Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Charles Antis from Antis Roofing & Waterproofing. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.
Heidi: Hello. I have a very special Roofing Road Trips With Heidi podcast today that I am over the moon. This is real time, and even though I'm not literally on the road, I am on the road. I feel like I am in Orange County. I am down at Antis Roofing and Waterproofing with my very dear friend Charles Antis to talk about what's going on in the world right now. So, Charles, welcome to the podcast.
Charles: Thank you, Heidi. I'm so happy to be here with you.
Heidi: I love our conversations. We should probably give everybody a warning out there that these conversations are very fun, very deep, and hopefully everybody will be able to take something really meaningful home because your passion, on any topic that we talk about, is always incredible. But before we get into some of the topics on what's happening with the Corona virus, for those who are listening, this is April 6, 2020, so we're right in the meat of it. Tell me, Charles, how are things for you down there? I hear it's raining. How's Antis doing? How's all your employees? Give us an update on what's happening in your world.
Charles: Well, thanks for asking, Heidi. We are doing good. We are doing good and we are focused on our essential service of keeping families safe and dry in the moment. And we've had rain here, so we're focused, but we're operating in a completely different capacity. I'm watching us grow and watching us learn how to... We're curious in the moment and we're finding ways to communicate with our clients and all of our stakeholders and our employees, and I'm seeing some wins in the moment that I wouldn't have expected, because I'm scared sometimes when I wake up in the morning because I'm in none familiar ground. And so, I'm really excited to see my team adapting, keeping folks dry, and still helping with the community as well.
Heidi: Charles, I love that, that you said you're scared. I woke up this morning just anxious, just anxious. And there's something, I don't know. For me there's something about Monday mornings, like, "Is everything going to be okay?" Then I get on the phone and I start talking to people. I put one foot in front of the other and all of a sudden that anxiousness kind of just melts away. But it does start first thing in the morning. I think it was really interesting that you share that.
Charles: Yeah. Sometimes I wake up with this... It's like I played an old tape and I'm like, "Oh my God, what am I going to do? How am I going to hang onto this?" It's really common for us in the world to wonder how we're going to hang onto this. And in some way, you and I talk a lot about morning meditation because if we're successful in that, in the way we start our day, we can split that into, wow, this is the day that we'll all be better together if we work together to make the world a better place. And I think that sounds a little altruistic, but it's a very balanced place to be because there's a lot of opportunity right now.
Heidi: Yeah. I remember during the recession working with some amazing salespeople out in the field in roofing, and they would just say, "We get in the car. We go out, we do our job. We take care of each other. We take care of our families, and one step in front of the other." It's really important right now. But I also love what you're talking about, about really looking for the creativeness or learning from it. I think that's what you just said. Learning from where we're at. And while we were talking earlier, you said, "Focus on surviving and thriving," which I just think is really an amazing... That's a great way to think about it. Tell us what's happening-
Charles: Well, there's a reason.
Heidi: ... in your office today. Oh, go ahead.
Charles: Okay. Just to say that, I do want to pause on that. Today, it's all about communicating and over communicating both to your inside, to your people. Because we all know we're all scared. We don't have a way for our brains to contextualize what's happening out there. We don't have stories to compare against it. Think about it this way. Everything in my life was a thought before it became a thing. And right now, because we have rain, it's easy for me to say, "But we do have rain." And rather than speaking about dismantling our companies and preparing, although we are signing up for everything we can in the government, we're spending our thoughts on, "Hey, let's be curious. What are the opportunities right now?" And so, by doing that, I want you to think... This is very West Coast, so stay with me. So I like to say this, "Thoughts become words, become actions, become things." So if you want to survive and thrive, why not spend your time thinking and talking in your team and trying things. And you can fail. You can fail fast and adapt and grow. I think that's the difference of what our leadership here has shown me and what our team's shown me. And so, right now we're not talking about carving our teams. I think that shows up with our people and I think that shows up in the way we're using our technology and the way we're being curious on how we can do it better. So that's all I'm saying. Thoughts become things, so let's choose good ones.
