3  🛏   2.5  🛁  🗝 CHARMING SAN ROQUE HOME

It was wonderful to help our clients achieve their real estate goals by selling their home quickly and efficiently in order for them to purchase a new home in Santa Barbara.  If you or anyone you know is looking to buy or sell, please keep us in mind. Your referrals are our priority.




Business of the Month: Tax Edition


This February business of the month we wanted to not only have a featured business but, businesses that can give you advice this tax season. We all know taxes can cause a headache if you don't have the right person assisting you in your filing, so, we asked 3 of our top CPA's "What is your best advice for everyone this tax season?" Find their answers and contact information below.


Certified Public Accountant
Nasif, Hicks, Harris & Co., LLP

Best Advice: Keep calm and trust your tax advisor! Not only are taxpayers dealing with filing their 2017 tax returns right now, they are also trying to understand the new tax law effective January 1, 2018 and how it will impact them. Contact your CPA, or engage a CPA if you do not have one, to take the anxiety out of the situation and to help guide you in making tax-efficient decisions for yourself, your family, and your business. We are here to help every step of the way.

You can contact Elena at: 

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Tax Senior Accountant
Barlett, Pringle & Wolff,LLP

Best Advice:  My biggest piece of advice for everyone this tax season is to get their information to their tax professional sooner than later. There are several reasons why taxes aren’t something to procrastinate until the last minute. By filing early, or providing you information early, it will give you a head start on determining if additional forms or other information is needed. Additionally, it allows you to plan payments accordingly. Many people forget that on top of your income tax due on April 15, the first quarter estimate for 2018 is also due. Furthermore, we have recently seen a surge in identity theft involving fraudulent tax returns and one of the best ways to combat that is to file your return before someone else can file it for you. Finally, this past December Congress passed major tax reform. Providing your information early allows your tax professional to start planning ahead for 2018.

You can reach Abel at:
 (805) 963-7811

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Certified Personal Accountant
Dennis Clark, CPA

Best Advice: Get your information to your accountant as soon as possible! Yes, the deadline is April 17 this year. But, the closer it gets to this date, the longer you will have to wait to get your return from your accountant (and your refund from the government!). And, if you end up owing tax, you don't have to pay it until the due date, and it is better to know about the payment sooner rather than later. So, only good things happen from getting all your info in early!

You can reach Dennis at: 
 (805) 963-2470






 It was an honor to represent our wonderful clients on the sale of their beautifully remodeled Goleta home.
+ Exceptional location backing up to Blueberry Hill Greenbelt
+ Carrara Marble Counters
+ Custom Cabinetry
+ Stainless Appliances
+ Open Floor Plan
+ Abundant Natural Light
+ Built-in Speakers
+ Brand New Professionally Landscaped Yard
+ New Driveway
+ Avocado Tree

OFFERED AT $1,015,000
SOLD FOR $1,023,500

If you have anyone looking to relocate to any of our beautiful neighborhoods please keep us in mind. Your referrals are our priority.



Business of the Month: Central Coast Brush Clearing and Consulting



So Chris I know you have a background in the fire fighting industry, tell us how this idea came about?

I began my fire career in 2009 at the Allan Hancock Fire Academy. Upon graduation I spent my first two seasons on Crew 7, a hand-crew based out of the Santa Lucia District Ranger’s Office in Santa Maria. I’ve spend my six season career with the US Forest Service on crews, engines and a helicopter fighting fire across the western United States. 

There are Federal, State, County and City agencies. USFS is federal, CalFire is state, Santa Barbara County is county and Santa Barbara City is city (municipal). The main difference is that the USFS is primarily concerned with Wildland Fire where as CalFire, County and City are all risk meaning they respond to fire, medical, car accidents, hazmat, etc.

I love the thrill and excitement of fighting fire. However, as a career path I’d like to dedicate my time to various entrepreneurial endeavors. I want to carve out my own niche and start my own business that I feel brings much needed attention and value to fire prevention.  I’m currently involved with the Wildland Residents Association (NOTE: - great link to information plus lots of radio shows to tune into w/good local info.) and the San Marcos Pass Volunteer Fire Department teaching fire behavior, fuels, defensible space and other topics I’m trained in.

Having been on numerous fires throughout the state I’ve noticed a lack in Defensible Space and began to wonder why this is an issue. I researched educational material and found plenty. Every fire department I’ve looked at has good information and will even assess properties for free if requested. My next step was to figure out how to get the work gets done. I contacted local tree services companies and asked about defensible space as if I were a homeowner. I quickly realized that although they provide and advertise Defensible Space Clearing on their websites, many were not able to convince me they understood fire behavior and why the work needs to be done other than to remove brush. This is why I started Central Coast Brush Clearing - a Wildfire Defensible Space company ran by firefighters.

I want to be out there educating homeowners the basics of fire behavior and the logic behind Defensible Space. Hopefully I can alleviate the burden of “expensive yard work” and further define and explain the “why” behind the work


 How did you join forces with Chris Willingham from Santa Barbara Tree Care?

Chris Willingham, owner of Santa Barbara Tree Care, was very receptive to my initial line of questioning and was quite knowledgable on Defensible Space. Having 20+ years as a professional arborist I knew this would be a great partnership opportunity. 

