Cecil Exum is about to celebrate his 80th birthday, and he can count “longest-standing employee” for Marriott among his life achievements.
An omelet maker at the Marriott Crystal Gateway hotel in Arlington, his creations are legendary. Some call him an omelet artist, and have been enjoying his omelets for many, many years. With agile flips and twists of the wrist, he prides himself on keeping his work area clean and his omelets done just right. Not too fluffy, and not too runny.
The employee cafeteria at the Marriott Crystal Gateway hotel is even named after him – Cecil’s Lounge.
It all started when Cecil was 19 and moved from North Carolina to take a job serving up soft drinks and made ice cream creations at Hot Shoppes, a root beer stand run by the Marriott family. The next year, Marriott opened their first hotel, the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel and Exum was immediately brought on as a dishwasher with $30 weekly pay.
He worked his way up through the ranks and eventually found just the right spot for himself, as a buffet chef in the corner omelet station at the Crystal Gateway Marriott property. The lanky 6 foot 2 man has happily been turning out omelets ever since.
Meanwhile, the small family run Marriott business become a behemoth of a company. As the longest-standing Marriott employee with 61 years under his belt, Cecil is on par with just one other person – JW “Bill” Marriott Jr, who also started work there full time in 1956. The 85 year old chairman retired a couple years ago as chief executive.
Cecil is still going strong, and arrives each work day by 5am after a one-hour commute. Not a drinker or smoker, he attends church each Sunday, loves fishing, and spends his vacation time with his extended family. Legend has it that Cecil has never even taken a sick day.
Having seen companies all around him focus on cutting employees to get by with the bare minimum and employees jump from company to company, Cecil enjoys his stable job and remains a reliable employee. The thought of retirement crosses his mind occasionally, but he loves what he does.
What an amazing guy, and great example of hard work, responsibility, great attitude, and taking pride in what you do.
I hope I get to stop in and meet Mr. Exum some day, and try one of his famous omelets.
Happy 80th Birthday Cecil!