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A high-flying party PDF Print E-mail
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Written by JOHN MORTON   
Wednesday, 23 August 2017 16:34

Fun and games and thrilling rides make Tom Didier’s summer bash for 300 a lot like a day at an amusement park

    You could call it a party, but that probably won’t cut it.
    An event? Well, you’re getting warmer.
    What Tom Didier hosts each year is best described as nothing less than an extravaganza.
    “Yeah, it’s quite the bash,” Didier said in one of those understatement-of-the-century moments.
    Saturday was the 10th installment of the annual appreciation party for customers of his real estate business on his family’s Town of Port Washington compound along Highway KW. The lineup of activities was dizzying, fueled by the fact that guests were given the opportunity to go on rides over Port Wshington and the countryside in Didier’s airplane.    
    Also available were a pig roast; oceans of beverages; a musical performance by singing standout Windy Bohn; a petting zoo complete with chickens, goats and sheep; pony and horse rides; tractor rides; a merry-go-round;
a zip line; giant slide; monkey bars; trampoline; three-station disc golf course; water-balloon sling shot; plus rides on the family’s newest acquisition – a fire truck, complete with working hose.Oh yeah, and a fireworks display to wrap it all up.
    OK, now exhale.
    “It’s a lot of work, but it’s so well worth it,” said Didier, whose family has spanned three generations with their local Re/Max United agency. “We have as much fun as our guests.”
    And no detail is taken for granted, he said on Friday as he and his team scrambled to get ready. There is grass to cut, lights to be strung, planes to be washed and chairs and tables to be scrubbed.
    “We put in about 13 hours each to get ready, and there are seven of us,” said Didier. “There are plenty of little things to think about. For example, I hired my daughter’s friends as parking attendants.     That’s a big challenge in itself.”
    That’s because the party often attracts more than 300 people. Thankfully, the giant airplane hangar on the property makes for a perfect pavilion.
    “My family erected that back in 1978, and right away they realized it also made a good place for parties,” Didier said. “So that tradition goes back a ways.”
    But Didier’s company took some time to make the most of it. For his first 12 years in business, he went the conventional route of customer appreciation by presenting closing gifts.
    “There were gift certificates, gift baskets, movie passes, and then we went with customized knife sets that had the client’s name on them,” he said. “But it was so labor intensive once we started to grow. I always had an assistant running out to customize a closing gift.
    “We thought about it and said, ‘How do we get a client for life? We feed them and entertainment them – that’s how.’ It’s a perfect way to keep relationships going year after year.”
    And it has worked beyond expectations, Didier said.
    “I’ve had many people tell me, ‘We heard that if we list or buy a house with you, we get to come to your party,’” Didier said. “We knew right away the party would be a good way to get referrals. That’s why it’s just not only for customers. We want people to bring their neighbors and friends.”
    And it became a way for Didier to get to know many of his company’s clients with whom he may not have spent much time, because their deal may have gone through one of his team members.
     “I’ll meet someone and not necessarily recognize them, but when they give me their address I’ll make the connection. And I’ll probably also remember the sales price,” Didier said with a laugh. “Then, I’ll get the chance to really get to know them and let them know how much they’re appreciated.”
     How many people does Didier think he’s met over his 22 years in the business?
     “A number? That’s impossible to answer,” he said.
     His party’s big numbers notwithstanding, Didier likes its personal touches.
     “I enjoy watching the kids on the ponies. My mother is in charge of that and a lot of kids have never been on one before. It’s as meaningful for us as it is for them,” he said. “And the airplane rides are so special. A lot of people have never been up in one and can’t thank us enough. For some, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.
     “Then there are some who chicken out at the last moment. That’s fun to watch, too. All of it is very memorable.”
     Is it part of what makes Port the tight-knit community it is?
     “I think so,” Didier said. “I can’t see this working in a place like Milwaukee. It’s nice to know we have a way of actually getting to know our clients. It’s a unique opportunity, for sure.”

 
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