Santa Barbara Tree Care is capable of Defensible Space and Fire Clearance services but it isn’t their expertise. Our partnership provides the best of both worlds, Central Coast Brush Clearing has the Fire Clearance and Defensible Space expertise and Santa Barbara Tree Care has the tree care and arborist and tree care expertise. Together we are able to provide our clients a service backed by experience and the know-how to get the job done safely and quickly. 

My goal is to work with Real Estate and Insurance Companies to educate homeowners and implement proper Defensible Space. We focus on properties with large hillsides, homes up and down the 154, Camino Cielo, Mission Canyon, Toro Canyon, Carpinteria to name a few. Where there’s a hill and a house there’s a need.

As of right now we are a crew of four Wildland Firefighters with three to twelve seasons of experience and training in fire behavior, fuel characteristics and first-hand experience fighting fire. Together we bring over twenty years of experience to the job and love every hard working minute of it.


Do you just service Santa Barbara county?

Right now we are growing, Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez are where most of our calls are coming from. I named the company Central Coast Brush Clearing with the intention of serving the central coast from Paso Robles down into Ventura. I spent college years in San Luis Obispo and have plenty of firefighter connections in those areas. With seasonal firefighters all over the Central Coast we are able to provide exceptional service everywhere. 

Would all homes benefit from defensible space or just homes in high fire areas?

There’s always something that can be done to a home. Car accidents happen, power lines fall and there is no shortage of dry combustible fuel around homes in city limits. Defensible Space is as much providing a safe working environment for responding firefighters as it is defending your home. Keeping weak tree branches from extending over access roads, driveways, roofs, chimneys, etc. “Hardening” ( homes is a very important part of Defensible Space. As far as value, our efforts are most effective doing what we have been trained to do quickly and safely on fires - cut fire line and remove vegetation with chainsaws and hard work. 

What’s the process, how can someone hire you and what are the costs?

Anyone can hire us by going to our website ( or messaging us through our facebook page ( Our phone number is listed and I respond to emails, texts, messages, calls and just about any medium people use these days.  Part of our mission is education as well and we are happy to give free assessments for homeowners interested in the conversation. Should they decide to hire us we are very flexible with pricing and work that cater to each project’s needs. Typically a crew of us four, fully self-sufficient, licensed and insured, ready to go ranges from $1,200 - $1,400 per day depending on travel or special needs. Some homeowners just want us to cut and other’s would like everything done. We’re here to fill in the gaps and work within their budget!

What’s the most important reason why home owners shouldn’t wait until fire season?

It’s too hot and typically we are out of town fighting fire! Take advantage of cool winter weather and lower temperatures. We run all kinds of machinery and these engines get hot. Obviously starting a fire is extremely counter-productive and we will actually limit summer working hours or will not work at all on days that are just too hot. Our employees are active and former firefighters so many of us are just too busy to be available during the fire season months of May - November.






Business of the Month: Bea Furnishings

Business of the Month: Bea Furnishings

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So tell us about your background? How did this all begin?

I am from the 805. I grew up in Solvang, and got my AA here at SBCC in interior design. Then I transferred to San Francisco State University and graduated with a BS in Interior Design. After, I explored trades, interior design wasn’t for me. I found it to be a lot of purchase orders and busy work. That was a time where you would turn on TV and there were designers painting walls and chopping wood: things that really don’t exist as an interior designer. I believe I pursued interior design to create uniqueness, and for the actual production of it all. ID was good in the sense that it made me able to do renderings and I those detailed assignments, it was also good for me to learn the architectural background of it all and start to be familiar with measurements.

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SO after college I explored trades and I did some metal sculpture work and some wood work. I loved it all but I found it not to be my calling either. Then I moved back to Santa Barbara with hope that SOMETHING was going to come and workout but I didn’t know what that was. I got a job off of Craiglists, because with these trade jobs, there’s no LinkedIn or proper way of finding the jobs - other than to roam. So on Craiglist I found a job - Todd Gutshall the number one  upholstery shop here in Santa Barbara was looking for an upholsterer, but I responded to the ad asking if I could be an apprentice. To start, he had me doing tear downs which is essentially the bottom position of an upholstery shop. All you’re doing all day long is removing staples. It’s not exciting to say least, but I had fallen in love!- I was STOKED. My mind just went off!

In order for me to learn all the proper things in this trade I was either going to work for somebody else, who had say or control over how much or how fast I learned. In this day and age you hold on to those lower laborers who can shut up and do their job and do it fast. I needed for myself to have control of my learning curve.  And so, I moved to High Point, North Carolina the once furniture capital of the world. I went out the as they had a local technical community college- which is a rare thing- they had a certificate program to get a degree. It was a DIY person’s dream. There was infinite amount of scrap, everyone had their own sewing machines, and you could make anything and everything you wanted. We had bare frames, and there was someone there to answer every question you had, to show you what you should be looking for, the ideal teaching situation really. 

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In North Carolina I got a job with Stickley which is a very renowned furniture maker. They are the creme de la creme of American Made furniture. I was this Jewish California girl with  tattoos just TOTAL opposite of the south, so at first it was a little bit rough. I made the most of it! After that experience I moved to Brooklyn New York because I wanted to experience living the dream in New York, then I escaped New York for Colorado, and I was there for about three and a half years working for some guys who did custom work so I could learn about producing custom frames, and how to make a skeleton of a frame come to life based on a picture or design. Then I worked at a place that does old antique style furniture which was kind of like my master degree program, that was literally a year ago. 

