Keeping It Simple: Wes Chyrchel of Starfire Direct

"If it doesn't fit in the van, I don't want it." Wes Chrychel is a minimalist in every sense of the word. With his signature navy blue shirt and blue jeans and decked out adventure van--full of collapsible tables, solar panels, foldable furniture, and multi-purpose stainless steel dishware--Wes' outlook on life is one of "simplicity is best". A lover of all things nature and outdoors, this busy dad and husband balances his job, hobbies, projects, and adventures with the things that really matter most to him--his wife of 22 years, Courtney, and his almost 14-year-old daughter, Piper.

Left: Wes and his identical twin brother. Middle: Wes can always bring a smile to his coworkers faces. Right: Wes "cheeses" for the camera after finishing one of his many marathons.

Wes, our Chief Information Officer (CIO), has been on staff with Starfire Direct for over four years. Starting out as a consultant for a year, he has been around for many of the substantial changes this company has gone through in its 11-year history.

"I have been in this line of work for 22 years. One of the biggest successes I have seen in Starfire Direct as a company is that we have made a conscious choice to create an atmosphere of teamwork and culture. I think that is one of the hardest things to do in a company. To get culture right is difficult and takes a lot of work, but as it turns out--people are what makes companies work."

An invaluable piece of the SD puzzle, Wes is the go-to for all things web development and process--from creating new pages with special coding and layouts to tricking out our product pages and navigation. As part of the executive team, Wes has been instrumental in streamlining and optimizing our internal software and processes. His approach is simple, "Everything has to make sense."

Wes, Courtney, and Piper enjoy a romp in the snow on one of their family trips.

Though Wes has seen great success in his work life as a developer, the hardest--and most fulfilling--"job" he has held to date is being a good husband and father to the two most important ladies in his life. Being the dad of a teenager is never easy. "At this age, I just try to be a good listener--and a good guide," Wes reflects, "But it's been a lot of fun. Every day is different. You wake up and wonder 'What's going to happen today?'." Incredibly goal-oriented and a self-proclaimed planner, Wes' number one priority in life is to make sure Courtney and Piper are supported in every aspect of their lives.

One has to look no further than Wes' adventure van to conclude what kind of hobbies he enjoys. If Wes is active and outside in nature, he is happy. Growing up a twin (and yes, he and his brother are identical) in an above-average-sized family, you tend to spend a lot of time with other people.

"Lives get busy. I think its okay to be alone with yourself once in while," Wes advises, "We forget sometimes. We get so caught up taking care of other people that we forget about ourselves. That’s a big part of what this van is about."

Left: The Chyrchel Family with their pup Kona pausing for a photo op. Right: Wes and Piper demonstrate their monopoly skills.

Many of Wes' adventures are not simply flying solo. Courtney, Piper, and their adorable German Shepard mix Kona love their many memorable family trips. Be it desert trips to Mohave and Blair Valley, mountain getaways to gorgeous Mammoth, or beach excursions to Leo Carrillo and San Onofre, this little family unit enjoys every minute of it. In 2014, the Chrychel family bought a little pop-up camper and--once a month for that year--they hit the road on a new family journey filled with learning, laughing, and loving along the way.

"For one weekend a month, I wanted everyone to be able to decompress. And it works. That was one of the best years we've had," Wes remembers, "There was every excuse in the book for why we couldn't go camping that weekend, but when we got in the truck and pulled away from the house, you could see all the problems of the day start to melt away--and we just started to relax. When we got to the destinations, we were all different people."

Wes' adventure van parked out front of Starfire Direct's corporate headquarters.

As Wes began to adopt his minimalist lifestyle, he quickly realized that his schedule was just as cluttered as his closet. From wood-working to home projects, beer-making to rock climbing, Wes was "into" everything. "It was too much. And I had too much stuff. I needed to simplify my life. So the rule was 'If it doesn't fit in the van, I don't want it'. It keeps me focused on the things in my life that I love." Spending time out in the simplicity of nature can have a very profound way of putting things into perspective. For Wes and his family--clearing away the unnecessary clutter from life can make room for some pretty amazing adventures.

Main Image: Wes has been working on his van for a couple of years now. With solar panels, a shower, and a full on cook-top--this van is any minimalist's dream.


Katrina McBreen

Katrina is happy to be part of the Ecommerce team at Starfire Direct, responsible for putting gorgeous products on the website, and maintaining their listings. She is an entertainer by nature, and a lover of all things theatre, film, and music.


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