|Caryl Dierksen received Epcon’s Lifestyle Ambassador Award.|
The Epcon home building franchise honored its franchise builders and team members during the company’s annual conference Feb. 2-5, but a retired English teacher from Woodstock, Illinois, stole the show.
Caryl Dierksen, who lives in the Maples at the Sonatas community, received Epcon’s Lifestyle Ambassador Award for her efforts to attract residents to the community she loves, welcome new neighbors, and plan parties to build friendships among neighbors. After receiving the award, she took the opportunity to thank Epcon for designing her home, and franchise builders Jamie and Jonathan Wilcox for building her neighborhood. Here are some of the highlights from Caryl’s speech:
Thank You, From Everyone
“Thank you to everyone here for my home. I don't care what you do for your company, you are either doing something that directly benefited me as a homeowner or you're doing something that directly benefits other homeowners in other communities.
When word got around my community that I was going to have the privilege of coming here today, a couple of my neighbors said almost offhandedly, ‘Well, be sure to thank those people.’ So, on behalf of all of your homeowners, thank you very much for our homes and communities.
Thank you to the Wilcox staff, who are actually like neighbors in my community. When someone is sick, they ask what they need. If we can't get our Christmas lights up, someone who works there will help. When the people who aren't there on a daily basis stop by, it's like old home week.
And, of course, thank you to my neighbors, who deserve to share this award with me.”
|Maintenance-free living in a clubhouse community.|
“A friend of mine, a teaching colleague who retired a couple years after I did, was the very first buyer in a brand new Epcon community. I knew very little about it until she started describing things. Kathy is her name and she is the most organized, disciplined, practical person I've ever met.
I said, ‘Well, Kathy, you must have done quite a bit of research before you signed the contract for your new home.’ She kind of looked at me, and she said, ‘Caryl, I bought it off a video. All I did was watch a video and I bought it.’”
Longing for an Abbey
“When I invited myself out to see Kathy's new Abbey model, I fell in love with it. She filled my head with dreams of owning an Abbey. At the time, it didn't seem possible for me, but I never forgot the Abbey.
After some time, I saw that an Epcon community was beginning in Woodstock, Illinois, just five blocks from where I was living. The community was originally owned and developed by the same people who developed Kathy’s community, but very soon into the process, Jamie Wilcox bought the community.
I started to go to the community and look at the homes again.”
|The Abbey exterior.|
The Worst Kind of Home Buyer
“I help out in the Maples at the Sonatas sales office sometimes. And I used to be the kind of buyer that I hate now when they come in: the buyer who is only there for recreation.
I would go look at model homes for fun. I always said to the salesperson, ‘I want to go look by myself. You don't have to come with me. I know you're busy.’ Then I would often sneak to my car without checking in at the end. I didn't want to fill out forms. I was really, like I said, the kind of person I can't stand now.”
Young, Knowledgeable and Sincere
“Eventually this really nice salesperson, Jon, came on staff and I finally decided I would let him show me around the community in person. He was wonderful. He was young and knowledgeable and sincere. I figured that was dangerous.
I went home and came back another time to look. Jon wasn't there, but Jamie Wilcox was. He introduced himself, and he took me to see the homes. Sure enough, he was young and knowledgeable and sincere and I thought, ‘These guys are really good.’”
|The Abbey kitchen.|
Falling in Love
“One time, we were walking by the Abbey and Jon said to me, ‘You know, this one has had a price reduction. Why don't we go in and look at it?’
As corny as it sounds, I fell in love with it immediately. It was wonderful. Of course, I couldn't let him know that, because he might call me.
We walked around and looked at other models, but I couldn't concentrate on them really because I was still thinking about the Abbey. So I went home, thought it over, called my brother (the math major) and asked, ‘Can I afford to buy this?’”
We talked about it. In fact, he came for mom's 90th birthday party and I took him to see the Abbey. He and his wife loved it. We gave mom her 90th birthday party on a Sunday, and that Monday I went and signed the contract.”
The Friends I Didn’t Think I Needed
“It was in 2010 when I bought and moved. I had lived in Woodstock ever since I left college so I had a lot of friends and a lot of acquaintances. I honestly wasn't thinking, ‘Oh boy, I'm going to go and make a whole bunch of new friends,’ because I felt like I had my friends.
Then, when I moved there, they were so darn outgoing and friendly that I couldn't help but make more friends. Even though I thought I didn't need a new community or a new group of friends, I started getting involved. I guess I got carried away.”
|The community clubhouse; a place to gather with friends.|
Home Sweet Home
“I still get excited thinking about going home to my Abbey. Last week, as we drove down the street into our entrance, one of my neighbors said, ‘I feel good every time we drive past that sign into our neighborhood.’ And I said, ‘You know what? I do, too.’
It's such a good feeling being home, and I mean that with all the connotations of home.”
Where Life Comes Together
During the buying process, Jon gave me a blue Epcon coffee container with the phrase Where life comes together on it. When I first started looking at Epcon homes, I thought, ‘You know, that's a pretty darn big promise, my life coming together.’
I knew I was looking for a new house, but I thought my life already was together. But it turned out that it got more together because of my neighbors and because of everything that's happened to me since I moved.”