Heidi: I like it. Being curious. That's awesome. And being curious kind of led you to what's happening in your offices today.
Charles: Yes. Yeah. Thank you for mentioning it. When we started, we have the American Red Cross here, the first of the series of blood drives, and we are scheduled all day with social spacing, with temperature controls. And what's really cool is it's also raining here. But normally we would have 50 cars and trucks here. But because we're operating completely remotely, we have the 6,000 square foot of space available for the American Red Cross. And so, while we're keeping home safe and dry, keeping water at our homes, we're collecting blood because we're in short supply. And that's the curiosity of my management team and my board member for our local Red Cross, and that Susan DeGrassi, our VP of HR and Cause. So it's awesome to have a VP of Cause because she's always curious. Exactly, it was her two weeks ago or three weeks ago, when I woke up scared like we talked about with a deer in the headlights look, it was Susan that said, "Hey, I'm starting to see that people don't have food. Elderly people don't get food to them. Children who were in daycare and school now sometimes have food shortages." And she plugged me in to some friends of mine who deal with food scarcity, people that are food insecure, which means they don't have food to eat. And we've been able to participate some, both in promoting, both in sending the message, and donating cash to help those food insecure people. So if we're not curious, we don't find this opportunity. By the way, we try a lot of stuff that doesn't work, but I love the stories that work. And this is right now what it does for my people, is we remember why we exist. At Antis, you know what it is, is we exist to keep families safe and dry. I didn't realize back in the day when we started saying that, that part of being safe would be collecting blood, but that it's happening doesn't surprise me because once again, and this sounds really poetic, and I apologize for it, but thoughts become wondering words, become actions, become things. And this is just one of those things that was an idea that now gets to happen, and the community's partnering... We filled up this weekend because it was on the news. It was in the newspaper, Henry DiCarlo, a place to begin this morning and we are filled up for both of the drives we have posted today, and we've been able to add a lot to other drives which are occurring. So really feels good that a roofing company here, because we're being curious, we're able to help in doing that. So thanks for bringing it up. I was ready too. I mean, it's just been an incredible morning because this is as close to the front lines as I'm going to get, and I'm in awe of those people that are just... I honestly can't bring my head to fully encompass what they're doing, but it feels good for my team to be able to do some part to help.
Heidi: I love that. Kudos to Susan for bringing that up because who would think about it? You have everybody working remotely to keep them safe that way. Plus social distancing, going out on the roofs, taking care of everybody with the rain. But now you have this empty space that you've opened up to help with the blood drive. I mean, contractors across the country could possibly look at the same thing, that that might work for them too. I mean, it's these kinds of ideas we're sharing with each other that I think are so important, the communications.
Charles: You're right, and that's why we share it. If we don't share it, it doesn't grow. It took me about 10 years ago when somebody finally explained that to me, "Charles, you have to talk about it." "We can't talk about it." "But if we don't talk about it, Charles, how can it grow?" And so, what I say is show what you're doing and emulate it with your team. And what happens is it will grow. Now, I came out into the main office because I saw Susan out here, and she's never here. But she's here for the blood drive. And so we're standing far away. Heidi, you were just talking about you, and since we were praising you, I thought that Heidi could thank you directly. Go ahead, Heidi.
Heidi: Thank you, Susan. Hello?
Susan: Hi, [inaudible 00:09:44] Heidi. We're great. We're doing really well.
Heidi: Good. You are on Roofer's Coffee Shop podcast.
Heidi: Yeah, we are recording this to share out with the industry, and Charles, I just gave you huge kudos for thinking of... And your team and everybody for thinking of this blood drive of how to use a space. I don't know. It's just amazing even to think of that way. So how did that happen?
