gmhTODAY 06 gmhToday Jan Feb 2016 - Page 35

R on was born and raised in beautiful Mill Valley, California, and it was there that he fell in love with the Great Outdoors. It’s a love that has guided some of his most important choices in life, with wonderful outcomes. Ron recalls his days as an Eagle Scout and the great influence of his Scoutmaster, the late John (Jack) Barnard. Mill Valley’s Scout Hall was at its peak enrollment during the 1960s when Ron was involved. Barnard inspired Ron and other scouts to develop their skills at backpacking so they could enjoy nature at its best. His early memories are of hiking the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais, exploring coastal bluffs and forested mountain trails he still enjoys today. First Stint in Finance Ron’s career could easily have gone in a different direction. After graduating from the University of Colorado in the early 1970s, he took a corporate job in San Francisco’s financial district. “I got involved in the credit industry, underwriting contract surety bonds for the construction industry. It was interesting and I learned a great deal, but my heart wasn’t in it.” In Ron’s case, one thing led to another. When he and his wife Renee went down to Gilroy to visit with her parents, Ernest and Ann, talk turned to home building. The Filice family has a long, rich history in South County that includes farming, philanthropy and land ownership. Ernest invited Ron to build some homes on the family’s land. Ron agreed, and, joined a few years later by Renee’s brother Gary, he built about 100 dwelling units including the 52-home Fox Hollow development in Morgan Hill. From Building to Brewing In 1995, Ron decided to try his hand at a startup. He launched the Coast Range Brewing Company in an old cannery building at 10th and Monterey in Gilroy. “After college I had done some bartending at a few great restaurant/ pubs and enjoyed the camaraderie. A friend suggested the idea of starting a microbrewery in Gilroy, and I liked the idea. I got help configuring the brewery infra- structure from another friend with related experience, and I connected with a talented brewer just about to graduate from the UC Davis Brewing program. The business came together very serendipitously.” After eight years of managing the brewery’s production, marketing and sales, Ron decided it was time for a change, so he stepped away from that business and tried his hand, briefly, at real estate. “I liked the business aspect of being a realtor, but not the marketing.” Undaunted, Ron explored other possibilities. The Journalist Ron credits former Morgan Hill Times Editor-in-Chief Mark Derry for giving him an entrée into the Bay Area media scene. “I had done a little freelance writing in 2003. Then I got the itch to write again in 2009 so I talked to Mark. He said, ‘Ron, why don’t you write a column for us? You can be the Outdoors Guy.’ I owe him a lot for inviting me to write about something I care deeply about.” Six years later, Ron’s newspaper column, “Getting Out,” runs in the Morgan Hill Times, the Gilroy Dispatch and the Hollister Freelance, and enjoys a strong following among hiking enthusiasts in South County and beyond. Climb Every Mountain In 2012, Ron took things to a whole new level by posing a challenge to fans of his New Year’s Day hike. Those who wanted to could join Ron in some or all of a series of six local hikes from January to June, in preparation for a “Challenge Hike” – the one to test participants’ physical and mental stamina – in July. To his surprise, over 100 people showed up on January 1st and most of them committed to do the Challenge Hike. Between 2012 and 2015, Ron has led challenge hikes to the summits of Clouds Rest, Mt. Tallac and Mt. Hoffmann – all high-altitude peaks in the Sierras, with trails covering distances up to 14 miles, and aptly rated as ‘difficult.’ It sounds daunting, but every year, hikers of varying skill levels, from teens to gray- hairs, rise to the challenge. And every year they return home exhausted yet exhilarated by the experience, wanting to know what’s on tap for the next year’s challenge.