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Ukiah office turns 10

LACO Associates Ukiah Office located at 311 S. Main Street, Ukiah, CA

Celebrating the past 10 years: Making Ukiah "home"

Author: Christopher Watt
Chris Watt and Family
Today, we call Ukiah home. My two young children attend Yokayo Elementary School and my wife, Cheri, is a past President, current Treasurer, and in-the-running-to-be future Vice-President for the PTA. I am currently on the City Planning Commission, various other boards, and I completed the Leadership Mendocino Course in 2015. We are active residents in our community and love the small-town relationships. However, it hasn’t always been this way. Almost 10 years ago, my family and I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. 
We had just finished remodeling our home in McKinleyville, constructing a woodshop, and creating an elaborate play-structure for Erin (who was 1 ½ years old at that time) when we made the decision to move to Ukiah.
LACO had been vetting opportunities in the region for some time and I had been visiting the area often. In 2007, the LACO Board made the decision to officially open a new office in Ukiah. The doors of this office opened in April 2008, which required me to travel a lot. It started as a few days out of the week, but eventually, my visits turned into longer stretches. 
My first sale was a hydrogeologic study for the City of Ukiah at the golf course. The facility operation was transitioning to a vendor, and the vendor was interested in reducing dependency on the City potable water system.
At some point I could see the opportunity to lead the expansion of LACO in a new community and was thereafter enthusiastic about the growth and development. The hot sunny days after 10 years in coastal Humboldt County sure helped – I grew up on the beach in southern California and I wear flip-flops whenever possible. So, one weekend at home in late 2009, I asked Cheri how she felt about moving to Ukiah. There was a lot to consider—Erin was young and we would soon be pregnant with our second child. However, she agreed and I announced my interest to firm leadership.
The hardest thing about moving was giving up a strong support network and a comfortable place by the ocean that we had made our home. Our friends were also starting families and leaving them wasn’t easy. 
The first community event we attended in Ukiah was Sundays in the Park. We were living in an apartment near Todd Grove Park and we enjoyed the summer concert series often— which LACO sponsors now which is pretty cool. 
Pulling away in the U-Haul from our home in Humboldt County was the end of a chapter. When we were unloading at our new house on Mendocino Drive, I felt for the first time that Ukiah was really “home”. I suspect that it helped that we had forged a few friendships quickly. Tony Shaw, Kevin Doble, Eric Crane, and Tom Hunt were the first people I became friends with— and we are all still good friends today.
Currently, we frequent the farmer’s market on the plaza, Erin attends the SPACE program and plays soccer, and Brynne is involved with gymnastics. We enjoy Lake Mendocino for water sports and walks on the dam. We also spend our time bike riding around town, making camping trips on the coast, and hiking at Low Gap Park. 
Looking back, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Our team today would not exist if we didn’t struggle through organic company expansion. It was stressful, rewarding, challenging, fun, difficult, interesting, important, and fulfilling. Building relationships with key people, obligating to care for their concerns, and creating valuable results which advance their quality of life has been a journey of a lifetime.
Please join us in the evening on May 10th at Factory Pipe in Ukiah to celebrate the past 10 years in Ukiah and to thank the community for welcoming and embracing us.