We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris King and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, what do you attribute your success to?
I think for us, the success of our brand, and our own success comes from who we are at our core; we are our brand. In a lot of ways, I think just being our authentic selves is what drives our business’s success. When we first started Next Adventure, we knew there was a need for what we have to offer our local communities. Being who we are; adventurous, caring, fun, authentic, pragmatic, communicative, and knowledgeable about the Central Coast has been the biggest factor of Next Adventure’s continued growth. People often tell us that they enjoy working with us because we are easy to talk to and work with–and that lets us know we’re doing things right!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was in the hotel industry for nearly two decades before I made the jump into the wine industry. I was born and raised in San Luis Obispo and worked as a part-time night auditor at a hotel in Pismo Beach while I was finishing up school. Soon I found myself managing my own hotel at just 25 years old. I had an amazing career in the hotel industry, and met a lot of amazing people during that stage of my life. When I met Don in 2012 and made the move to the Lompoc Valley, I knew the hour-long commute would need to end sooner or later, but it was worth it for me to get to go home to my love every night. After commuting back to Avila Beach to manage my little hotel by the sea, I realized that it was time to make the switch and get a job closer to home. I took another hotel job which taught me very quickly that my time managing a 24-7 365 day a year business was no longer what I wanted for myself. I put in as much time as I could and when the time was right I made the move into the wine industry, which was something that I was always passionate about. At first, it was a part-time gig as a Tasting Room Host at the Dierberg Star Lane tasting room in the Sta Rita Hills, and soon thereafter became a full-time job for me as Hospitality Director at the Dierberg Family’s private estate in Happy Canyon. Don and I actually started Next Adventure around the same time I started working for the Dierberg Family. I think I learned a lot about myself leaving a career I had had for nearly twenty years, I also realized that I was unhappy with my job for a number of those years. I don’t think I could have ever made the plunge into starting my own business if I hadn’t already taken the leap from my comfy career path and trying something new at 35 years old. I realized being happy was my responsibility, and that if I wanted to live the life I envisioned for myself, I would have to take some big steps, and make some big changes. I also found myself in taking these risks in my career. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t tied to a hotel 24-7, 365. My days off became just that, days off. No more 3:00 a.m. phone calls that a boiler had burst, or 7 pm text messages telling me the night person just called in sick and I would have to work a double with no sleep. I was free to live my life from 6pm on just like everyone else.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man, this is just testing my concierge chops. While I love my hometown of Lompoc, I spend most of my time exploring the entire Central Coast as a whole. SLO and Santa Barbara Counties are home to some absolutely incredible spots and I try to get out of my bubble whenever possible. Okay lets start with the easy one; Jalama Burger at Jalama State Beach–easily one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon. Grab a burger, a cold beer, and watch the waves! It’s honestly one of my most perfect days. If I’m feeling like I need a little arts & culture, the Great American Melodrama Vaudeville Review in my hometown of Oceano is probably one of the most unique things to do here on the Central Coast. You’ll leave with sore abs from laughing! Lately, one of my new favorite places to explore has been the Santa Ynez Valley. Grabbing a coffee at Queen Cup, a cheese and charcuterie board from the Lucky Hen Larder, and heading over to Carhartt Winery Tasting Room in Los Olivos for a tasting is my idea of a great day.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I truly feel like our community is at the core of our success. While we didn’t know what to expect initially, we found out very quickly that our friends and families were willing to support us however they possibly could. Soon after purchasing our first shuttle we had jobs pouring in from friends in the wedding industry, friends in the wine industry, friends in the hotel industry. Our community seemed to rally around us, and each time we worked a job someone would pass on our card to their friends and colleagues. It was amazing to us how quickly our friends and neighbors took note of what we were trying to accomplish and wanted to make us as successful as possible. One person I think helped us the most was another tour company owner named Mark Chumley. Mark had been in the tour business for over twenty years and was constantly offering us advice, and would help us do larger jobs whenever possible. Not only was Mark a great mentor for us, but we were eventually able to send him enough business that he was able to buy a brand new touring coach for his company. It felt so good to hear him say that we had helped him grow his business too.
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