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Now I feel like I am ready to learn the business aspect of it. I think I did about 6 or 7 years of learning this trade and I still have a lot to learn. I am proud of the work I do now and it speaks for itself. I have nothing to show but the work that I do. 

This trade consists of predominantly men - and they have been typically doing  upholstery since before I was even alive. A lot of these guys I met, didn’t want to initially become upholsterers, they fell back on the trade. For the most part who I was and what I was doing was a turn off to most people I’ve worked with. I was an educated woman, who was passionate and excited about something majority saw as labor  with little to know enthusiasm in the work.

You obviously do upholstery, but you also do fabric curation and design furniture. Can you tell me a little more about about that?

So right now it exists mainly as re-upholstery, because I don’t have a wood shop of my own or a carpenter quite yet. How we exist now is just a step towards what I hope it will become. 

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Right now at the typical upholstery shop it’s “okay what do you want, okay here’s what it costs.” You’re in you’re out. I would like to think Bea is a place that you can create character, I love what I do. I want my shop to be inviting. I want people to get into each piece, and have imagination. 

I hope in time I can be able to make some custom pieces I have been dreaming about since I first started working in this trade. I think furniture is way more important than what we make it out to be. Everybody has furniture whether you’re wealthy or you’re sharing a flat with a bunch of people. Everybody has a sofa and everybody sits on that thing. We have all these priorities like car we’re driving…having an appreciation for what furniture we have will slow people down more and make them appreciate their living room more. Right now we have our eyes in our screens but we should pull it in more.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Ooo, definitely other artists, I like to think I am going into this world of design with an expertise. I know that my game is upholstery and to see people work their trade whether it be metal or wood it’s amazing. When I see how well they can do- and how I could maybe put a cherry on top with a tufted cushion in the back. Thats exciting to me. I do hope to have custom furniture very shortly. But I want to make sure that I collaborate. Kind of how we’re working together- you’re taking the time with me I want to take the time with you. It’s a win win. I want to be a team with everybody. 


How does it work if someone wants to work with you? 

I want people when they think of me that maybe they have a chair that needs to be redone of course and they want “cool” I want them to think of me as innovative. I want them to think “Grandpa is turning 70 and he loves boats. Lets make him a boat inspired sofa.”

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I want people to challenge me.  It’s hard to do those things but I love it. I love the learning process. Anybody and everybody can go to my website which I have made super convenient. They can go to that inquiry form and can submit their photo with their ideas and I can get back to them. For now since it’s just me myself and I. I try to do innovative upholstery and challenging projects. There’s infinite possibilities. 

I would ideally like to tailor myself to designers and people with more daring and flamboyant taste. With plans to create my own designs someday, the more I can work with people who are like minded in style, the more I can showcase my work.



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Business of the Month: Direct Relief


Business of the Month: Direct Relief

We were honored to visit Direct Relief headquarters today with their Associate Director of Partnerships and Philanthropy, Dean Axelrod. With all of the natural disasters that have taken place this year, we knew the relevance of fully understanding what it is they do, how they do it, why they do it, and wanted to help spread the awareness of their importance and impact, based right out of our own community. 

Since we got the grand tour, we decided to do Business of the Month a little differently this time. So here is some background on Direct Relief and where the organization came from because it really puts what they are doing today into perspective - as told to us by Dean: 


The organization was founded in 1948 right here in Santa Barbara, by an Estonian immigrant named William Zimdin. He had come to the United States to escape the Nazis during the second world war, and settled in Santa Barbara. He was a successful businessman and philanthropist that could be thought of as the 1948 equivalent of someone like Bill Gates. At the end of the war he wanted to help people who needed assistance rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the war, and formed a charitable foundation that became Direct Relief. With the help of his business associate, Dennis Karzag, the humanitarian organization began by sending a broad range of relief supplies to those in need, and eventually focused exclusively on medical equipment, healthcare supplies and medicines. The organization began by responding to those in need because of the war, before long Direct Relief extended its humanitarian reach to those affected by natural disasters, and those in need of medical resources every day.

Today that is still the mission of Direct Relief. The organization improves the health and lives of millions of people who are affected by poverty or emergency situations by mobilizing and providing medical resources seeded for their care, for free.  Direct Relief responds to this need by delivering medicines and medical supplies to local healthcare facilities in resource-poor communities in all 50 states and worldwide. By strengthening healthcare infrastructure at the local level, Direct Relief helps communities care for their most vulnerable people. 

Staying true to its roots as an organization founded by successful businessmen, Direct Relief has a tradition of identifying and implementing the best business practices, tools, and technology in order to accomplish its charitable mission.  A business principle that was implemented from the beginning and which continues to make Direct Relief successful is the use of leverage. 

