Christopher Wells: A Love for the Trade
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter
BRISBANE — It was on the shores of Long Island where a young Christopher Wells discovered what would become a lifelong love of the building trades. “My initial interest in carpentry started when I was 14 years old,” he recounts. “I bought a set of plans for an 11-foot speedboat and built it in my basement. I enjoyed riding around in that little boat for the next three or four years, and that’s where my passion for construction began.”
Despite his early predilection, it took some time for Christopher to align his passion with his profession. He tried his hand at careers in family therapy and real estate, but in the end, he found that a career in the building trades simply suited him better. “I like the straightforward nature of carpentry,” he affirms. “As a therapist, in order to make any progress, your patients have to want to change, and when they resist the therapeutic process, it can be kind of maddening. As a builder, on the other hand, when you hit the nail in your left hand with the hammer in your right hand, the nail always goes in.”
Today, more than 30 years after he became a licensed contractor, Christopher says his favorite part of his job is finding solutions to complicated problems. “As a general contractor, I’m not wearing the tool belt anymore, so my favorite thing is tackling challenges that come up, whether it’s figuring out a design or determining where a water leak is coming from. I’m a problem-solver, so that’s what I like to do.”
Originally from New York, Chris migrated west to San Francisco in 1971, where he resides today with his wife, Robyn. “I love San Francisco because even though it’s a large city, it still has somewhat of a small-town feel,” he says. “I enjoy the simple pleasure of walking from my house to the West Portal Village.”
Outside of work, Christopher dedicates most of his time to his other passion: singing opera. “I sing with the Verismo Opera and the Bay Shore Lyric Opera,” he says. “Because of my age and baritone voice, I usually play fathers and older, wiser figures, but my favorite role to play is that of the villain. One of my favorite roles is Iago in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera version of ‘Othello.’” In addition to singing, Christopher enjoys traveling with his wife, both to international destinations like Europe and different parts of California to visit friends.
In his life and career, Christopher espouses a philosophy he gleaned from a Beatles song. “Paul McCartney wrote a lyric that goes, ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make,’” he cites. “I’ve taken that to heart and applied it in my business. I believe that if you deal honestly with your customers and treat them with kindness, you’re more likely to receive the same treatment back from them.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Chris says he’d spend more time engaging in the activities he currently enjoys. “I would do a lot of travelling with my wife. Some of the places we’ve yet to visit are Portugal, Australia, New Zealand and Norway, so we’d definitely start planning some trips. I’d also put more time and energy into my opera singing.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite opera?
A: “Rigoletto” by Giuseppe Verdi.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: La Ciccia in San Francisco.
Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Being a musician. I played the double bass, the bass violin and the trombone.
Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
Q: How do you like your eggs?