Paso Robles Chamber Honors Local Volunteer at Annual GalaWhen Matt Masia was first notified he had been named the 2018 Roblan of the Year by the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce, he was both surprised and grateful. Long-time personal and business acquaintances of Masia, however, said the honor was long overdue.
“When I saw the announcement about Matt being named Roblan of the Year, it brought a smile to my face because he is one who has committed basically his entire adult life to the success of Paso Robles,” Travel Paso Executive Director Dana Stroud said. “When people hear about this honor, they think about several traits of Matt – loyalty, dedication to the community and its success, and his continuing engagement in local committees and organizations year after year.”
With a theme of Lighting the Way, the Chamber celebrated Masia at their annual gala at the Paso Robles Ballroom on January 26. He joins a long list of locals who have been named Roblan of the Year, many of whom he grew up with and have had a positive impact on his life. Born and raised in the area, Masia felt honored to be counted among others whose involvement has brought about the betterment of the community.
“My reaction was surprise, shock, and appreciation,” Masia said. “I can’t explain how lucky I feel to be recognized; there are many people in Paso Robles that are involved and make this community great. I truly do love this town and the people, and I appreciate the opportunities living and working in this area have given me and my family.”
Family man, businessman
Masia has been married to Robin for almost 20 years, and they are parents to Mateo, 18. A 1974 graduate of Paso Robles High School, he is the son of Shirley and Mario Masia and has two younger siblings, Michelle and Mitchell. A member of the 1972 Bearcat CIF Championship football team, he attended Fresno State where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Finance.
He and his parents moved to the Black Oak Motel, located across the street from the Fairgrounds, to take over operations when he was four. Owned by his maternal grandfather, Hugh Black, the property where the motel was originally situated extended all the way down Riverside Avenue and was home to the Black Poultry Hatchery. Later, his maternal aunt, Linda, operated the family-owned liquor store; he worked there during high school, on weekends while attending Fresno State, and when he graduated college.
“My grandfather instilled in all of us the importance of family, work, and giving back,” Masia said. “He was always involved and did a lot for the community, especially under the radar financially.”
His grandfather started buying animals right after the California Mid-State Fair started in 1949 and the family has not missed a year since. Growing up, Masia was involved with 4-H and FFA, showing many animals and entering vegetables at the Fair over the years. The Black Oak and The Adelaide Inn are volume buyers at the Jr. Livestock Auction yearly, and Masia was inducted into the California Mid-State Fair Hall of Fame in 2017. He also won the CMSF Blue Ribbon Award and the Pioneer Committee Supporter Award.
Masia has a passion for helping youth, in areas ranging from arts and sports to education and business. His support over the years to organizations including youth sports teams, Bearcat Boosters, Boys and Girls Club, Children’s Museum, and Studios on the Park has benefited thousands of local youth. In addition, Masia volunteers with Little League Baseball and helped students of Daniel Speck Elementary School establish a working garden.
He has been instrumental in a variety of community organizations including Estrella Warbird Museum, Pioneer Museum, Pioneer Day, Main Street Association, and the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce. His committee and board involvement over the years includes being 4-H President, Paso Robles FFA President, Chamber President and longtime Board Member, City of Paso Robles “All Aboard” Train Station Committee Chair and Board, San Luis Obispo County Visitor and Convention Bureau Founding Member and Board, Travel Paso Board, and a founding member of the Paso Robles Business Improvement District.
“Matt is a quiet leader, but he is not one to sit back and watch things happen,” Chamber CEO Gina Fitzpatrick said. “He makes sure he is present when and where he is needed, and impacts the community in a positive way.
We appreciate the time, effort, and energy Matt puts forth in everything he does and the way that he gives back in every aspect of this community. Whether arranging for donations or time for the children, sports, art, or the business community, he simply goes above and beyond.”
Stroud echoed these sentiments, saying, “Matt’s style is one of quiet assurance. He is not the loudest one in the room, nor is he always the first one to speak, but when he does speak it is with a well-honed observation. He has developed a very effective voice because of his involvement, lessons learned, best practices, and the leadership role he plays with many of our local organizations.”
Making Grandpa proud
Masia grew up doing all the jobs at The Black Oak — at the age of six he answered phones, and later cleaned rooms, changed beds, greeted guests — everything that comes with being part of a family business. When given the opportunity to continue in the business, Masia worked to help The Black Oak grow, developed the area known as Black Oak Corner and, in 1986, was instrumental in building The Adelaide Inn.
In addition to The Adelaide Inn and the now-Best Western Black Oak, Masia and his family own and operate several businesses including the Cambria Inns Collection, and the newly-anticipated Black Oak Lodge. Besides his siblings, other family members are key to running the business including his mom, his cousin Greg Pacheco and his wife, and those who have worked over the years to uphold the family tradition.
“My grandfather would be very proud,”
Masia said. “He never pushed any of us to join the business, but wanted to give us an opportunity. He wanted to make sure we got an education, and he liked to see people improve their lives.”
His General Manager, Bill Roof, nominated Masia for the award and said, “Matt really deserves this honor. Whether through volunteering or his unsung financial contributions to local organizations, he continually gives of his time to make Paso Robles a better place. Matt is all about community involvement, more so than many people realize because he’s not one to step up and take credit. He is very humble, and doesn’t want any recognition.”
When he’s not working or volunteering, Masia enjoys spending time with his family, whether its enjoying a meal as his favorite restaurant, McPhee’s, traveling to Hawaii, or attending a San Francisco Giants game – he’s diehard fan.
And what advice does Masia have for others in the community about giving back?
“Honestly, I think giving back helps not only other people, but it’s good for you,” Masia said. “You get a connection you would otherwise not have. Everyone is busy, but if you can do just a little to help, do it. You will help Paso Robles, and you will develop friendships with people of all different backgrounds, people you might not otherwise have the chance to interact with during your everyday work or family life. Invest just one day a month if that’s what you’re able to do – that is what makes a community.”
Great advice from a great man. Thank you, Matt, for all you do for our community and congratulations on being named Roblan of the Year!