supervisor Giuseppe "Pippo" Balsamo, right, discusses the wine sold in the wine and spirits section of his Navy Exchange at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily.

Supervisor Giuseppe "Pippo" Balsamo, right, discusses the wine sold in the wine and spirits section of his Navy Exchange at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

NAVAL AIR STATION SIGONELLA, Sicily — Guiseppe “Pippo” Balsamo discovered the secret to productive employees: Love what you do, and those whom you supervise will follow.

“I believe in what I’m doing, and I love my job,” said Balsamo, recently named the Navy Exchange’s 2006 Associate of the Year. He beat out 14,000 other Navy Exchange employees worldwide for the honor.

A positive attitude is infectious, he said, but not just with the 10 to 20 employees he supervises. Customers also notice, and he frequently has quelled their frustrations and even anger to resolve problems.

He puts himself on equal footing with those he supervises.

“I don’t think of them as my employees. They are my co-workers,” said Balsamo, 43, who started working at the Navy base’s exchange 20 years ago as a warehouseman.

He was promoted in 2004 to department supervisor and led in the expansion of the store’s “Salute” wine and spirits section, which grew from selling some 10 varieties of wines to hundreds, said Christina Giordano, the store’s general manager.

The honor earned Balsamo a $2,000 bonus.


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