Leverage money with in-kind gifts - William Zimdin funded the foundation with his own money. Realizing that if the organization’s relief work was paid for with those funds alone, it wouldn’t last very long. Even with additional donated money, a charity with an international reach addressing great needs would not be able to efficiently achieve its mission. So, instead of using cash to buy medicines and medical supplies the organization stretched its financial resources by getting donations of medicines and supplies to provide for as much of the need as possible. Today most of the aid Direct Relief delivers has been received in the form of in-kind donations. Last year they delivered about $1 billion (wholesale value) of medicines and supplies all over the world and almost all of that was donated. Cash is then used strategically to buy some medicines and supplies, to pay for shipping costs beyond what FedEx donates, and to pay to run its domestic and international relief programs.


Leverage relationships by creating lasting partnerships – The idea is to work with trusted organizations and individuals that have a long-term commitment to the communities where they live and work, and to Direct Relief’s mission. Downstream on the customer side of the humanitarian supply chain Direct Relief builds relationships with healthcare facilities and community organizations that help identify specific needs. Direct Relief operates like a business would, by identifying, measuring, analyzing data about health and healthcare need, and then offering solutions to those needs precisely and efficiently.  Upstream on the philanthropic supplier side of the humanitarian supply chain, Direct Relief identifies partners who make the needed products very efficiently and at high quality, and who want to help. Direct Relief provides the middle links in the humanitarian supply chain by identifying those who need resources but can’t access them, and then identifying those who have resources but don’t have an effective and efficient way to mobilize the resources. Direct Relief fills that gap and delivers those resources where they are needed.

As we entered the Direct Relief warehouse, Dean paused to show us a display case showing each and every wholesale pharmaceutical distributor license they have - in all 50 states. Acquiring and maintaining these licenses is important and something to be proud of. Direct Relief is the ONLY charitable pharmaceutical program that is licensed in all 50 states. The initiative to get licensed to distribute wholesale medicines and supplies on a charitable basis for free in all 50 states started with Direct Relief’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Direct Relief had been primarily providing humanitarian relief outside of the United States. After Hurricane Katrina devastated so many communities, Direct Relief identified community health facilities that needed support to care for the large number of people who were displaced. When they went to offer help, they realized that they would need a pharmaceutical wholesale distributor license for each state where there were clinics that needed medicines. That was their wake-up call. They saw that there were no charitable medicine providers that were licensed in all 50 states. It was clear that there was a need, and Direct Relief stepped up to fill the gap.


They are also the only non-profit to receive V.A.W.D Verified Accredited Wholesale Distributor designation from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. VAWD is an accreditation program for wholesale drug distributors that was developed to help protect the public from contaminated, diverted, or counterfeited drugs. Even though Direct Relief delivers medicines free of charge it operates at the highest commercial standards, and that is what VAWD accreditation represents. Some states require VAWD accreditation in order for a commercial or charitable pharmaceutical wholesale distributor to be licensed.  


Dean went on to show us their warehouse which was operating like a well-oiled machine when we walked in. Workers working diligently to pack and ship the supplies internationally and nationally, using the newest technology, which reduces the risk of order fulfillment errors and improves time management, making Direct Relief even more efficient. They have expanded over the years on their capabilities by keeping up to this standard of operation which you would expect from a for-profit business. 


Almost all of the public and media attention Direct Relief receives is focused on its disaster response program, but most of what they do is on-going year-round support for the health facilities that they would be supporting during an emergency. What Direct Relief does after a natural disaster is the same thing they were doing the day before – delivering essential medicines to under-resourced communities to support their local healthcare system. The difference is that after the disaster they do it faster and at a higher volume. The reason Direct Relief is able to respond so quickly and so efficiently in an emergency is because they have that on-going relationship with their partners in the same communities before the emergency. 

Dean went on to tell us that in a disaster there can be a lot of relief supplies that starts arriving at an airport or shipping port serving the affected community. 

As we walked through the warehouse we saw palettes of supplies ready to be shipped, all easily identified and wrapped in clean bright colors and clearly labeled. Direct Relief packs and wraps deliveries so they will be easy to identify by their partners who receive them.  We saw a lot of neat and tidy color coordinated packaging, that’s for sure. 


Another important business principle that Direct Relief uses is standardization of things that are done repeatedly and predictably. When you establish a recognized and accepted standard, then you can scale up efficiently. One of the early examples of this is Direct Relief’s Hurricane Preparedness Packs. By analyzing data, the organization saw that hurricanes strike in more or less the same place, at more or less the same time of year within a range of months and within a geographic range, year after year.  

Working with healthcare facilities in hurricane-prone communities throughout the year, Direct Relief learned what supplies would be needed after a hurricane. So, they created standardized response packs full of essential medicines that could be prepositioned with any healthcare partner who requested them before hurricane season begins. Then, if the community is struck by a hurricane, an immediate supply of medicines will be on hand to hold them over for a few days until a needs assessment can be completed and additional supplies are delivered. 

Direct Relief even has their own hurricane relief map that they share online that actually shows you all the hurricane tracks from hurricanes going back 50 years and in real time. If there is a storm brewing somewhere, you can bet Direct Relief knows about it and is ready to aid those affected. 


As you can imagine, Direct Relief is at full operating capacity because of all the communities they support throughout the year, and with the continuing response to all the recent natural disasters. Direct Relief is there before a disaster happens, they are there when the disaster happens, and they are there often for years while communities rebuild after most people have forgotten about them.  Direct Relief will even be moving into a new, larger, state-of-the-art facility here in Santa Barbara to increase their capacity and continue helping those affected by poverty and natural disasters here at home, across the United States, and around the world. 