Charles: She's an angel here. I'm going to pull you out of here because she's going back in there, and we're weird on the social spacing. We got really weird there, because we're here to do the blood. But she's running back in to help and I'll answer. I'm sorry to do that, but you know my brain, you know how my brain works.
Heidi: Yeah. It's all right.
Charles: In my mind, this is like video audio. But Susan is amazing. She is amazing. She's like a little kid. She's my age, but she's like a little kid and she creates magic here and we're so lucky to have her.
Heidi: That is great. You just reached out to the American Red Cross and said, "Hey, we want to do this"? For the contractors out there. How?
Charles: Yeah. Well, so that's exactly how... To make it understand, Susan's on the board. And so, she heard the dilemma of the lack of blood and how short we were nationally and locally, and she says, "Well, we have this space we can donate because we're not utilizing it now." But if she would have called, she would have got the same question, because I called on food insecurity when I first figured that out. I knew somebody that did it, and he put me in touch right away with something that I could do right then. And I went and joined the Second Harvest Food Bank Truck Brigade. That is just like this. You show up not knowing what to do, because we don't know how to economize the deficits that are out there in our community right now outside of keeping families safe and dry, but we have experts out there. When we listen, we show up like just a simple volunteer. I showed up with my truck last week and I couldn't believe it. Man, There were these beautiful people from our community that just all they did is they had time and trucks. We didn't know what we were doing. We showed up, we got a route, and I delivered boxes of food to seniors that had been sheltered in place and they were alone and hungry and without basic needs. And I can tell you what that was like. I've got to say. I was giving this simple thing to them, and we have to keep our distance, but you know what? They kept saying, "Bless you, bless you." And that's like a really powerful thank you. I don't know what it means. I'm not an expert on how things like that work at all. I don't know it all, but when somebody sincerely looks at me and blesses me, man, I feel blessed and I feel like I suddenly caught up to the moment right then of what was happening after being in a fog in a deer in the headlights for two weeks. The same thing is true here. I show up today, and I didn't know what they needed from me, but I was able to ask people how they heard about it. Thanks to people, the news stations that put it out there. When you show up with a solution, and these are not my solutions, Heidi. I can't see them. I can only see certain things, but keeping families safe and dry, That's really what I see a lot easier or unacknowledged people. But right here, I don't understand this deficit. But by showing up and hanging around these people, it's kind of a miracle in the moment. By the way, if your people can't see miracles around, if all they see is people losing their job, then what kind of day are they going to have? Right now there's only about four of us here, but everyone in the company is going to see the pictures and they're going to see what we're doing. And I think they're going to feel better about the work that we do and how we're partnering with the community. And you know, Heidi, as well as I do that the clients and the stakeholders in our community are going to feel the same way. So we do this because if we don't do it, it won't grow. But we also have learned through experience the last 10 years that by doing this, it's good for our business.
Heidi: Yes. Yeah. I mean, you're out. People are seeing your trucks. They're seeing you give back to the community. People want to work with people that make them feel good, that care. I don't think there's a single person out there who doesn't want work to keep happening. We need to keep the economy moving, obviously. And so, by combining what you're doing for the community while also your crews are out there protecting families, that's pretty powerful.
