How to join this not-so-hidden Mayo Clinic club? Don the plaid

Mar. 29—ROCHESTER — Within the inner employee network at Mayo Clinic, there's a very visible club that has its members sporting the same tan, plaid suit jacket and brown and blue striped tie for their staff directory photos.

They refer to themselves as the "Mayo Clinic Distinguished Gentlemen of Mayo Clinic," an intentional redundancy. The group was jokingly started by Mayo Clinic colleagues Zachary Fogarty, Briant Fruth and Drew Seisler while thinking of something fun to do for their staff directory photos in 2016. After the three floated a few ideas, they settled on the dated plaid that Fogarty had on hand for them to wear.

If you take a look at the staff directory, 29 photos feature the suit and tie. The founding members continue to receive requests from Mayo employees in Rochester and now other campuses around the country to don the look and join the club.

"We've tried to keep it pretty light-hearted, pretty easy-going," Fogarty said. "To bring a few other people on board, I think that's been fun. It's good to see the positive response."

What started as an inside joke among the three soon became a recruiting campaign, with Fruth and Seisler actively searching for others who would be interested in taking part.

Their biggest pitch came incidentally during an all-staff meeting that put the photos up on a large screen during a PowerPoint presentation.

"The three of us had our pictures up there, boom, boom, boom, all wearing the same jacket," Fruth said. "And that sort of sparked conversation amongst colleagues and some people. I don't know if they were serious, but they were like 'Hey, we should do that,' and we were like, 'Yes, you should.' So that's how it kind of started and yeah there was maybe some informal recruitment, but people thought it was pretty fun."

The suit remains in Fogarty's custody since he was the one given it by a former colleague. It hangs in his office available to all who are up for their staff photo.

For Fogarty, the part he finds the most entertaining isn't the requests he receives from within his department, but the random requests he receives externally.

"I always got a kick out of the random emails that I get from people saying, 'Hey, I heard about this and I'm due for my picture,' or, 'Hey, what's going on? I just saw three pictures that all look the same,'" he said. "So it's kind fun to have people just sort of stumble onto it."

Seisler said once their inboxes started receiving those types of emails, the recruiting pitches weren't needed as much.

"I think it definitely reached a critical mass where enough of us had the photo that it kind of just took off on its own at that point," Seisler said. "We sort of stopped looking for people that might have their photo coming up, and we just kind of sat back and it spread by word of mouth on its own."

Fruth said he envisions one day opening the Mayo Clinic staff directory and seeing nothing but plaid.

"People seem to be interested in wearing it, so yeah, I'm hoping that there's a day that the majority of Mayo Clinic employees are wearing the plaid," Fruth said. "I'm envisioning 30,000 or so employees wearing the coat and tie."

While the Mayo Clinic Distinguished Gentlemen of Mayo Clinic are 29,971 new members away from hitting this mark, the three said they continue to see growing interest.

Women are also welcomed to join the group, they said, but those recruiting efforts haven't gone so well, with the only woman to wear the outfit being Seisler's mother.

"Most of the time, the females decline our offers," Fruth said. "They don't feel like wearing the suit and tie, but if there are any out there that want to join Drew's mom, we'd love to have them."

As the suit gains more attention and interest, the three are optimistic about their chances of expansion, seeing interest from the Florida and Arizona Mayo Clinic campuses.

But the biggest question of them all still lingers. Has the suit ever been dry-cleaned?

"I'm not going to confirm nor deny that," Fogarty said.