Wondering how you can help? We were too. The best ways you can help are with financial support and increasing awareness of what Direct Relief does to support community healthcare for people affected by poverty and emergency situations here in Santa Barbara, in all 50 states, and around the world. Direct Relief’s work is funded entirely by private donations – the organization does not ask for or receive government grants.

If you are an individual, own a business, or belong to a club or group and are interested in helping to raise money to support Direct Relief’s work, click here. Direct Relief has staff and online resources to help you plan a fun and successful fundraiser.

If you want to donate money directly click here

If you want to spread the word, “like” Direct Relief’s Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, share posts that you think are interesting, and click here to share this post with your friends.

We would love to partner up with those who are putting on a Direct Relief fundraiser or event. Just send an email to and we will get the word out!

Special thanks again to Dean Axelrod for our tour and in-depth knowledge of the Direct Relief facility. 

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Business of the Month: Ameriflex



How long have each of you been in the financial industry and how long at AmeriFlex?

Max- I have been in the financial services industry for over 12 years now and I have been with AmeriFlex for the entire 12 years. That makes me the longest tenured partner at AmeriFlex outside of the founder and president of the firm.

Brett- I have been in the industry for 17 years, having started my career at a company called Canterbury Consulting, and working my way up through a couple of other firms, the most recognizable being PIMCO, and made my way to AmeriFlex about two and a half years ago.


What services does AmeriFlex offer? Do you do more than just personal wealth management?

Max- I think the public’s perspective is that we manage assets, which is part of our role as wealth managers. What we are really here to do is to help individuals and families navigate a course through transitional events. Those transitional events could be retirement, sale of a business, sale of an investment property, divorce, and sadly death of a loved one. 

Brett- We provide holistic financial planning and asset management services to individuals and families, but we also work with small business and institutional investors.  Those organizations can include non-profits, corporate cash accounts, essentially any organization that has a fairly long-term perspective and has capital they want to grow above what a savings account can provide. 


What is the common misconception about wealth management that you find most often here in Santa Barbara?

Max- I think the most common misconception is that we have a crystal ball. We have the ability to see into the future. That’s not just here in Santa Barbara I think that’s just what wealth management and advisors face in general. I believe what we typically deal with in Santa Barbara is we are here to sell our clients something. When in reality it is about the bigger picture - it’s about developing a relationship, trust and managing that process. It is ultimately our job to work with our clients in developing and monitoring their goals and objectives.  And importantly, we align our interests with theirs.

Brett- Max hit it on the head. Everyone’s gut reaction is we are trying to sell something. Really, our goal and our success in town has been from working with clients on a long-term basis. People do not always realize the value in working with an advisor and employing strategies early on, to help reduce tax liabilities, plan for generational gifting, and to help make life decisions that can influence their financial wellbeing.  These topics are discussed preemptively as part of the financial planning.

What makes AmeriFlex stand out from other wealth management firms in town?

Brett- I would say the team approach. That is what attracted me to the firm several years ago. We each have diverse backgrounds with unique skill sets, along with a firm structure, that allows us to support each other and serve our clients as a team, and I believe clients appreciate that.  We have taken the competitiveness out of the equation.

Max- I would add to that we have a very collegial group in our office, if there’s a question about a unique situation or a specific client need, we don’t hesitate in seeking a second opinion from the team and other advisors in our office. They are more than willing to take time out of their day and help, I think that is what makes us very unique, we can go to each other and ask for help or for an opinion without having to worry about issues of an ulterior motive. At the end of the day we are working together to put our client’s best interests as the top priority.

Brett- We also coordinate with other professionals. A lot of our clients can be business owners or going through a transitional situation where they really need a coordinated effort with their estate attorney or their cpa, thats where we go above and beyond where other firms may only focus on managing assets.

Max– Don’t forget we also coordinate with our trusted real estate advisors

Kat- Always appreciated! 😄 

Interview at Handlebar Coffee, Santa Barbara 

Interview at Handlebar Coffee, Santa Barbara 

Do you service clients from all over SB county or state wide or where do your clients come from?

Max- I would definitely say our niche market is SB county but as a result of the transitional event planning we find ourselves working with clients throughout California and in many states. We have also have been successful opening other offices with the same philosophical ideas that we have at our Santa Barbara corporate office, in cities like Westlake, Newport Beach, and even Scottsdale Arizona.  

Who is your ideal client and how many clients do you take each year?

Brett - I would say we look at our growth at a firm level, and we have certainly been growing. As far as ideal clients, I love working with non-profit organizations that have long-term endowments.  But I also enjoy the relationships of working with individuals and families that are trying to figure out a future retirement or are in retirement and are trying to structure their assets in a way that provides an income stream.

Max- I would add that every client situation is unique- if we were strictly to adhere to a minimum or certain asset level we would easily be excluding a lot of individuals who could use our services or will need our help in the future. It’s our view that if we close the door on them it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for us, it’s too small of a town to turn people away. However, we have to be cognizant of the resources our team can provide and not strain those resources or dilute the level of service to our existing clients by just bringing on everyone we come across. We have to be selective but as Brett mentioned we have our own different niches and we constantly have a communication in our office to see who is going to be a good fit for the relationship. 

