Philanthropy and giving back to our community has always been a point of focus and pride here at MacKenzie Corporation. While we don’t like to brag (but here it comes)… it’s worth noting that MacKenzie Corp won the 2017 Greater Irvine Chamber Award for Business Philanthropist of the Year. Honors such as this allow us an opportunity to rub elbows with Orange County’s most prominent and influential business leaders who also happen to share our socially responsible, purpose-driven mentality.
Through such events we were able to connect with one local leader whose efforts to ignite social change – locally, nationally, and internationally – remain unmatched. Receiving countless accolades, awards and honors for his purpose-driven leadership all across the country, it’s safe to say that 2017 will be a year to remember for Charles Antis; founder and CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing.
In addition to his selfless efforts to bring about positive change on a daily basis, Charles humbly and graciously acknowledges all the individuals along the way who make his continued success possible. Furthermore, he will tell you that he’s not interested in basking in the glories of past successes. He certainly appreciates and is proud of the attention he receives, but Charles is clear that his eyes are on the future as he excitedly hints that next year’s initiatives will continue growing in scale and scope.
How did you find your way into the roofing industry, and then ultimately starting your own company?
Having been raised in a Mormon household, I was sent to Thailand as a Missionary after high school. Upon returning I attended Brigham Young University and landed a job in sales. That school is known for producing top-tier sales talent because the experience of knocking on doors and interacting with strangers as a missionary provided incredibly valuable experience not many others had at that age. As a salesman, I began noticing that my customers were not being given what I had promised them. This didn’t sit well with me because I felt the customers deserved better, so I quit. In search of another way to make some cash, I took on a side-job as a mover; which eventually led to roofing. I got excited about roofing because of my old boss, and I learned a lot about running a small business. I also learned about the importance of taking care of your customers. At a certain point, there weren’t enough projects coming in so I had to find another source of income. Rather than seek employment somewhere else I decided to start taking jobs on my own. My strength was solving leaks and I would tell myself, “Nobody can solve a leak like I can.” I started using this as my selling point, partly due to my previous success in that area but also due to the fact that I couldn’t afford any staff or equipment. I used my limited marketing skills and resources to print and distribute small cards promoting that a customer’s first service was free. What ended up working for me was having learned the value of customer service from my previous employer, and I got so good at customer care that I started receiving call-backs after providing that first service. As I started receiving more and more jobs I was able to hire staff and expand my list of services. Today, the success of Antis Roofing is still connected to the same things that made me successful in the very beginning; treating customers like people instead of profits.
Over the past few years, Corporate Social Responsibility has become a buzz-word with more-and-more brands hopping on board. However, you are not new to the idea of “growth by giving.” What inspired you to so deeply ingrain community partnerships at the core of Antis Roofing?
Having been raised in a Mormon household, I was sent to Thailand as a Missionary after high school. There I had my first significant human-experience with a young girl suffering from spina bifida. I ended up spending a few hours with this girl simply being present and holding her. I felt a deep connection with someone whom I had just met which sparked a sense of genuine fulfillment. When you find something that fulfills you, it’s magic. This experience had a profound impact on the person I was becoming and this sense of fulfillment began to shape my overall approach to operating a business. As I previously mentioned, after venturing on my own looking for work solving roof leaks I struggled to get things off the ground. I didn’t know how to market myself and I didn’t have any money, so I was only getting about two to three calls per week. I ended up receiving a call requesting a leak repair and as I was headed to the residence I noticed that I was entering a bad neighborhood. I wasn’t in any immediate danger; I just knew it was somewhere I didn’t want to be. Even though I wanted to turn back and take it as a loss of my time, I was taught by my dad to “always show up.” I ended up at a small, rundown, four-wall shack and was met at the front door by an older woman who was visibly exhausted; both physically and emotionally. As she opened the door, I was hit by an overwhelming smell of mildew. I hesitated to even enter the house but was then pulled inside by a little girl who grabbed my hand and guided me to her bedroom. Excitedly pointing out posters on her wall, both she and her mother were immune to the pungent smell having been immersed in it for so long. I looked down to see four mattresses lying on the ground covered with mold. I had never seen a roof leak to this extent which was posing a very serious, immediate threat to their health and well-being. I desperately needed the income to provide for my own family, but it was clear this family would not be able to afford the cost of repairs. At this moment I knew I had to do something, and I knew that I would never let someone have a leaky roof because of money. I was able to round up a few volunteers and spent my own money to purchase supplies. Within the week, that family had a new roof and I once again felt the magic of genuine fulfillment. I felt a moral obligation to stand up and speak out for those who don’t have a voice, which has remained at the core of my mission and the reason we are successful today.
An article in the OC Register detailed some of your views on Corporate Social Responsibility. You mentioned a common dialogue between other like-minded, community-driven business people: “Why are you in business; why do you exist?” How would you answer that question?
Early on I was able to identify my own strengths and weaknesses as a leader. My strength is not in traditional business leadership. I am a visionary. My strength is telling stories that connect with people and inspire action. I am here to ignite passion in others for social change.
Your list of community partners and industry accolades seems to grow by the day. Are you strategic in your allocation of purpose-driven time and resources, or are you more inclined to seize opportunities as they arise?
The motto is, “always say yes, no matter what.” To this day we are still learning how to manage and allocate resources within, what I refer to as, the economy of good will. I used to be worried about how we would fulfill all the promises we were making, but somehow things always come together and the job gets done. To be honest, I have no idea how it works. I can’t explain it. The universe makes it happen. Our focus now is to restructure how we say yes so that our approach to fulfilling requests is scalable. I stand up and proudly say that we, for example, provide Habitat for Humanity roofing at no cost. I do this because it is part of who we are and it is important for people to know what we stand for. That said, it would worry me to make these public statements because I presumed then everyone would call with requests and expectations. This concern evolved into a sense of comfort knowing that if everybody calls we will be building the company in ways that enables more to be done. The best part is that as we keep accepting calls, people keep showing up to make it happen.
Are your employees as passionate as you are when it comes to giving back to the community?
I don’t see our team as employees; they are trained ninja warriors. Every day we have 30 purpose trained superheroes out there making Antis Roofing the success that it is today. We look to hire individuals who understand and appreciate the value we are offering society, and they contribute their unique skills in a collaborative effort to bring about tangible change in a world that needs it. I am fortunate to have a team behind me that is incredibly talented, covering each facet of roofing; all while providing the highest level of customer care.
There are some CSR rating tools and systems (i.e. CSRHUB) that use Big Data to measure or rank sustainability performance, both in terms of community impact and employee relations. Do you pay much attention to these ratings? Are you proactive in making sure the general public is aware of your generosity?
I see data as an equal collaborator. We certainly need data to understand where we are making the biggest impact, how we can best allocate our resources, and which social areas present the fastest growing needs. However, data doesn’t inspire people; stories do that. We use data to make internal decisions and to guide our external messaging. I’m able to equip myself with key facts or statistics to be used within impactful stories to help people understand exactly how much good is being done, or exactly how much help is still needed. Our approach is to leverage data when it can help strengthen a point, but we first have to establish a compelling story that makes the data palatable and meaningful.
What is your favorite quote?
“History is made by those who make the wake. Not by those who ride on it, nor by those who watch safely from the shore.”
Author Unknown – Written on a bench in front of World of Coke and the Atlanta Aquarium