Kim and Ian Roth were unlikely entrepreneurs. But like many who travel to the Coast in Mendocino County for some R+R, they fell in love with the area back in 1985, and kept coming back to visit. They moved from San Anselmo to Ukiah years later, buying a beautiful Craftsman on the Old West Side with a pool and a pool house, which they turned into a rental unit. They loved the hospitality aspect of renting out the pool house, which ignited a desire for the hospitality industry. In 2018, during a visit to Mendocino, Kim walked into Big River Realty and came out with the financials on an Inn that was for sale. Ian took a look and figured out he could make the same income at his job, but running the Inn instead. Not knowing a thing about startup a business, the Roths turned to West Business Development Center to learn everything from P and L’s to how to do social media marketing.
Why did you buy Seagull Inn?
My wife, Kim, and I have been coming to Mendocino for more than 20 years. Our first experience here was with 25 of our closest college friends at the group campsite at Van Damme State park, for a weekend of abalone diving. Since then, we come back as often as possible.
We had been Bay Area residents, living in Berkeley, San Francisco, Marin County (Fairfax and San Anselmo), and then moved to Mendocino County settling in Ukiah. After moving to Ukiah, we made a pact to go to the coast at least once a month, to spend time with the ocean. This connection with that amazing body of water, grounds both of us, and helps to dissipate the heat of Ukiah!
Did you ever think you’d be working at an Inn after a long civil career?
I am often asked if I am working or retired. My response is that I am not working, because I spend 60 to 80 hours a week doing tasks I really enjoy; but I am not retired, because I spend 60 to hours a week doing tasks that I really enjoy. Hosting guests on vacation is a wonderful opportunity to experience life and I love it.
What was your background before Seagull Inn?
I got my Bachelors in Architecture from UC Berkeley in 1989. I went back to school at San Francisco State University and I got my Masters degree in Public Administration. The next 22 years were spent working for cities and counties in the Bay Area in finance departments.
Kim is a Special Education Teacher, currently at River Oak Charter School in Ukiah. She has more patience than anyone I know. She balances me and, together, we strive to make every one of our guests’ experiences at the Seagull Inn memorable and exceptional.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business?
The biggest challenge we find is time management. There are many tasks associated with maintaining and improving a structure built in 1883. We have a ton of vision and plans about how we want to improve the property and the product we deliver, and unfortunately, only have available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Managing time and expectations of ourselves is challenging.
What has been the biggest reward of owning an Inn?
When we are running 120 miles per hour, battling power outages, and sirens from the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department next door – reading through our reviews online and in the journals in each of the rooms, lifts our spirits! Gratitude and positivity from our guests is our mainstay. When they tell us that they have had the most relaxing stay with us, amazing food, and exceptional service, it makes every moment we’ve worked so hard worthwhile.
What role has West played in helping Seagull Inn succeed?
West has provided incredible support and programs to help us out. We are both civil servants in our professional careers. We never considered becoming entrepreneurs, or private business owners. West has supported us in goal setting, social media training, social media training, networking, and always being there to answer our questions, and giving us advice. West has been the catalyst in being successful and finding other businesses with whom to partner and collaborate.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Mendocino County?
Mendocino County is a cornucopia of hidden treasures; and our favorites are hiking, biking, wine and water. The redwoods are amazing to travel through, on foot or on wheels. Anderson Valley is the best for world-class wines, bar none. The coast — what can you say? There is nothing more incredible than walking the Mendocino Headlands, watching the powerful surf below you, or sitting on the sand at Big River Beach, watching and listening to the waves roll in, one after another, forever, or standing on the point at the end of Little Lake Street, in the middle of winter, watching the waves pound the rocks and throw whitewater twenty to thirty feet into the air.
That massive body of water we call the Pacific Ocean, with a universe of unknowns below the surface, gives us our energy, perspective, and gratitude for each other, and all that we have, including the Seagull Inn Bed & Breakfast, as well as all our partners in success, including West.
Sea Gull Inn, 44960 Albion Street, Mendocino, https://seagullbb.com/.