A Brief History by John Walczyk:
Over the years of working at Webfitters, I realized software development is hard. It is technical, invokes a lot of concentration, and it is difficult to simply stay put in your seat (at least for me). So, when we moved to our location on George Street in Green Bay from our former De Pere location, I had some extra space to fill. A ping pong table was the perfect answer. Although I never played much table tennis as a kid, I thought it would be a good fit in our office. Anyone can play, you can carry on a discussion during a match, and it is a conversation starter for clients.
Over time, most of our staff embraced the table and organized small inter-company tournaments. Soon, we were opening windows and doors in the winter trying to cool off from our out-of-shape bodies trying to be somewhat athletic. To speed up the matches, I ordered two more tables and soon became a little pong mecha. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to have cold adult beverages with my friends, I began having after-hours events with whoever wanted to show up. A friend, Mike Roemer (who is an area commercial photographer), has a thing for the word palooza. He puts it after everything: rib-a-palooza, family gathering Turba-palooza, fry-a-palooza, and so on. We soon began calling our get-togethers 'Pong-A-Palooza', and thus, a brand was born. It’s not all that original, but what the hey, it’s fun to say.
Meanwhile, I was very fortunate with consistent growth of Webfitters, so much so that the tables had to go to make room for more people. My pong adventures subsided ... until I had an idea I thought could be a big win. You see, in my past life I was a funeral director with my father and brother. Often times I am asked if I miss that industry and I always say, I miss helping people. I enjoyed the chats, life lessons learned, and the sense that I was truly helping. I come from a long line of entrepreneurial charitable folk and I needed to do something.
Those who know me will tell you I am not a runner; nor am I a “walk for this cause” and “spin for that one.” I am a fun-loving, ‘hope to put a smile on your face’ guy. Then, it occurred to me; I could start a traveling table tennis fundraising event. Bazinga, I could do what I enjoy and raise money for great charities.
Pong-A-Palooza is a traveling ping pong experience with the majority of proceeds donated to charities. Since its inception, the plan has grown to corporate events, table sponsors, and eventually a small fleet of mobile smilemakers. This is my way (the Webfitters way) to give back since we are fortunate enough to be able to share.
Thanks to our friends for making this possible!