Charles: Yeah, it feels good today. It feels good today. I'll wake up and I'll have other tough moments where I can't see it all and I'll reach out like we do, Heidi. You know this. We reach out to each other in the business in the roofing, in our local communities and our nonprofits. It keeps us abreast of what's... One of the things I always tell people to join a board. A lot of roofers don't see themselves... Like I didn't use to see myself that I could be at Habitat board or Ronald McDonald House board or the NRCA Board. But it starts with showing up and getting involved. I'd like to remind roofers that... I don't know any roofers that don't... In fact, every roofer I know... I'm excited and I can't talk. I apologize. Every roofer I know is struck with this similar condition. We can't let anybody have a leaky roof just because they don't have the money to pay. And every roofer I know has donated roofs. I have some really good friends, and that's the way we are with information in the industry too. If something's working, you share with me. If something's working, I share with you, and I love that about our industry. Today we are really making a difference, but my message to roofers are the local boards need you too. They see you so much higher sometimes than you see yourself because of all the good that you do. And you don't think anyone notices, but they noticed. I want to remind company owners and VPs to volunteer, get involved in committees because you will learn those board members in those committees really become part of your network. And they remind you, like right now, where you can look and where you can help, and where you can draw real value alignment with your employees and with the community. So volunteer, volunteer. There's never been a better time to volunteer. In fact, Heidi, one thing really good. There's a lot of challenges, and I'm overwhelmed at the suffering in some areas of the world. But look at this, and something I know you'll deal with. Today, I see more empathy than I've felt and I feel more returned to nature. And there's some really good shifts going on. Look at how our brains are developing the capacity to withdraw information from a screen like we couldn't a month ago. The world is forever changed. And so, my focus is, with my team and with my family, to try to focus on the opportunity and the positives as much as possible while being educated in dividing and conquering to cover ourselves in the climate we're in.
Heidi: Right. I agree, as you well know, 100%. This is about right now staying the course. There's a lot of things we can't do. I'm not a nurse. I'm not a doctor. I have huge respect for what they're doing in fighting on those front lines. But what we can do is we can continue to help the trades, to help the employees, to help people keep their homes safe and their businesses dry. Those are the things we can do. And if everybody is out there giving back, doing their jobs, pushing forward as well as they can, supporting your local restaurants, buying online, I'm with you. There has been a fundamental shift and we all have to do our part. And that's really why I love sharing your story, about what you're doing and Antis and all your employees, your whole company is doing to keep things forward.
Charles: Thank you. I want to say one other thing about that. In the roofing industry, we have a lot of reciprocation and we collaborate with a lot of other companies. And one of the things that I want people to realize is we're not very sophisticated. We're a small company. We're a $20 million company and we look bigger probably because we have a big impact. The pictures, we're getting good, but a lot of the things we do, I'm sloppy. I mean, I just want you to know, as an owner, I'm sloppy. It's the people around me and the nonprofits we're partnered with that smooth things out. I can't see logistics as we saw this morning setting up this call. But it's awesome to get involved and to see what happens because we are... My wife painted this thing on the street with chalk with the kids. I came home from work last week and it says "We're all in this together." It's a powerful moment when we... I've been posting this hashtag Better Together for a while. It's really been used a lot, but it's we've been asking. We've been asking, "Come on, you guys. Yeah, come on, we're better together." And it feels like we're starting to believe it, and that is exciting. You and I talked about one other thing and I want to get back to it because besides giving, not everybody is in the capacity to see how to do that yet. But you and I talked about another experience about keeping the gas going in the business. We were talking about marketing. We've heard people with all sorts of opinions. Some people say, "We'll take the gas off," especially if you're shut down. And everything I know about marketing, I am the marketing expert, is you leverage forward always, always, always and forever. We had an occurrence that we were at another group meeting that we should discuss here today. We were on a panel together. And it's worth mentioning and it's about Nick the pool guy. Can I tell you that story?
Heidi: Yes. I love this story.
