Among the many hats he wears in the Crescenta Valley, Steve Pierce takes it upon himself every morning around 5 a.m. to tidy up Montrose’s Vietnam War Memorial and pick up any trash around it.
After that, he spends the rest of the day talking to people. A lot of people.
Aside from his role as president of the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce, Pierce is also communications administrator for the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., a job he started four years ago under the title business ambassador and for which he receives $500 a month.
One of the job’s main duties is to walk up and down Honolulu Avenue, pop inside the many mom-and-pop shops and ask how things are going and bring back any questions or concerns to the association’s board.
“There was this disconnect between the merchants and the board,” said Pierce, who retired about 11 years after owning a commercial printing business for 34 years. “I think the thing I heard the most is ‘you’re the first guy we’ve talked to in a long time and asked us what are our thoughts.’”
Littering came up as a commonly reported problem and, mainly because of his nature to get things done, Pierce began routinely picking up trash.
He even got help from Montrose business owners such as Ken Grayson, who owns the music shop Grayson’s Tune Town.
“I feel like when people see trash being picked up, they know that the shopping park is concerned about trash and that leads to less trash being thrown out,” Pierce said.
Jack Aroyan, owner of Critters toy store, said Pierce stops by at least twice a week to say hello and to drop off fliers for various upcoming events.
“I like him a lot,” Aroyan said. “He’s a down-to-earth person and he’s dedicated a lot of his personal hours to the Montrose community. Nobody else does that.”
Montrose has played backdrop to many movie shoots over the years, and since 2012, Pierce has also been the filming liaison between Hollywood and local store owners.
When a production needs to take up some parking spaces by a storefront, Pierce is there to help make sure shop owners don’t lose out on business, Aroyan said.
“(Studios) give us some compensation,” he said. “[Pierce] calls them every day to make sure we get reimbursed.”
Originally from Inglewood, Pierce moved to La Crescenta in the late 1960s shortly after getting married.
Prior to his role as communications administrator and chamber president, he served as a member and president of the Crescenta Valley Town Council.
He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, which is one of the reasons he takes pride in maintaining the memorial at Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue that was erected in 1968 and bears the names of 14 fallen soldiers from the area.
“For me, that’s what I get the most pleasure out of,” Pierce said.
He says that looking ahead, one of the most important tasks in Montrose will be to preserve its culture of mom-and-pop businesses as well as continuing to strengthen his ties with them.
“We all work well together, that’s what’s nice,” he said. “Montrose and La Crescenta are a hodge-podge of various ethnic groups and we all work together and that’s what makes a community strong.”
Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.