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Key Takeaways:

  • Make your planning sessions a mix of work and play.
  • Getting together off-site allows new connections to be made.
  • If you can make it happen, VIP is definitely the way to go.

How We Celebrated Our 20th Anniversary

✈️ 24 flights
🏴󠁵󠁳󠁣󠁡󠁿 6 states
🌎 3 countries
📅 2 days
One Epic 20th-Anniversary Celebration

To celebrate Gunderson Direct’s milestone anniversary, President Mike Gunderson suggested we do something monumental. We hadn’t hosted an annual meeting off-site since 2019. In fact, our 2020 retreat was scheduled for the weekend Covid was declared a global pandemic, and the United States began its shutdown. After extended discussions and numerous rejections, it was decided that Gunderson Direct was going to Hollywood!

The agenda for the weekend was a planning session, a celebratory dinner, and then a VIP experience at Universal Studios Hollywood. From start to finish, it was indeed a remarkable event. Our team has doubled in size since our last retreat — including employees that work across the country and worldwide — so the logistics of making this happen required a lot more legwork than any prior event.

With the help of my administrative team, we worked out flights, lodging, and reservations for all 25 attendees. The celebration started for my team when we received confirmation that every employee would attend.

As the organizer of the trip and the head of HR at our agency, this was especially gratifying to me. First, it was great to see the employees excited and to share in the festivities recognizing our success over the years. Also, it was the very first time in over 3 years that our entire organization would be in one place at one time. Many of our staff had never met face to face, and the thrill of connecting live with Zoom co-workers drove enthusiasm for the entire event.

The planning session was an engaging afternoon full of excitement for the company making it to 20 years and our plans for the future. It also acknowledged how far we’ve come — from a one-person show to an agency that employs 25 people, has five departments, and is a leader in the industry. Each department head was able to speak on their team’s initiatives and give shout-outs to their colleagues on a job well done. It was an afternoon of thoughtful discussion, friendly discourse, and laughter.

That evening’s dinner allowed us all to mingle through a delightful cocktail hour and a family-style meal. We enjoyed delicious food, exuberant toasts, and the collective anticipation of the Universal Studio VIP experience awaiting us the next day.

Universal Studios did not disappoint. To my HR colleagues — if you ever have the opportunity to host 25 people at a theme park (which happens to be the exact right amount of bodies to fill a boat on Jurassic World and a bus for the backlot tour), I highly recommend you book it! The Universal Studios VIP experience allowed our team to enjoy much of the park in a single day. And the variety of rides and attractions meant you were always walking or waiting with someone new. It was a beautiful day, and despite some turbulent tummies (thank you, Harry Potter), the overall consensus was that the entire event was indeed monumental.

The planned events and the spontaneous interactions of being away from our desks, in person, and enjoying a theme park with our colleagues made for an unforgettable off-site. We extend incredible gratitude to our entire team for stepping away from their families and homes, postponing their work tasks, and joining us for a once-in-a-lifetime celebration.

Cheers to the first twenty, the next twenty, and beyond!

Gunderson Direct has long-lasting relationships with some of the country’s largest corporations, helping them to lower their customer acquisition costs and increase profits using address-based integrated direct marketing programs.

Drop us a line for more information on how our direct marketing expertise can help your business.

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People person. Avid reader. Bay Area born and raised. Managing the office and all of our human resource needs, Jaki wears many hats to ensure the Gunderson Direct team thrives and the agency sees continued success.