Charles: Okay. Okay. I wanted to get this. This story's new. It just happened last week, but it really was profound. It's a weird social thing going on right now. I don't know how to be. I don't know how they're supposed to be. So I'm in my dinner, we're having our dinner in my living room at my house last week. I think it was exactly a week ago today, and here I was going out. I hear this noise outside, and I look. And Nick, the pool guy, is there to clean our spa. And so, I'm like, "Oh, why is he here?" I started doing the thing in my head wondering about... I start wondering about his job and how he's affected in the world. I went out and about 20 feet away, I said, "Hey, Nick." And Nick did something that was really interesting. He didn't totally make eye contact with me, probably because we're in a different air right now. Things feel different. He spoke really soft. I had to listen. He said, "Charles, I was thinking about you and your family, and about your kids." And he said, "I've got something for them because it must be different them being home right now." And he pulled out a little blow-up inner tube and a little blow-up beach ball and he gave that to Charlie and Gracie. I was really touched because you've got to understand how that mind shifted me. It's not that I didn't like Nick. I just didn't know Nick very well. Hasn't been my spa guy but for six months. It's not like I didn't trust him, I just didn't really pull him closer until that moment, that moment, Nick, who's got to be a relatively small business and be worried about his clientele. He's probably already lost some of his routes. He said, "What can I do right now?" And he had a marketing spin. I know I wasn't the only one. I know he sent it to other people because that's just the way that works when we make that decision. And I admire him, and I think all of the roofing professionals out there need to learn something from Nick, that in the moment, right now, when you're scared, it's the time to leverage forward and to let people know why you exist. And you know what, he exists something like this. I haven't had this conversation with Nick, but he lives to really enhance this thing that families have in their home to make them feel close together. He must get that because he made that spa better. In fact, I have a slow mo video I've done of Charlie and Gracie where I drop them in that little tube. We call it lazy river, and their butt hangs through the bottom of that tube and they go all the way under water and they come back up. And you know what? Nick's given us something that's added to our quiet family only time as we're isolated, sheltered in place at home. And so, that's the thing you take with you. Wow, what can I do? So I brought that back to my executive team. Wow, we're going in all these homes. We're not going in, but we're outside. And we're doing it with no contact. But what if we could leave them something or even just a letter to thank them and send them something. I mean, I've got my team. Because of Nick, we're curious on this. I've got to tell you how it feels. Heidi, it feels like if I'm not curious on this, then I may not be in business. That's how I look at this. I am all in to develop every idea. Now, by the way, most ideas that I have... You know I have a lot of ideas as do you, but I don't think you and I expect any of our ideas to have to go the way we lay them out. In fact, most of my great ideas, nobody else thinks they're great idea, parking lotted somewhere. But about 10 to 15% of these ideas end up being major movements, and they're never my ideas. It's a combination of a group thing. We're all in this together, we do better together. And so, it's just a fascinating thing to talk about how this develops. I think I'm just rambling right now so I'll let you ask me a question.
Heidi: No, no. I mean that... Because I wanted to share that same... We always share our stories back and forth. But one of the things that's happened with us at the Roofer's Coffee Shop, and I'm going to make sure we get this to you. But about a year ago, maybe even longer we were like, "Oh, we should do handkerchiefs that have Roofers Coffee Shop on them," and we should have these. Well, Vickie ordered them and they ended up, when they came back, they were more of a fandana, meaning they tore all the way around. They're connected in a circle kind of thing. So you pull it over your head, and you can put it your nose or you can wear it in your hair on top of your head if you have bald spots, whatever. And so, all of a sudden, Vickie and I, a couple of weeks ago, we were like, "These are perfect masks." They're not going to be your N95, but they are a great mask for the everyday person. We are now sending those out. I'm going to make sure you have some for your team. We are sharing those-
Charles: I'm going to post a picture wearing it.
Heidi: Yes. And so, it's the same kind of thing, like what matters now. We just put a survey out asking contractors what matters to them. I'm with you. You and I come up with these great... Well, we think they're great, great ideas, and your logic could get changed-
Charles: Yeah, we do.
Heidi: Right? We think so. But really what we need to be doing, and this is what we talked about in that same panel, is that we need to be listening to our customers. I spent a lot of time on the phone since this all happened with the industry. And I think that two-way communication is more important than ever. Then the solutions come from that. Like, what do we really need? Well, we need masks. We need hand sanitizer. So I've got to tell you, Topps Products and Duro-Last are both companies that have just switched over to making PPE and cleaning solutions. I'm not going to go into what-
Charles: Oh, cool.