Brett- Importantly, we do NOT have a million-dollar minimum- which many of our competitors do.  We are willing to talk to almost anyone and see if there is an opportunity to work with them.

Can you explain your client services philosophy on how you ensure each client receives personal and professional services?

Max- I would say everyone is different - to have a blanket set of services for an individual client doesn’t make a ton of sense as it could alienate individuals who actually need insight and assistance who don’t think they fit the bill. Philosophically services are going to depend on the client’s unique situation; where they are financially; and where they want to be; and the feasibility to achieve their financial goals. There’s going to be a little more attention to detail depending on where they are in their journey. Ultimately service is customized to our clients and their situation. 

Brett- Two key services we provide as wealth managers, financial planning and actual asset management. Financial planning has to be custom. Each family and individual has a unique situation therefore it has to be custom. On the asset management side we are customizing a portfolio around the financial plan, it’s not an approach where we have five models and everyone falls into one of them.  I think people appreciate the extra attention to detail. 

What is your favorite part of what you do?

Max – We don’t have the same repetitive days, week after week. In all seriousness we get to work with great people to help them achieve their goals. The ability to shine light on how we are going to guide them through a particular transition is where I find satisfaction. It’s that “aha” moment that our clients achieve and having them be grateful for the time and effort we provide.

Brett- First, working with smart people, I think that’s important and motivating.  And two, the appreciation clients show when you have worked with them for a while and made a difference in their lives.




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Business of the Month: The Weiser Agency

Interview with Nick Weiser- Managing Partner
 The Weiser Agency 

Nick and Kelly Weiser, Managing Partners

Nick and Kelly Weiser, Managing Partners

The Weiser Agency Office 

The Weiser Agency Office 

How long have you been in the insurance business?

Insurance has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was 2-years-old, my parents opened their own Farmers Insurance Agency in my hometown of Houston, Texas. Upon graduating from Miami University of Ohio, I moved to Los Angeles to work for Farmers Insurance at its corporate headquarters for 8 years. It was there that I met my now business partner and wife, Kelly.  Kelly worked in Marketing for Farmers corporate while I worked in Government Affairs before we made the decision to start our own agency. 

When did you start The Weiser Agency?

A little over two years ago we made the decision to leave the corporate side of the company and jump headfirst into having our own Agency. It has been the best move we’ve ever made! 

Nick Weiser hard at work

Nick Weiser hard at work

What areas do you service?

 With offices in both Santa Barbara and the Channel Island Harbor, our team specializes in insurance coverage for families and businesses throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. We can insure anyone throughout the state though and do have clients all over California.

Do you do more than residential insurance?

Yep, we do it all. Our mission is to protect the lifestyle our clients have worked so hard to build. We do that through protecting all their assets. From the traditional home, auto and umbrella insurance to recreational vehicles, life insurance, and retirement, we provide a comprehensive insurance portfolio tailor-made for each client so we can make sure there are no gaps in their asset protection plan. 

Beyond personal insurance solutions, do you insure business as well?

Yes, one area that we’re really focused on growing and have seen a lot of success with is commercial insurance, specifically for restaurants. The vast majority of our products are underwritten by Farmers Insurance which protects more restaurants than any other insurance company in California. That said, we can do all types of business insurance. For example, one of our awesome clients is Brighten Solar which was featured on the blog in the past and specializes in solar panel installation. 

The Weiser Agency Office 

The Weiser Agency Office 

We know you earned an award recently "Toppers and Championship".  Tell us more about how you were awarded this honor?

Sure. Both these honors are given to Farmers Insurance agencies across the country.   Topper Club recognizes the top 6% of agencies across the country and the Championship title is awarded to the top 3% of agencies in the US. It’s based on performance targets for new business as well as retention and we’re thrilled to have qualified for both awards our first year eligible. 

What’s one of the biggest misconceptions about insurance?

I think it's two-fold. 

First, people place a lot of importance on finding the cheapest & ‘best’ price. Which we think is a silly thing to do when you’re looking to insure all your assets and the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to build. We believe your insurance advisor is just as important as your lawyer, CPA or Realtor since each expert is devoted to helping you acquire and protect your assets. That sort of knowledge and personalized insurance approach isn’t something you can get from a 1-800 number or website.

Second, there’s a general lack of awareness of the importance of life insurance.   When we ask about it, we often hear “I don’t have any kids” or “I have some at work” or “They’ll get the house when I die”. We believe a large part of our job is to walk our clients through the importance of both investing in life insurance early to lock in their rate while they’re healthy and ensuring our clients have the right amount coverage to truly protect their loved ones. We’re also able to offer a lot of great retirement & tax benefits through some of the life insurance products we offer. 

The Weiser Agency Team

The Weiser Agency Team

Is there anything significantly different about insurance in the Santa Barbara area

Fire is always a big concern to our clients as I’m sure it is to yours. A question we get quite often, especially from first time home buyers, is if they can get insurance on a specific property that may be close to a wildfire area. Our team is well versed in all sorts of options to protect homeowners against fire risks and we can explore multiple solutions together to make sure your home is properly protected.  

We have worked with you in the past and our clients love working with you; what would you say is your favorite part about your job?

