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Chris Kay

Chris Kay ’10

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New Stockton chamber president credits Pacific education

Jul 17, 2020

Chris Kay (’10 Communication) had just endured a layoff during the recession when he made the decision to apply to attend University of the Pacific.

“I made a goal for myself to take advantage of every possible opportunity that came up at Pacific,” said Kay, 36. “The Communications Department at Pacific was not large, but I learned so much from my professors and fellow students. My experience at Pacific truly set me up for success. It was the right place at the right time for me.”

On July 1, Kay took over as president of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce. Kay had been a chamber board member for six years and his installation as president will be July 22.

Kay is in charge of marketing for Siegfried Engineering, a 65-year Stockton firm that is “about 50 percent Pacific graduates,” said Kay, a native of Stockton.

“He knows the community and has a vision of what is needed from a business standpoint,” said Douglass Wilhoit Jr., chief executive officer of the chamber. “Chris is an entrepreneur who always is willing to think outside the box for the betterment of the community.”

Kay said he realizes the community’s immediate needs include overall safety amid the pandemic and the struggles of many in the business community—especially small and/or family businesses.

“We really have to be on the front line, thinking critically to help both now and when we come out on the other side of this pandemic,” Kay said. “There are so many uncertainties and fluctuations. I have been proud of the way the chamber staff has helped synthesize needs and worked to clear confusion.”

Kay first became involved with the chamber in the 2013 Leadership Stockton class. Employers often pay for staff members to be part of the program, but Kay paid his own way.

“I look back at that as the best possible investment I could have made in myself,” he said.

Kay has had a number of jobs before landing at Siegfried Engineering:

  • Downtown Stockton Alliance: He was marketing director before suffering a second layoff. “There was an increase in crime and more emphasis needed to be placed on public safety, so the marketing position was eliminated.”
  • SMG: He handled marketing for the firm that runs Stockton Arena and the Bob Hope Theater. “That was a great experience and I appreciated SMG giving me the opportunity. “
  • San Joaquin Rail Commission: “That gave me some government experience.”

Kay and his wife Kristen—also a Stockton native—have a 4-year-old daughter (Kenley) and a 9-month-old son (Corbin).

They also have a family business, Carter Imports, which imports extra virgin olive oil and honey, largely from Greece. The business has donated more than 300 bottles of olive oil to Stockton food banks and $1 from each bottle sold goes to the St. Mary’s Dining Room. “This business is a passion for us,” he said.

Kay spent one year in Greece while growing up and is very proud of his family’s heritage. In fact, he is known around Stockton for his social media handle “Chris The Greek.”

“When I met people, I would mention that I am Greek and ‘Chris The Greek’ kind of stuck,” he said.

From his upbringing to his college years to his professional career, Kay expects to be a “Stockton lifer.”

“Stockton has been such a good community and it would take something pretty incredible to move away from here,” he said. “We love the community and are proud to make Stockton our home.”

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