G&C Profile: Project Manager Aaron “Johnny” Foster

If Aaron Foster just surfed all the time, the enviable bliss of such lifestyle would also likely leave him without the perks of steady food and shelter. On the other hand, if he dedicated an excessive bulk of his waking hours to work, the elevated payback would never be enough to recover all that lost me-time. Fortunately — in that balancing act of passion and profession — there’s middleground to be had. 

Born and raised in Seattle, Foster got turned onto surfing and graphic design in high school. After graduation he moved to sunny San Diego where he caught a chronic case of surf fever while working on a four-year advertising degree at an arts college.

Turns out, advertising wasn’t the best fit, Foster remembers, so he accepted a construction job from a family friend in Santa Barbara, where he explored a new surf scene while learning the basics, from general labor to swinging a hammer. But then the Great Recession hit. His job disappeared, and he moved back home to Seattle with his brother to rehab an old house and pick up off-and-on fix-it work in the foreclosure market. 

On the other side of the recession, Foster returned to Santa Barbara to work on a big custom home in Hope Ranch, where he added masonry and finishwork to his skillset. He enjoyed working and living — and surfing — in Santa Barbara, and he wanted to make it last. 

“I had maxed out to a certain extent, and I knew I’d have to get a leg up if I wanted to stay in Santa Barbara,” he remembers. “I wanted to progress in the industry.”   

Through San Diego State University, Foster completed an online two-year certificate course in construction management in 12 months. That investment didn’t pay off right away but Foster was patient, and in late 2018 he interviewed with Giffin & Crane. He came aboard in the spring of 2019.

“It was exactly what I was looking for,” Foster remembers. “Giffin & Crane is unlike any other construction company I’ve worked for. It’s the level of organization. The philosophy of doing things right. Of owning your mistakes and learning from them. Custom homebuilding is tough. But with our range of experience, we learn from each other to really refine our problem-solving skills.”  

Around that time — in one of those rare moments where business meets bliss — a surfer buddy turned Foster onto an opportunity to resurrect an obscure but innovative wave-riding bodyboard developed locally in the mid-1980s by the late Dennis Shanelec, who had shelved the company to focus on his career as a dental surgeon.

Before he passed in 2019, Shanelec, and later his widow, Suzanne, were pleased to reignite the brand and pass the torch. Ahi Wave Sleds, manufactured domestically from 100% curbside recyclable material, hit the Santa Barbara market in 2023.

The entrepreneurial effort honors Shanelec’s original aim to maximize pure fun, something Foster keeps in mind as he continues to navigate the life dance between passion and profession.


Build with Us

Remodel with Us

Call Us


Send Us a Message

Thank you.
Your message has been sent.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form