Thanks for the compliment! We love working with Hitchcock + Associates as well and find your clients are always great to do business with! For us, the most meaningful part of the work comes from the moments when we’re able to be there for our clients in their time of need. Our team truly believes peace of mind comes from knowing everything you love is protected in case of a loss and we’re honored to serve as trusted advisors to thousands of families in the Santa Barbara & Channel Islands Harbor communities.

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Business of the Month: American Red Cross, Kimberly Coley

Business of the Month: American Red Cross, Kimberly Coley

Kimberly Coley, Executive Director with the American Red Cross

Kimberly Coley, Executive Director with the American Red Cross

What is your title with the American Red Cross?
Executive Director

As the Executive Director for the American Red Cross Pacific Coast and Ventura County chapters, what kind of responsibilities do you have in this role?  
Being the Executive Director comes with many hats!  My roles and responsibilities are always changing and no day is ever the same.  Of course, I work closely with our team on a variety of programs and services, always striving to take care of our people and improve the processes and ways in which we work.  In addition, to support staff and volunteers, I also serve as the official liaison with our board of directors up and down the coast; I meet with donors, partners, and media and I’m the “face of the organization” in the community.  I absolutely love my job and feel so blessed to be doing such incredible, life-saving work! 

How long have you been in this position?  
I was promoted to Executive Director last November- so almost a year now.  It’s crazy to think it’s already been a year because every day I continue to learn so much.  Time flies when you’re having fun!

For folks/readers unfamiliar with the American Red Cross and all it does: What is this non-profit all about, and what makes it so special/unique?
The Red Cross is an iconic symbol, recognized around the world as a sign of help and humanity; however, the majority of Americans are only familiar with a portion of our work.  Most people think they know what we do, like hosting blood drives and responding to major natural disasters, but there’s so much more to this incredible organization!  Every day here in Santa Barbara County the Red Cross is responding to single family home fires, educating community members on the importance of emergency preparedness, teaching critical CPR/First aid skills, collecting lifesaving blood, and supporting military members and their families. And while these programs and services won’t always make the headlines, for the individual or family involved, the care and resources they receive are priceless!     


One initiative that most people are unaware of is our Home Fire Preparedness Campaign.  We respond to at least one home fire a week!  Fire doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor.  It happens to people all over the place.  While these single family home fires are the most common disaster facing Americans, they’re also the most preventable.  Having working smoke alarms in your home cuts the risk of death by 50%.  Did you know that 7 times a day someone dies in a home fire and every 40 minutes a fire related injury is reported?  Scary statistics!  We did a survey and asked people:  How long do you think you have to get out of your home if there were to be a fire?  Seventy-five percent of them said five minutes or more, and the true answer is two minutes or less.  Most people think we have all the time in the world to gather our belongings.  We don’t.  That’s why we’re going into the community, installing free smoke alarms, and educating our friends and neighbors on the importance of having a plan, having a kit and being ready to get out when the time comes. 

In fact, we have an event coming up in SB on October 7th.  “SOUND THE ALARM, SAVE A LIFE” is a nationwide event; however, we’re hosting one right here in our community, where in one day we hope to engage more than 100 volunteers by installing 400 free smoke alarms in houses throughout the Eastside.  It’s such a fun (and rewarding) day-  a great way to give back and we invite everyone to join us!  To learn more, visit

How did you get into your line of work?
I stumbled into Non-Profit Management, honestly.  In fact, I’ve had 3 totally different careers in the last 13 years.  The common thread though has always been the people I know.  For me, it seems to come down to relationship building and networking.  I’m constantly meeting people and trying to “connect the dots” for them and for myself.  Because of that, I continue to meet the right people at the right time, subsequently leading to the right opportunities for me in the given moment.  Again, I feel so blessed to be living and working in Santa Barbara and I’m incredibly thankful for everyone who has played a role in my journey to leadership!


This year was an exciting year for you, Pacific Coast Business Times named you one of the top 50 women in business, tell us more about this honor. 
Yes!  This was a complete honor and I’m so thankful to the Business Times for the special recognition.  To be included amongst so many other wonderful, well-respected names within our community was a real treat!  It’s been especially fun to connect with several of the honorees since the recognition- in fact, I’m now learning from some of the best women leaders in town!  These women are master multi-taskers and highly collaborate; although not afraid to get territorial to protect their domain J.  It seems as if all of them have the same kind of circular vision that enables them to be well-rounded and intentional in how they spend their time.  I think it’s critical for us to lean in where we can and lift each other up as much as possible- so I thank those who are now mentoring me and I’m looking forward to giving back to other women in our community over the years to come.

Why is the American Red Cross so important/vital to the Santa Barbara County community and beyond? (where would this community be if it weren’t for the American Red Cross?)
The Red Cross has been in Santa Barbara County for 100 years; we are a part of this community’s history. Many people don’t think about the Red Cross until they need us but when you’re having the worst day of your life, we’ll be there. That’s what we do. 
For the family affected by the home fire, Red Cross volunteers are there to wrap a blanket around their shoulders, offer drinks and snacks, make sure the family has somewhere to go and help them take the next steps toward recovery.  For the patient who is in need of a life-saving transfusion, the Red Cross is collecting and distributing blood to hospitals almost as quickly as donations are coming in.  For the deployed service member whose family is experiencing a crisis, the Red Cross will deliver a verified message to better connect them with their loved ones back at home. 

