Business in Carpinteria is Eco-rich with Opportunity
From its impressive agriculture community to its booming technology industries, Carpinteria is Santa Barbara County’s southern most coastal city and prides itself on its safe and picturesque beaches, breathtaking mountain views, and a vibrant growing economy.
With a skilled and steadfast workforce, outstanding quality of life, and friendly business climate, Carpinteria is home to a plethora of emerging technology companies and spirited entrepreneurial industries.
Don’t let its size fool you. While the City of Carpinteria has a population of nearly 14,000, its close proximity to talent pools in Santa Barbara and Ventura makes it appealing to a number of large corporations. Carpinteria is the smallest commercial real estate market in the region, but is also home to some of the biggest names. LinkedIn, Agilent Technologies subsidiary Dako, and silicone manufacturer Nusil Technology are just a few of the global companies that call the area home.
Procore first moved into their space on the bluffs in January, 2014, and have rapidly expanded to occupy space in what will be five offices along the bluffs next door to their first building. Connected by public trails that allow employees to walk along the Rookery or jog for exercise, Carpinteria is the place that the construction software company has been able to put down roots. Procore was selected for the Large Business of the Year Award 2015 by the Carpinteria Chamber of Commerce due to its ongoing growth and dedication to the community.
Suzanne Mayeur, Vice President of Operations at Procore, recalls that the company’s first office space was in Santa Barbara, which they outgrew. The second office was in Montecito, which they also outgrew, and it was then that the company decided to look for a location where they could grow into the space, not out of it! Since moving to their current location, Procore has expanded from fewer than 300 employees at the end of 2015 to north of 400 employees today, many of whom live in Carpinteria.
Mayeur sees the Carpinteria location as a win-win for Procore. The proximity to UCSB, Westmont, and other local universities provides a great talent pool, the access to larger metropolitan areas allows for commuters, and the innate charm of the area is appealing to those looking to relocate. Many of Procore’s clients, prospects, and recruits have heard of the area’s world-famous surf spot, Rincon, as well as Carpinteria’s natural beauty, making their location a recruiting tool for the growing company. “Hiring tech talent is not an easy thing to do, but once candidates come to our office, meet our employees, and get a feel for the town, it’s not the toughest sell to get people to work here.”
“The proximity to the ocean is inspiring, as are the lease rates and lovely downtown area. Carpinteria has everything a business needs in a small, beach town environment, and I can certainly see many new ideas and businesses being generated by the creative aspect that the physical surroundings offer,” Mayeur concluded. “Carpinteria is a very special place. We couldn’t be happier growing our business here.”
Tom Vassallo, Executive Vice President of Freudenberg Medical, recognized the appeal of Carpinteria in the late 1980’s when he relocated the company he co-founded, Helix Medical, to the city. Through the years Helix, now InHealth Technologies has always found Carpinteria to have a great business community, and Vassallo says location has always been key.
“The employees here are top notch, and we have a great pool to draw from. From Thousand Oaks to Santa Maria, we have great talent. UCSB also has great talent, and we have a multitude of great resources we can utilize here,” Vassallo added. “All of that made InHealth Technologies appealing, and Freudenberg Medical liked all of that when they bought in. There’s something here that you just can’t find anywhere else.”
Service providers flock to Carpinteria, not only to keep the vibrant economy moving, but to claim a part of the market share. It was a client request that brought Paul Avolio’s IT support company, Latitude 34, to Carpinteria from Goleta, but that one client was all it took to prompt Avolio to join the Chamber and work hard to grow his business in Carpinteria. “The business climate is great. Everybody wants to keep it as local as possible, but there aren’t any firms our size there, so we’ve enjoyed handling the work,” he said.
“It’s a small community but there are a lot of great people,” Avolio added. “With companies like Procore, NuSil, and LinkedIn moving in, as well as a number of smaller companies doing light manufacturing, Carpinteria is perfectly positioned to capture some of the tech sector.”
The authenticity and charm of Carpinteria is woven into the entire fabric of the community and reflected in businesses of all shapes and sizes. Jason Rodriguez and his wife Chef Nirasha Rodriguez were drawn to the community by the family friendly vibe, the abundance of great local farms, and the community’s progressive approach to healthy living. Chef Rodriguez has quickly made a name for herself on the West Coast as a Sous Chef, Private Chef, Celebrity Chef, and Executive Chef. Alongside her husband, she brings her love for and knowledge of what makes good food to Carpinteria.
