John Grivas: All Hands-On Deck
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter
BERKELEY — For John Grivas, an interest in photography served as an unlikely catalyst for his career as a deck contractor. “I began studying photography in high school, and through that I got into building sets for photo shoots,” he explains. “While I appreciated the art of photography, I found that I enjoyed the hands-on work involved in set building even more.”
Later, following a five-year stint doing repair and renovation work for a property management company, John returned to photography for a time before ultimately establishing himself in the residential deck building trade. “I started working in a San Francisco photography studio, building things like light boxes and pulley systems,” he says. “Eventually, I got my contractor’s license and switched to doing residential work, where the market was a bit more lucrative.”
Today, as owner of Bay Area Deck, John says his favorite part of his job is the simple satisfaction he gets from achieving quality results. “I enjoy giving my customers exactly what they’ve envisioned for their decks. My guys and I go the extra mile to make sure the end product is what they hoped for and more.”
A lifetime resident of the Bay Area, John lives in Berkeley, where he expresses his appreciation for both its meteorological and political climates. “Besides the amazing weather, most of the people who live in Berkeley are pretty liberal and open-minded, which is how I tend to be in my own thinking,” he says. “Plus, we have a lot of great restaurants.”
Outside of work, John stays busy with hobbies that range from computer design to surfing. “I do a lot of computer graphics, primarily ‘motion drawings,’ which are 3-D animations of architectural drawings,” he explains. “I post them on YouTube sometimes, and I enjoy interacting with other designers via online forums. I also like to surf in Santa Cruz when I get a chance, as well as snowboard during the winter.”
In his professional career, John believes it’s important to treat every customer with respect, even if they don’t reciprocate the courtesy. “Once in a while I get a customer who’s really hard to please,” he says. “Rather than repay that negative energy, I always counter with a positive response because I know a knee-jerk reaction will lead to a bad situation. In many cases, I find I’m able to turn what might have been a negative experience into a positive one.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, John says he’d buy a house. “I’ve lived in apartments and condos most of my life, so I’d like to find a nice place I could really call home—maybe near a beach so I could spend more time surfing.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco 49ers.
Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Classic rock. One of my favorite groups from that era is The Police.
Q: Do you play any musical instruments?
A: I play the drums.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Mint Leaf in Berkeley.
Q: If you could talk to anyone living or dead, who would you choose?
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A: Abraham Lincoln. I’m a big fan of his—they don’t make guys like that anymore.