 Because of our amazing volunteers, we’re here; building a stronger, more resilient Ventura County.  All day, every day, wherever someone needs us!   

We can tell you are passionate about what you do, what is your favorite part about this job? What do you love most?  No doubt.. hands down... the BEST part of my job is the people that I get to work with every single day!  I am beyond blessed!  Our volunteers, staff, and donors are the most loyal, selfless people you’ll ever meet.  They inspire me to be a better version of myself and because of that, I leap out of bed every morning, eager to come to work.  And that’s never happened before ;)  #RedCrossProud





Caitlin McCahill

Caitlin McCahill

How long have you been in commercial real estate?

Well I started in 2008, so it’s been almost 10 years. I was actually offered an internship at Hayes Commercial Group through my sorority at UCSB and I took it not really knowing much about the business. When I graduated they hired me as their Office Manager, then I got my real estate license, became the Escrow Coordinator for a little while and started getting more involved in deals. Then a couple years ago I decided to take a chance and do full time brokerage- and it’s definitely a challenge, but I really enjoy it!

530 Chapala and 25 W Cota 

530 Chapala and 25 W Cota 



You have a lot of great stuff going on right now so can you tell us more about the project you have on 530 Chapala and 25 W Cota? Or about the El Centro Building?

The new construction at the corner of Chapala and Cota are the old “Dal Pozzo Tire” and “Hendry’s Blacksmith” buildings. The owner has re-positioned the two properties into office/retail space and they are some of the coolest properties in town. There’s a 7,000 square foot Spanish Mediterranean building and a 14,000 square foot Contemporary Industrial building with a rooftop deck with amazing views. We’re marketing the property for Sale as a leased investment. It’s a fun property to be involved with and see how it has progressed over the past few months of construction- I’m there a few times a week touring potential buyers and every time there’s something new.

El Centro Building is a historic Santa Barbara style office downtown. It’s located in the Presidio district between Marshalls and the Lobero Theater and was built in 1929 (in 90 days according to an old newspaper ad we found!). Its 18,000 square feet with 24 tenants and has some really unique features -for example, there’s a handball court on the top floor. We’re marketing it for sale targeting the value-add investment buyer. It hasn’t been on the market since 1948 and we are in escrow currently. 

El Centro 

El Centro 

Paseo Nuevo Photo Credit: Jesse Natale 

Paseo Nuevo Photo Credit: Jesse Natale 

So obviously there’s a lot going on downtown, do you have any insight as to what is happening on State Street with all the vacancies?
Retail is obviously changing nationally and locally, but there is some good news - Paseo Nuevo is now fully leased except for Macy’s. Some new tenants are 2bella Boutique, PokeCeviche, Yes Dance, Saje Natural Wellness and SB Souvenirs and Apparel. The Downtown Organization hired a consulting firm to give some insight into how to improve the downtown sector and just released that report, so change is hopefully in the works. The report details different types of uses they’d recommend, adding some more residential on State Street, dealing with the homeless issue, more community events, etc.


Funk zone development, can you tell us anything exciting or new you know about over there?
The Hotel Californian is obviously big news in the Funk Zone area. It has 121 new rooms and will have some commercial components as well. So far, I’ve heard they’ve leased space to a confidential local winery, McConnells Ice Cream, and a restaurant called Finneys Crafthouse out of Westlake which I’m excited about.  In other Funk Zone news, Blue Water Grill will be opening at the Lighthouse property soon where Rusty’s Pizza was. Impact Hub just opened another 10,000 square foot co-working space near Figueroa Mountain. The Museum of Contemporary Arts bought a parcel on Anacapa and will build a new museum there. Down the way a little, Cabrillo Bathhouse will be undergoing a major renovation at the end of the year and the restaurant space (East Beach Grill) is now for lease. Lots going on!

Project Construction on  Chapala Street

Project Construction on  Chapala Street

What do you enjoy most about commercial real estate?
My clients become friends and my friends become clients in a small town like SB! I’m constantly meeting new people and business owners or investors with really interesting backgrounds. Also, I’m always out and about in beautiful SB and get to tour properties I’ve always been curious about. It can be high stress at times, but it’s also high-energy and there’s always something new to learn.



Just Listed! 4BD/3BA Goleta Home on Corner Lot

Just Listed! 4BD/3BA Goleta Home on Corner Lot

A blank canvas ready for it’s new owner’s personal touches, this spacious 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom home sits on a large corner lot. The interior offers approximately 2,439 sq feet of inviting living space within the two story residence. On the main level the impressive foyer will catch your eye with it’s high ceilings. Family room with authentic red brick fireplace opens to a formal dining room and kitchen with breakfast bar. Completing the main level one bedroom one bath and living room opening to the rear yard with sliding doors. On the second floor are the remaining 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, which includes a large master suite with an extra living area and en-suite bathroom. The spacious and usable back yard has all new drought resistant landscaping with plenty of room for entertaining.

The 3 car garage offers space for all your toys with a full single car garage door opening to the rear yard for added convenience. Located in a great Goleta location in University Village. Short distance to Girsh Park, Ellwood Butterfly Preserve, UCSB, shops, movie theatre, golf courses, restaurant, beaches and schools.

Offered at $899,000