Sunday, August 03, 2008

Another Amazing Week-End

It was the late 1970s. Our new friends had just moved to our town and joined our church. Our girls (their third, our first) became best friends. He joined choir. He worked with his dad and his brother in a company they had begun. They were making evaporative coolers for trucks and tractors. One night, in the middle of choir practice, he told DC that they were going to change their product - they were going to make lawn mowers. Thus, so inauspiciously, began a wonderful success story. A giving glory to God story.

Walker Manufacturing began a journey that has been amazing. The mower production began in 1980. It took 20 years to produce the first 50,000 mowers. It took only 8 more years for the 100,000th to roll off the production line. (DC has worked for them as a buyer for the last 8 years, after he was unceremoniously "downsized" - don't you love that term - by his employer of 27+ years). This last week-end was the Family Reunion - the second one. Have you ever heard of a company having a family reunion? For the second time, Walkers invited anyone who had ever worked for them, worked for them now, sold a mower, bought a mower, distributed mowers, used a mower, wished they had a mower, to come and celebate the 100,000th mower. Approximately 3000 people showed up - from all over the world.

It was HOT. But they came and they stayed around for 2 days, some 3. There were things for the kids to do, there was an obstacle course (the same young man won for the 4th time in a row), there was great food, there was entertainment on the stage as people visited, there were balloon rides and helicopter rides, there was a talent show, there was the driving of the 100,000th mower driven in a parade of sorts by the woman who won the drawing for the privilege. There is Walker Ware to purchase. There was a free pancake breakfast for everyone, there was a free brat dinner for everyone, there were DC's clients - many suppliers - there with giveaways. There was a flag raising, with flags from all over the world showcased - those countries where Walker mowers are sold.

The mower of honor looked like all the rest to me, but it has a special paint to make it stand out from the crowd -

There were many wonderful prizes given away by the customers - some little fun stuff, and some amazingly generous gifts. Walkers give away FIVE of their mowers - mowers that sell for $7000-$15000. You had to be present to win - and many people had gone swimming to cool off and lost their opportunity. Can you imagine their chagrin when they learned this?? Here's a picture of 4 of the 5 with our friend, the CEO of the company. (If you have any grass in your town, you'll probably see these mowers being hauled around by lawn care companies - we have so many young guys around here who start their own lawn mowing companies and eventually can afford one or two of these mowers - they have long trailers and haul them around town - start looking and I'm sure you'll see them. Their claim to fame is that they do a 360 around trees, etc., and have a great grass collecting system).

The evening finally began to settle in and cool off. Three concerts were scheduled -- none of the artists were familiar to me, but they were a hit with the hard-working employees. The first guy (I didn't get a good picture - the lighting was bad at that time of day) was Mike Snider and his band - they were a very talented group of pickers and strummers - with Mike's humor thrown in. He was also a very talented harmonica player.

The second concert was with Pam Tillis - I'm sure some of you know of her and are probably fans. I remember hearing of her dad, and for some reason remembered that he has a stuttering problem, but that's all I knew about him. Pathetic, huh? But Pam is a charming performer, even though country is not my favorite. She gave us a good concert.

Then as darkness settled down, the third star took the stage - I really had never heard of him, and I have to say he was my least favorite act - but the workers really got into his program. His name was A*ron Tipp*n. It was fun to watch the crowd, but I was getting pretty tired and was happy when he finished his performance.

One interesting sidelight of his performance - every concert he shows his work ethic roots and puts together a bicycle for Toys for Tots. This time he decided to help put together a Walker mower. The already assembled deck was carried onto the stage and each of the shop supervisors brought his individual part of the mower to complete the job - they finished putting it together in a matter of minutes. Then he got to call the winner's name and he autographed the mower. It was quite exciting. Wouldn't you know - my battery died at this inopportune moment.

The closing ceremony was a great highlight - first of all, 100,000 firecrackers were set off - I wish I had timed how long it took - it was amazing.

Then the grand finale - a wonderful fireworks show. We'd been there since 7:30 a.m. and it was now 9:30 p.m.. but it was a great day.

But that wasn't the end. Remember - this is a very unusual Christ-centered company with devoutly Christian leaders. They wanted to end the week-end with a worship service for those who were able to stay around. (Thank you, Lord, for the nice cloud cover for most of the service!) DC's quartet sang - the two Walker guys are on the right.

