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How a mission to Thailand shaped Orange County roofer’s business, charity strategy

Apr 03, 2017

Three stories above the entrance to the Ronald McDonald house in Orange, Charles Antis in a brown cowboy hat and yellow safety harness nimbly navigates his way across the roof to check on storm damage.

Several years of benign neglect has left the area around a ventilating system in need of repair. New wood, roofing paper and new shingles are at the ready.

If you weathered the storms, fine — maybe. But if you noticed brown ceiling stains or water dripping, you’re like thousands of homeowners who managed to get through the recession as well as the drought with little or no maintenance but are now paying the price.

“Out of sight, out of mind” attitudes have reportedly left roofers with 10 times the work of a year ago.

Like cars, says the founder and owner of Antis Roofing and Waterproofing, roofs need maintenance — clear paths for water runoff in particular.

Antis, whose company has provided every roof installation for every Habitat for Humanity home in Orange County for the last eight years, offers other tips that can save homeowners money.

Those tips in a minute. Understand, there’s much more to Antis than repairing roofs. His approach to business was born during a visit to an orphanage in Thailand and grew to maturity when he came to know a struggling family in Los Angeles.

 

Corporate social responsibility

Antis is the kind of person who sees something and ponders the larger picture.

When he went on safari in Africa five years ago with two of his five children, he was fascinated observing animals in the wild.

Likening animal behavior to humans is nothing new. Species live together in relative harmony — and then tear each other apart when food grows scarce. But Antis, who attended Brigham Young University, brought the experience home.

Raptors, even in urban areas he realized, are similar to big cats who track, capture and kill prey. Antis’ latest hobby is photographing eagles, hawks and vultures in action. His photographs on the walls of his office in Irvine evoke the call of the wild as well as the peace of the wilderness.

While serving as a missionary in Thailand as a young man, Antis met a little girl with spina bifida. He comforted her for hours and came away deeply moved about the meaning of service.

“There’s something that occurs on a mission,” says Antis, no longer Mormon, “that is magic.”

From the ground up, you might say, Antis learned the surprisingly complex world of building a roofing business. But in 1989, he had another epiphany working on a house in Los Angeles where a family of seven couldn’t afford to repair the roof.

Not only was there mold in the walls, there was mold in the mattresses. He managed to pull enough low-cost material together to fix the roof on his own.

“The more we give,” says Antis, now 54, “the more we grow.”

Today, Antis raises funds to fight arthritis-like diseases, raises funds for Alzheimer’s Orange County, is on the boards of Orange County Ronald McDonald House as well as Habitat for Humanity and a few years ago was named Habitat OC’s volunteer of the year.

As we talk, Antis mentions attending corporate breakfasts, lunches, golfing fundraisers. I turn skeptical about the value of such affairs.

But Antis explains it is at those get-togethers where meaningful corporate social responsibility is born and nurtured.

“Business people who believe in doing good are the people I hang around with.

“‘Why are you in business; why do you exist?’ is a common dialogue,” Antis reports. He explains the top issues socially responsible companies grapple with include caring for employees and ensuring a green environment.

Antis’ efforts reach as far as Mongolia, where he traveled to build Habitat for Humanity homes.

 

Roof smarts

As we climb onto the roof of the Ronald McDonald House, Narciso Alarcon, a field superintendent for Antis, introduces himself.

What this 37-year-old father of three is too modest to mention is that two weeks ago, Alarcon was named roofer of the year by the National Roofing Contractors Association.

“He’s the best of the best,” Antis says. “He’s the first one at a site and the last to leave and he’s good with people.”

Alarcon smiles at the praise — and then gets on with the job. Safety rope attached to harness, Alarcon sorts tools and materials. The goal is to leave a site not only fixed but improved.

I ask about a rash of roofing scams that hit the county a few years ago in which strangers claimed work was done when little was accomplished. Years later, unsuspecting homeowners believed — but couldn’t prove — they’d been scammed.

Antis advises going with a company with a solid track record and references, one that has photos or videos of your roof to show what was — and what wasn’t — accomplished.

Typical trouble spots on roofs include what Antis calls transitions, penetrations and terminations. In short, places such as corners, angles, chimneys, vents.

The most important thing is that there are no blockages, and that means clearing gutters. “One leaf,” Antis says, “can plug an entire drain.”

With rain Wednesday and more forecast, it’s never too late for maintenance.

 

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