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Good work earns a trip to the cash machine, where money flies

Samantha Ponder of Brandon grabs for fake cash this month as it blows around a phone-booth-size machine used to award extra cash for good work at National Title Network.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Samantha Ponder of Brandon grabs for fake cash this month as it blows around a phone-booth-size machine used to award extra cash for good work at National Title Network.

Samantha Ponder recently went to work wondering how she would pay for new brakes on her car.

Her answer came in the form of National Title Network's Cash Machine, which resembles a bloated booth.

The 23-year-old rubbed herself down with an antistatic dryer sheet, an old trick to maximize her chance at snatching up to $2,500.

Not many company bosses toss $2,500 into a cash machine to reward employees for hard work. National Title Network chief executive Paula Pautauros does it 12 times a year, giving workers 30 seconds to grab as many bills as they can. The record haul was $978 at the 2-year-old firm.

It's a small price to keep employees happy, dedicated and motivated, Pautauros said, adding: "I think most companies would rather line their own pockets. If you keep employees happy, you have less turnover."

Ponder captured her 30-second money grab by landing the most nominations from her peers in April.

She cupped her hands just above an opening in the machine. Her peers smiled and wished her luck. Pautauros flipped the switch.

Cash rained.

Other employees counted down when the timer hit 10 seconds.

Ponder then grabbed the bills sticking on the glass. Suddenly, the money fell to the inside of the machine as time expired.

Pautauros started counting.

"I've got a $100," she said. "We have a $50."

Ponder of Brandon smiled. Pautauros tallied $328.

Ponder could pay for the brakes.

"I'm very happy," she said at her desk. "I love my job."

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markapuente.

Good work earns a trip to the cash machine, where money flies 04/16/11 [Last modified: Sunday, April 17, 2011 2:10am]
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