We had a great time singing together with a local church's praise team - in fact, one of the members of the team has a new Walker mower of his own, because his wife's name was drawn.

The patriarch and matriarch of the Walker family are wonderful role models - he had a stroke a few years ago and is unable to talk, but he sat there with her in one of the carts that get people around the large property - tears flowed from many of us as their daughter shared their testimony with us.

The message was brought by a professor from Colorado Christian University and it was a true blessing - this man was a gifted communicator. What a wonderful time we had throughout the week-end.


Sammy said...

Wow, Dawn. That's really incredible that they put together such a jam-packed day for so many people. And it looks and sounds like it was such a fun time! What kind and giving people they must be.

Have a great week,

Nadine said...

That's incredible. I've never heard of a company doing that.

I love the balloons.

Linds said...

I can't help but think that this is the way God intended things to work. What a wonderful company to work for!

Maine Mom said...

Sounds like a fun, eventful day! I would have liked to see the lawn mower being put together in a matter of minutes. That is amazing!

Needled Mom said...

What an incredible success story and so well told by you. It is so wonderful to hear about good things happening BECAUSE of good people.

That was quite a party. Wish I had been a member of the family there - despite the heat!

That colorful hot air balloon is giving me an idea for a quilt...hmmmm.

Christa said...

What a fun and amazing time, it sounds like.
Prayer for you and yours.
God bless

Penless Thoughts said...

What a wonderful showcasing of a good company. I love it when the owners share their success with their employees. I will pray for Kristen!!!

Diane@Diane's Place said...

I know and like all the country performers. I especially like Mike Snyder and wondered what had become of him. I haven't seen him in several years.

Sounds like a full day for sure.

It's good to know that the company founders are giving credit where credit is due - to the God who has blessed their company through the years.

Praying for Kristen - I'm pretty sure I know what's on the agenda for her.

Love and hugs,


Tammy said...

What a great event thier company put on!
(And when we were in VA we went to some kind of event and saw Pam Tillis, too! Yep, I remember her dad, as well!)

Speaking of VA, come over and check out Marriage Mon....I have a walk down memory lane! :)

Oh, and I will pray for Kristen!

Nancy said...

What a great celebration and it is a blessing that you could be a part of it all. I missed out on the fact that DC was in a quartet... that's great and what a talented family you are a part of- including YOU!

You and Kristen have my prayers. Keep me posted!

Anonymous said...

An awesome story. Thank you for sharing it. v from n. Idaho

Penless Thoughts said...

Dawn, On your comment on my clothesline. I put a bit of fabric softener in the rinse water cycle and the towels were not stiff at all. I, for one, do not like the stiff towels. I did my second load today, 2 table clothes and 15 napkins, from the family birthday dinner. I love hanging the clothes!!! Probably won't like it so much when it's cold but even the 103 degree temperature we are having isn't bad because I'm not out there that long and the clothes sure do get dry quickly.

Hootin' Anni said...

Prayers for Kristen.

Hi Dawn...I read your blog a lot sometimes, without commenting. I know, I know...I should, but most days if I don't make a lot of online time, I just read what's happening in blog friends' lives and move on to another of my favorites on my list.

But, today I have to mention that my daughter is a Walker by marriage [now divorced tho]. And they were from your area?!!! Whoa!!! Deja vu. LOL

Have a super Tuesday.

Mimi said...

looks and sounds like a great and wonderful day was had by all!!!

I am still praying for Kristen...

groovyoldlady said...

Now THAT looks like fun! Makes me wish I had a mower.

Wait. I DO have a mower. His name is Mulletman!

I didn't read this 'til Tuesday. Does God honor sfter-the-fact prayers? I hope so, 'cause I'm a-praying!!!!!!

Barb said...

What a wonderful company to work for. It's amazing they'd put together a whole day of fun like this for so many people.

You know, it always amazed me that Mel Tillis stuttered so badly he could barely talk, but when he opened his mouth to sing, you'd never know it.

Kristen is always in my prayers. I won't stop praying for her until I hear her life is completely settled and back on the right track again. I know she's going through a very difficult time right now.

PEA said...

Hello dear Dawn:-)

I'm back from visiting my boys and am now trying to catch up with everybody! Oh wow, what a wonderful day you had at the Walker Family Reunion!! I'm sure it was a very long day with the heat but I think it's amazing the company puts on this family reunion and is so generous with their giveaways! I really enjoyed looking at all the photos...they really thought of everything, right down to the worship service:-)xoxo