Every Friday, the Portland Tribune puts questions to a prominent - or not so prominent - local person.
In Portland, a city where flannel knows no cultural boundaries, Luis Trybom is betting on the rich. He's betting on them coming out of their closets full of blue jeans and fleece and starting to spend and act like the wealthy in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Trybom, only 28 but already with five years experience working as a concierge at downtown hotels, has set out on his own with Solutions!, which he calls a custom concierge service company.
No longer content providing help to hotel guests, Trybom, reared in Portland and a graduate of LaSalle High School in Milwaukie, wants to be the personal assistant to Portland's wealthiest residents. And he's pretty sure Portland's elite are ready for him. 'Everybody enjoys being pampered,' he says.
Portland Tribune: What's the craziest request you've had so far?
Luis Trybom: 'It's 10 o'clock and I don't have a suit or shoes or anything and I want to pop the question to my girlfriend.' The first thing I asked him was, 'What size suit do you wear and what size shoes,' because everything was closed and his luggage was lost. I gave him my suit and my tie and my shoes and they all fit him.
Tribune: And did he propose?
Trybom: He did. And his wife now says that was an absolutely beautiful tie.
Tribune: Other difficult assignments?
Trybom: Trying to find flowers at 3 or 4 in the morning, or trying to check on somebody's house when they forgot to leave the key.
Tribune: Are there flowers available in Portland at 3 a.m.?
Trybom: You can go to the distributors. He was going on a road trip to Klamath Falls and he needed flowers. I knew a person who owed me a favor in a distribution center on the east side, drove down, picked up an armload of flowers and ran them back to his house.
Tribune: Ever been stumped?
Trybom: I enjoy the challenges, when they say, 'There's probably nothing you can do about this,' or 'This is impossible, but … .' Underpromising and overdelivering is one of my favorite things to do.
Tribune: An example of overdelivering?
Trybom: Making pompoms at 10 o'clock at night. A (hotel) guest comes down and says: 'I want to know if we can get any pompoms. The kids want to cheer their father on for his first Portland marathon.'
Everything's closed. Generally that's pretty much it - I'm sorry, we tried. But 20 minutes later I had fashioned pompoms out of garbage sacks and flashlights and the next morning the kids were thrilled. And I have to admit, they were pretty good looking pompoms.
Tribune: You're not looking to serve a wide swath of Portland residents, are you?
Trybom: We want to serve the executives and well-to-dos. Every product or service has a tier; I want to service the top level.
Tribune: How much are we talking for your services?
Trybom: It depends.
Tribune: You don't have an hourly rate?
Trybom: I charge anywhere from $85 to $100. It can be for an hour or a custom service. There are others who charge significantly less, but I pride myself in the belief that you get what you pay for. It's the attention to the details that matters.
Tribune: Attention to details?
Trybom: A wife's 50th birthday and we're in charge of planning the event. We have to know exactly what her favorite music is, what exactly is her favorite color, her favorite candy, what she wishes the ambience to be like.
Tribune: Has there been much of this kind of service in Portland until now?
Trybom: Unheard of. It's absolutely new.
Tribune: What makes you think you'll make it?
Trybom: This is a real prestigious lifestyle to have, and it's a dime a dozen on the East Coast or in Hollywood. And Portland has money. We're on the cusp of this kind of cultural explosion, where everybody's trying to match what the East Coast does or mimic Hollywood. We just happen to be equipped and ready for (it) when this explodes.
About a year ago a client of mine flew me to Thailand with him, first class, to avoid having to pay an extra baggage charge. Which I thought was funny because the ticket alone was $2,800 and he put me up in a hotel room and everything - to avoid a $120 extra-bag charge.
Tribune: That doesn't make sense. Why would he do that?
Trybom: He was just into having a good time and relaxing. It was kind of a running joke, 'I don't want to deal with this.' Basically it was his way of throwing money around.
Tribune: This was a Portland resident?
Trybom: Portland, yes. And very well to do.
Tribune: So apparently we have them, people willing to spend large amounts of money frivolously?
Trybom: Oh, money's not an issue here in Portland.
- Peter Korn