SEASIDE – Many people become immersed in a full-time occupation early in life, but when Dustin Cook was a young man, he knew he wanted to experience more of the world before committing himself to a permanent career…which is exactly what he did. “Between 1976 and 1980, I was outside of the United States in one form or another,” he remembers. “I saved up a couple thousand dollars and started hitchhiking south toward Mexico. I spent about a year in Peru before ending up in Panama, where I spent another couple of years doing intermittent construction work. Eventually, I was able to purchase an old sailboat and sailed back to California, where I got back into full-time construction work.”
Prior to these adventures, Dustin had been pursuing an architecture degree at Cal Poly before losing interest and joining the workforce. When he landed a job on a construction site, he realized he relished the hands-on quality that had been missing from his educational environment. In a short time, he worked his way up from laborer to carpenter to superintendent. After returning from his travels south of the border, he got his contractor’s license and formed D. Cook Construction in 1981, which he’s been operating ever since. Today, Dustin says he still appreciates the things that attracted him to the trade in the first place. “I’ve always enjoyed building things. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog house or a huge room addition—it’s always a challenge, and it’s always fun to figure it out and watch it all come together.”
Dustin lives in Monterey with his wife, Diana, where he’s been for more than 20 years since moving from the San Luis Obispo area. While he still enjoys traveling, as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and trout fishing, Dustin also has an appreciation for life at home. “We live on a couple of acres in a rural area, so I keep myself busy with projects and making improvements around the house and property,” he says.
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dustin says he’s recently been pondering the same question. “My wife and I have been mulling that over, because I literally could retire tomorrow. Besides continuing to travel and do the things I love, I’d like to become more involved in the community and use my expertise to help those in need.”