"I Want Ojai Businesses To Succeed." An Interview with Erik Wilde, Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce President-Elect and Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe Broker
by Reynold Akison
Erik Wilde, Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce Board Member and Chamber President-Elect for 2017, is a licensed Real Estate Broker. Erik has been involved with the sales and leasing of commercial real estate since January of 2005, starting his career with Pacifica Commercial Realty in Santa Barbara, California. At Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe Erik sells residential homes, estates and ranches throughout the Ojai Valley and Ventura area.
Erik was born and raised in Ojai. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California – Marshall School of Business, where he received a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship.
Erik received the Coldwell Banker President’s Circle Award (for being in the top five percent of sales internationally) in 2012 and every year since. He was selected the 2013 Realtor of the Year by the Ojai Board of Realtors. Erik serves on the Board of the Ojai Valley Youth Foundation. In 2017 he will also serve as the President of the Ojai Board of Realtors. He has been a member of the Ojai Valley Chamber for six years and a Board Member for three years.
Contact Erik at Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe at 805-830-3254; or email him at: email@example.com. His office is located at Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe, 727 West Ojai Ave., Ojai, CA 93023. Website: http://www.wilde-wilde.com.
Ojai Business Journal: What would you like to accomplish in 2017 as Ojai Valley Chamber President?
Erik Wilde: I want to help local businesses grow by continuing to expose local businesses to the people living in the Ojai Valley. This goes beyond tourism. I believe the peer-to-peer relationships established through an Ojai Valley Chamber membership are invaluable in promoting a local business or non-profit.
I would also like to increase the Ojai Valley Chamber membership and revive the Ambassadors Committee. I became an Ambassador after I joined the Chamber. Ambassador Committee members help to make new Chamber members feel welcome and recruit new members. The committee was active until about two years ago, and it’s time to bring it back.
OBJ: Are there any Ojai Valley Chamber events or changes coming next year that members should know about?
Erik: Next year’s Chamber Gala will be important and should be exciting for members. We’re celebrating a milestone - the centennial of our town’s official name change from Nordhoff to Ojai.
We’ll also be electing new Board members next year to replace several Board members finishing their terms.
OBJ: What are some of the business opportunities Ojai Valley Chamber membership brings?
Erik: Chamber mixers are still one of the best networking events we offer our members. Besides being fun, mixers provide a way for a member to let other members know about their business and services. The Chamber Gala is also a networking event where business can be done.
Ojai now has several wine tasting rooms that will bring more visitors to Ojai and will provide many of our Chamber member businesses with opportunities to increase the number of their Ojai visitor customers.
OBJ: What are some of the problems and challenges you see facing Ojai Valley Chamber member businesses?
Erik: Traffic control and parking in downtown Ojai always seem to be a challenge. Many of our local Ojai Valley residents won’t venture downtown to shop on weekends because of the traffic and parking issues. These issues are not easy to solve and require more study by our city government.
The problem of the ongoing drought is also a challenge that all of us living in the Ojai Valley must face. If drought conditions persist we might have to make drastic changes across the board to see to our water needs. I recently had a client refuse to consider buying a property in the Valley because of the water situation.
The Short Term Rental question is another challenge for Ojai and many of our members.
OBJ: How can Ojai Chamber members manage these challenges?
Erik: There are no easy solutions to Ojai’s traffic problems. A state highway bisects Ojai and the Valley, Ojai streets are under the jurisdiction of the City of Ojai, and many Ojai Valley streets and roads are overseen by Ventura County. All three entities will have to work together to solve our traffic problems.
Ventura County has proposed a ballot measure for a half-cent transportation sales tax increase, that if passed could bring additional funds to help the City of Ojai and Ventura County fix and maintain streets and roads. If passed the half-cent sales tax increase is projected to raise $3.3 billion over the next 30 years. The City of Ojai and the Ojai Valley Chamber both support the measure.
OBJ: What’s the Chamber’s position on Short Term Rentals in Ojai? Do you think they hurt or help the local economy?
Erik: The Chamber has repeatedly spoken at Ojai City Council meetings concerning the issue of Short Term Rentals, and we believe that strictly regulating STRs through city ordinances and zoning restrictions is the best solution.
I think STRs both help and hurt the local economy - it’s a complicated situation. STRs provide temporary lodging for Ojai visitors during legacy events like the Ojai Musical Festival and the Tennis Tournament when traditional visitor lodging is at capacity.
But STR’s remove long-term housing in a community. As a community we need to provide more housing in Ojai, including affordable housing. We also need to maintain public school enrollment levels through permanent family residency in the city and throughout the Valley.
I think that we have a duty to maintain the dynamics of Ojai and its history and stay true to the spirit of Ojai; STR’s move Ojai in a different direction.
OBJ: What’s the Ojai Valley Chamber’s position on the ongoing lawsuit with Golden State Water Company?
Erik: The Ojai Valley Chamber Board supports the removal of the Golden State Water Company in favor of the Casitas Municipal Water District to provide for the City of Ojai’s water needs.
OBJ: What do you see as the number-one benefit of Ojai Valley Chamber membership?
Erik: I think providing exposure for businesses and non-profits to the Ojai community is the number one benefit of Chamber membership. I would rank networking with other Chamber members as a very close second. It’s critical for businesses and non-profits to let the public know what they have to offer.
OBJ: How can someone get more information about the benefits of becoming an Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce member?
Erik: Those interested in finding out more about Chamber membership should go to the Chamber website: http://www.ojaichamber.org, where they’ll find a list of benefits, information about the Ojai Valley Chamber, a Calendar of Upcoming Events, a Member Business Directory and more.
A non-member can attend two of the monthly mixers as a guest of the Ojai Valley Chamber to experience one of the main benefits of Chamber membership. Non-members can contact the Chamber office at 805-646-8126 or email at: info@OjaiChamber.org for more information.
OBJ: What has serving on the Board of Directors of the Ojai Valley Chamber meant to you?
Erik: For me serving on the Chamber Board has meant making a commitment to the Ojai community. I was born and raised in Ojai. I think the Ojai Chamber helps keep Ojai - Ojai. I think it’s important to belong to a group that helps to keep local businesses alive. I know many Ojai business owners, and I want them to succeed.
OBJ: Any news about your business that you would like to share with our readers?
Erik: Year after year my business as a Coldwell Banker Property Shoppe broker continues to grow.
OBJ: Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t covered?
Erik: It’s important for Ojai residents to be involved in Ojai. By getting involved in one or more of the many non-profits here in Ojai, a person can participate and play an active role in maintaining the Ojai community.