It was a frigid November morning at Kinnick Stadium as the Iowa Hawkeyes took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the “Border Battle.”
When Nebraska joined the Big 10 in 2011, WDA Rep Associates — which has offices in Iowa City, Omaha and Lincoln — decided it was perfect timing to host a fun tailgate party for customers.
Kyle Sherlock of WDA said, “The idea of a “Border Battle Tailgate Party” started four years ago tailgating in Lincoln at the first Big Ten game ever between the two neighboring states. It was at the inaugural game that we decided to expand the tailgate party into a full-blown customer event.”
WDA was able to build off of last year’s successful tailgate party held in Lincoln, and hosted by Doug Passmore, WDA principal. This year, WDA secured a block of 54 tickets for the game, and more than 70 customers and associates braved temps hovering around 12 degrees for the pre-game tailgate! Six key vendors helped to sponsor the event:
The vendors helped financially with some of the costs of the event, including tickets, food and refreshments. And Leonard Garron, the Chicago Faucet’s Midwest Regional Manager, drove in to help with some of the duties.
The game was played the Friday after Thanksgiving, and WDA’s Chris Smith and Tony Ceraolo drove in from the agency’s Omaha office on Thanksgiving night to help prep for the tailgate, which kicked off about 7 a.m.
“We had plenty of food and refreshments on hand, including breakfast sandwiches for the early tailgaters, and staples like hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, cookies, snacks and refreshments,” said Sherlock. “But the most popular item was undoubtedly the hot chocolate, with a little Cinnamon Fireball Whisky splashed in to keep warm on a windy, chilly fall day.”
Their customers expressed sincere appreciation in talking about the experience.
Ben Wunderlich, Vice President of Plumbers Supply — "WDA's Border Battle Tailgate was a highlight of the season — connecting with sales reps and other industry professionals over steamy hot chocolate was a great experience! Having their big screen TV set up at the tailgate really got everyone fired up for game time. And the Iowa-Nebraska rivalry served as a great friendly backdrop to an event hosted by a sales rep agency that covers both states in their territory. The appreciation from Kyle Sherlock and his team at WDA was reflected in his effort of going out of his way to make us feel welcome (and fed)."
Jim Balmer, President of Plumbers Supply — “Rivalry games bring a higher level of banter among all involved in every end of the business. Whether it is intrastate rivals — or interstate, such as with Iowa - Nebraska. Since Nebraska has joined the Big 10 Conference and is a regular on the Iowa Football schedule, the level of intensity is growing with each win or loss by either team. Everyone enjoys getting together to support their home team.
“I have been an Iowa fan for over 50 years, and a season ticket holder since graduating from Iowa Law School in 1976. It was great to get together at the tailgate and predict what we expected to happen at the game. The hot drinks were most appreciated as it was bitterly cold the morning of the game. The game as exciting and crowd was fired up, until Nebraska came back and beat Iowa. I think most of us did not mind the temperatures when Iowa was winning, but when Nebraska came back to win, we felt even colder. Great atmosphere because each team needed a win to make their season successful. Unfortunately, Iowa ended up on short end of the score.
“We have been doing business with WDA for at least 30 years. We are very appreciative of companies, such as WDA, who is willing to put forth the effort and expense to show they care about us beyond specific business needs. Relationships are still important and we value the fact they wish to have a relationship with their accounts outside of the normal parameters of work. The best part of the tailgate was seeing old friends, and making new ones.”
Dan Houser, Commercial Sales for Plumb Supply — “We are in our infant stages of this rivalry, but I think this will definitely be the new Iowa border battle for years to come. It was great when Nebraska joined the Big 10. Adding another power house to list, made the conference that much tougher.
“Game Day in Iowa City is a pretty special experience! Friends, family, rival Husker fans, and of course a great business partner in WDA. WDA provided top notch service to their customers, as well as some of the local contractors that were invited to attend.
“With the temperatures in the teens and a lot of wind, we all piled layers of winter gear on for the game — and most of us were sticking the gel handwarms in our shoes, gloves and hats to keep warm!”
“Being at Kinnick Stadium on game day is always electric. When Back In Black starts blaring over the sound system, the 70,000+ in the stadium just erupt. The game appeared to be well in our favor half way through the 3rd quarter. From then on, it wasn’t quite as pretty. Nebraska stormed back to tie the game up to end regulation, and then the Husker momentum just carried them through overtime, giving them the 37-34 victory.
“I have personally been with Plumb Supply Company going on 20 years, and have relied on WDA, and their excellent customer service since day one, when I worked at the service counter. WDA works hard at going above the board, providing superior customer service. This starts with the office personnel, and works its way all the way to the top. You can always get a friendly, educated answer when you call WDA. The Iowa / Nebraska tailgater was just icing on the cake. They solidified their relationship by rewarding the suppliers and contractors with this great opportunity.”
Leonard Garron, Regional Manager at Chicago Faucets — “The game itself is fantastic. It’s such a rivalry game and always lot of excitement. It’s an event that draws fans with a lot of passion, which makes for fun environment.
“Being a sponsor and participating in this event is an excellent opportunity for us to meet with wholesalers, contactors and engineers in a less-formal atmosphere. It’s a nice way to get together and send that message of thanks for their business. It’s really an enjoyable day that’s a lot more about friendship and conversation than business.
“I’ve gone to a lot of football games, growing up in Columbus, Ohio, attending Baylor, and having a son who plays. But this was literally one of the most brutally cold days I’ve ever spent in the stands. It was a nationally televised game so there were a lot of commercial breaks! I was layered up with 2 pairs of socks, boots, thermal underwear, polyester athletic shirt, down vest and winter coat. And that wasn’t enough! But the game was exciting — except the ending, if you’re a Hawkeye fan — and it kept the energy up. It literally came down to the very last minute to determine who would win.”
Sherlock wrapped up the experience: “These special annual events help build and solidify our customer relationships and partnerships with vendors. It is nice to see everybody away from work, enjoying each other’s company, with good food, drinks, and lots of stories, laughs, and spirited discussion before and after the game. It’s the great friendships and relationships that you develop over the years, through events like this, that make it such an enjoyable, rewarding industry to work in.”