Day 105 - Erik (4th person I approached)
April 15, 2014 - Erik was born in Toronto. Soon after his birth, his parents returned to his father's birthplace of Namibia, in southern Africa.
“My father wanted my mother to see Namibia as he knew it,“ Erik told me, before there was imminent political change.
“We lived in Namibia until I was two years old, then back to Toronto. My father was a mechanical engineer, and so we lived in a few different places, before settling in British Columbia (BC). My father worked for TetraPak, the company that made juice box containers. He designed machines that made food packaging. And then when I was nine years old, through a series of circumstances, my parents bought a nature resort,” said Erik. The family moved to Lumby, which is in the north-east corner of the Okanagan Valley, here in BC. Erik is the oldest of three children, with a younger sister and brother.
When Erik was in Grade 11, a friend from high school had made arrangements to go to Germany on a six month exchange program.
“She was big into theatre, and at the last minute, she got a part in a production and had to drop out of the exchange. She asked me if I was interested in going in her place. I didn’t even have my passport or anything. My parents managed to pull it all together, and a week later, I headed to Germany for six months.” Erik didn’t speak any German, and didn’t have much time to prepare.
“I sort of decided to just make the most of it. It was surprising to me how well the other students spoke English. Of course, an entire school wasn’t going to start to speak English just because I was there. I made it through, and had a really great time,” he said.
Erik graduated from high school, and then moved to Kelowna. He studied business management at a satellite campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“Business Management is about how to run a business and also the psychology of working with people. The human resources and nature of people. It was a five year program, but I took a year off so it took me six years.” While in university, Erik did a few different jobs as well.
“Growing up in Lumby, and with my parents nature resort, I had done a fair amount of mountaineering and fish guiding. One year I had a job working as a nature guide for disabled people,” he told me.
When he completed University, Erik got recruited by College Pro Painters.
“I learned more from them in the first year I worked there than all the years in University. They really teach you how to run a business. The region I had was new so I got a real hands-on experience with building a business from the ground up. They gave me everything I needed and supported the marketing side as well. It was great opportunity. I learned so much because they have such a good program,” said Erik.
“I’ve always wanted to get out and start something for myself, to become an entrepreneur. Then these great contracts would come along, and I just didn’t want to turn down an opportunity. Especially when I knew I was going to learn and make some money.”
After one such contract, Erik and his girlfriend took a trip to Central and South America, to explore.
"We started off in Mexico, and then did all the countries in Central America. Then we took a boat to Columbia and ended the trip in Peru. We wanted to stay for longer, travelling for up to six months. But we ran out of money, so we came home.”
Erik’s parents made him an offer. They wanted to retire and gave Erik first refusal on the purchase of the resort.
“I thought about it and wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to do. I’ve seen how much work my parents put into that place. So I made a two year deal with them, to run the resort and then I’ll decide what I want to do after that,” he said. Erik is now 18 months into that two years, and managed to increase revenue last year and is on target for in a increase this year as well.
“It’s tough because I put in long days and as it’s in a remote location, it’s hard to balance the work and social life. There have been a couple of times where I didn’t see my friends for a month at a time.” Erik hopes to get the resort to a level where he can then hire a manager to help with the work load, and find that balance.
I was curious to know what Erik did in that year he took off from University. “Well,” he says, smiling.
“That was my year of self discovery. My mother is somewhat religious, and we went to church every Sunday. In my first year of University, I took some anthropology classes and it brought up some questions for me. I wanted to know more about religion and to have a deeper understanding of it. So I went to the Alberta Bible College to study. I read the bible from cover to cover. Several parts of the bible I read several times. And I spent a lot of time having conversations with other students and professors from the College. I came to realize, for myself, that there were parts of the bible and with religion that I didn’t agree with. I was no longer comfortable calling myself something that I didn’t believe in,” Erik said. He spent six months in Alberta.
“After that, I took a trip. I started in Mexico. Then I went to Belize and Guatemala. I’m glad I took that year off. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, and I also wasn't able to live in ‘blind faith.’ I needed to know more.” #notastranger