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February 25, 2021

An entrepreneur with a giving spirit

What do you get when you combine a community builder, entrepreneur and innovative problem solver? Greg Wimp.

In 2020, Greg, owner of four local Togo’s businesses in Santa Cruz County, donated thousands of sandwiches throughout our county to fire evacuees, first responders, frontline workers, salon owners and cosmetologists, farmworkers, families, individuals and seniors.

I met Greg when he was honored in 2019 as Man of the Year through Scotts Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual Community Awards Gala. After interviewing him, I learned the depth of his generosity and how his community building, entrepreneurship and innovative skills evolved, and why he thrives.

Community Giver

It started at age 16. He had his own screen-printing business out of his garage, selling T-shirts to Pizza Hut, Hobies Restaurant and local schools, winning accounts over corporate companies. In middle school, he volunteered in a nursing home. Throughout high school, he was helping an elder couple in their 90s, helping with grocery shopping, yard work, and driving them to doctor’s appointments. 

I had asked him how he credits his generosity to community giving? He credits his Dad, that “giving was in his DNA.” Giving back was natural for him; ‘It was the way I was raised,” he said. 

Entrepreneur

Starting to understand better how his generous nature began, I wondered how he happened to become the local Togo’s owner in Scotts Valley, Capitola and two locations in Watsonville. He started as a web developer. His working experience with credit unions, banks and building websites for home banking statements eventually led to his COO position in software development research. But he wanted more community involvement.

He was looking for local opportunities and heard about the Scotts Valley Togo’s restaurant, discovering multiple locations were available. Considering his business background and his desire for community involvement, this was clearly his destiny. 

Innovative Problem Solver

Shortly after opening up his second Watsonville downtown location in late 2019, Covid-19 changed everything for everyone. Almost overnight, with various business industry shutdowns, he lost 50 percent of his business revenue.

I ask him how he assessed the situation and pivoted to remain open and still contribute so much to our community, feeding thousands? “I assessed the situation. We did not have all the information; it kept changing. But we decided we wanted to keep as many of our employees as possible. We were fortunate; we had the capital.

“We first cut down the hours of high school employees living at home with their parents. Even before we were mandated to do so, we provided safety measures and masks for all our employees.”

I wanted to learn more about his process, and his response was calm and humble. “We knew this was a day-by-day thing. A learning experience for everyone, things came up, and we adjusted.” 

And adjust they did. Greg defaulted to his nature of community giving and his ability to innovate.

He took his business outdoors into the parking lot and added entertainment for his customers and anyone who wanted to listen. He had invited Rebecca-Jackson-Picht, Kristen Garbeff with Music in May to play their Chamber music. 

“I wanted to allow people to know that community is the heart of what we do our business, besides just being a business,” he said.

Of course, Greg is in business to stay in business, and his catering business has declined but hopes that when things open back up again, his catering business will pick up also. 

“I was facing all these challenges with courage, love and compassion,” he said.

Greg has approached the adversity of Covid, the fire evacuation, and economic decline with this philosophy.  

How can we help Greg and his Togo’s businesses? His success will also help to support these other organizations: The Boys and Girls Club, Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Homeless Garden Project and Digital NEST. Who doesn’t like a Togo’s sandwich?

Locations: Scotts Valley, Capitola and Watsonville.

Janet Janssen is a business coach, trainer and public speaker, [email protected] Join her Feb. 18 zoom event, “Go from Great to Amazing Online Presentation Skills.” To register, visit form.jotform.com/201976132320952.

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