As HOMAGE celebrates our big 16th birthday, we can’t pass up an opportunity to celebrate one of the most beloved members of the team: the HOMAGE VW van. After all, what would a super sweet sixteen celebration be without a sweet set of wheels? From Pride Parades to smoked-out 420 photoshoots to very special deliveries for contest winners, the HOMAGE van has done it all.
The van made its first appearance at HQ around 2011, after our founder Ryan Vesler purchased the rare automatic version of the classic VW Transporter on eBay. “The original windshield was cracked,” Ryan recalls. “The original owner didn't want to replace it because he would lose his National Parks stickers.” After a windshield upgrade and a few other tweaks, the van was ready to roll. “I remember the day it arrived at the office,” says Inventory Planner China Gentry. “We all piled in and Ryan drove us to lunch playing ‘Big Bad Wolf' by Duck Sauce. He even asked a few people along the way if they knew the way to Woodstock.” Groovy, man.
Like your great uncle Jerry, the Transporter is beloved, but difficult. The gas gauge doesn’t actually work, and the battery is, shall we say, unreliable. “Before Pride one year, I spent all Friday charging the van with my car for the parade the next day,” says Director of Marketing Operations Mark Jaworski. “I came in on a Saturday, started the van up and drove it across the street to get gas. But when I went to start the van again, nothing. Two women who were heading to Pride wearing rainbow snakeskin cowboy hats spent the better part of 90 minutes trying to jump the van, but to no avail.” Rolling with the punches is part of good van ownership.
Life with the Transporter can be unpredictable, so it’s best to dress for the occasion. “At the Bexley Fourth of July parade one year, we got the van there, but as soon as we were in line to go, it wouldn't start up,” says Senior Manager of Ecommerce Ben Jones-White. “Rather than sitting out of the parade, we decided to take turns pushing it the entire route. Once you got it going, it was fairly easy, but I was so sweaty and tired after!”
Exact figures are…murky, but the number crunchers in HOMAGE’s Finance Department estimate the van’s maintenance costs have far exceeded its original purchase price.
But despite the challenges, the Transporter has made some truly magical moments happen at HOMAGE. Mark Jaworski remembers a very special 2013 Pride parade in the old Transporter: “When we turned north onto High Street from Nationwide, there was nothing quite like seeing so many wonderful people lined up to support the Columbus LGBTQ+ community from the top of that hill. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the haze coming off the street was just your classic, picturesque summer day. I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment and how special it was.”
Thanks for the memories, VW Van. We won’t forget you as we move into adulthood. And maybe for our 18th birthday, we’ll pick up a DeLorean…