Shortly after purchasing a home in the area, the Rodriguez’s expanded their catering business and created The Food Liaison. Offering catering, a lunch counter, and a variety of cooking classes, the Rodriguez’s dream quickly turned into a reality and today their lunch counter is a favorite lunch spot in town. The Food Liaison and was named 2015 Small Business of the Year by the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“When you have a solid business model and project a presence that you truly care, the people of Carpinteria and city officials embrace and bend over backwards for you and your success,” Jason Rodriguez said. “There are so many unique businesses here in Carpinteria – from farms and tech to local brews and oil – and the sky truly is the limit not just for the entrepreneurs, but for the gigantic corporations as well. Carpinteria appeals to all.”
Gina Andrews, owner of Bon Fortune on Linden Avenue, came to Carpinteria in 2011 from Santa Barbara to look for warehouse space and stumbled on to her current storefront. Andrews has a thriving online business, and uses her retail space to sell unique party goods and as an event center. “The community embraced us from the get go.”
“This is the last bastion of old California beach towns, and when you walk into one of these shops, you are talking to the owner,” Andrews said. “You can’t beat this community or the people, it just couldn’t be more ideal.”
Serving the parents and families of Carpinteria is also important to Maureen Healy, an award-winning author and expert in children’s emotional health. She decided to open her practice, Highly Sensitive Kids, in Carpinteria because of the warm, welcoming environment the city is known for. “Business owners and community leaders really support each other in Carpinteria. There is a healthy camaraderie and genuine belief that we’re all in it together, which is why this is a great place to grow a business,” she said.
The abundance of local resources and vibrant economy kept Victoria Urquhart close to home when it came to starting her business. Raised on a 15-acre flower farm in the foothills of Carpinteria, Urquhart is a third-generation family farmer turned entrepreneur. Focusing on the importance of locally grown, sustainable agriculture, Urquhart started Bloom Floral & Foliage as a full service florist specializing in subscription delivery.
“The community cares deeply about the people that are in it and wants those that are in business to succeed,” Urquhart said. “Instead of competing for business and being very closed off, we all value other businesses and the hard work they are putting in, and recommend and refer without hesitation.”
Carpinteria is known for being family friendly, and remains the kind of place where kids ride their bikes up and down the street, where people leave their cars unlocked, and where parents stop and chat while their children play. These things make Carpinteria not only a great place to own a business, but a great place to live and raise a family as well.
That family friendly quality is what kept Caroline Alarcon and her sister Marisol Alarcon in the area they have always called home. The sisters recently launched their separate businesses in the same location. Caroline owns Reliant Notary Services, and Marisol owns Alarcon Legal. Caroline has lived in Carpinteria most of her life, and sees the area as the perfect place to start a business. Through Reliant, she stays busy as a notary, loan signing agent, and handles Live Scan for the DOJ/FBI and more. In addition to her work with Reliant, she volunteers at the Chamber and is an instrumental team player in the business world, working hard to make Carpinteria a great city for businesses to grow and be successful.
“The Chamber is fantastic, and really creates opportunities to network and grow as a cohesive business community,” Caroline Alarcon said. “Carpinteria is a great place to start a business, even if you aren’t local. If you get out there and make connections, this community will be there to help you flourish.”
Marisol Alarcon focuses her legal practice on immigration. Recognizing that the path to becoming a permanent resident is not easy for most of her clients, she takes on pro bono cases whenever possible. While she has lived and worked in Santa Barbara and Thousand Oaks, Carpinteria has always been home, and most of her extended family is in the area. Add to that the fact that Carpinteria is an agricultural town and was without an immigration attorney, starting Alarcon Legal made perfect sense, and has proven to be a wise decision as the firm has grown steadily every month since she opened the doors in November 2015.
“Carpinteria is an excellent place for entrepreneurs,” Marisol Alarcon said. “It is a small town with infinite opportunities, and when you add to that the fact that the city is very supportive of businesses and always seeking ways to increase economic vitality, you have a win-win.”
Giving back is not limited to their work for the Alarcon sisters, and they actively look for ways to give back to their community. Paying homage to the fact that Carpinteria is not just a great place to work, but also a great place to live, Caroline and Marisol Alarcon organized and hosted the Carpinteria Child Safety Event in March. Through partnerships with the City of Carpinteria, community volunteers and participating agencies, the event provided 80 child identifications and served approximately 180 people.
“For my sister and me, it’s been about being able to give back to our community. This Child Safety Event was something that we wanted to do to enrich the community and provide positive support for kids,” Caroline Alarcon said. “We want to make Carpinteria better for our children, our nieces, and our nephews, and build a great community for them to grow up in.”