Heidi: ... the whole thing, but yeah. So I think there's a lot out there that we need to keep sharing this way. Keep talking about it.
Charles: That is awesome. You know, Heidi, one thing cool that's worth... I didn't think of this, but I really would like to quickly remind the listener or tell the listener the story of how you and I met because it was very purposeful in itself. It was in Orlando.
Heidi: Right. Yeah.
Charles: Can I tell the story?
Heidi: Yes. Go for it.
Charles: I know, you may not have heard this for a while, but I went with real purpose. I had just gone to a trade show that was a complete bust, and I was really disgusted in the way we used... And also I was disgusted with our brand, the way that we weren't being understood, in a sense. It's that boundary syndrome, I'm all over everything all the time. But I decided I was going to do Orlando a day early. And the reason I wasn't going to Orlando to the NRC Trade Show, the IRE, a day early was because I learned that they'd had a non-profit event that was much like Habitat for Humanity, which I'm very involved with. It was rebuilding Orlando, and we were going to rebuild homes. And in my mind I said, "You know what, if I show up a day early, I'm going to meet the purposeful people in the roofing industry. And that's because I hadn't been networked there, after all these years, even though I've been in business now for 31 years, and it was like 27. So I show up at the Rebuilding Orlando event, and I meet this awesome hippie chick named Heidi. Okay, you're not really a hippie chick. But you're from Oregon and I'm from Oregon. You're from sisters. You're from the trees that I love. Now that I'm in California, I really, really, really miss my home state. But we just resonated and you really connected me to all of the purposeful people in our industry. And by the time I was done with that show, I was hooked. I was all in. I was on my way to joining the Alliance, which is the give back arm of the NRCA. And I would invite all these listeners to talk to us about joining the Alliance because it's time to give back to the trade that's given us so much. By the way, since I joined the Alliance, our brand is a lot bigger because the Alliance, it's all about being better together. The, I don't know, 80 or so companies that I... That's a guess. That's directionally correct. It could be more or less, but the 80 or so companies that are part of the Alliance, we've got this big multi-million dollar fund that we're leveraging to make the roofing industry better. That's where the Ronald McDonald House initiative was born. That's where the High School Inc... I'm sorry. Is that it? The one we're partners with [crosstalk 00:27:44] thing.
Heidi: Build USA.
Charles: Yes, Build USA. We're talking about developing a video that's probably paused a little bit right now, that's very much like the Navy video, that's out there really talking about lifting us because we're the roofers, man. We are the superheroes that go out on that roof like we are today when no one else will go. It's these hands. Look down at your hands, roofers, right now I'm talking to you. Those are the hands that protect everything that everyone loves in this country. And so, it is a really, really powerful moment when you pause to realize what we do from the Alliance, what we're doing in the NRCA, and what we're doing, us people, like you and me, and [inaudible 00:28:26]. I'm sorry. These things that you've started, Heidi, like National Women in Roofing, I mean, we're really... I say we because I feel solidarity with the women in roofing. When I see a post for National Women in Roofing, one of the things that you'll notice that I won't do, and if I do, you better call me on it live.
Heidi: I will.
Charles: These are really great women leaders. No, that's bullshit. These are great leaders. They are not making our industry better because we need this little extra help. They're making our industry better because they think, and engineer, and care and nurture, and manage well because they are just as talented. In fact, I'm very big on how women and men have different brains and collectively we work so well together, because I noticed that women's brains have the capacity to juggle more, and to see more people as part of the story. And women's brains help me when I feel I'm afraid of an employee, that he could be a threat, maybe a woman's brain can help me understand what it's like to be him in the moment, what it's like to be him right now with this big pandemic scare out there. And it makes me extremely patient. By the way, I want you to know this. Since this pandemic started, we have not laid off any employees. I'm sure we're going to look different a year from now, but I think we could be better. I only say that because it's the smart place to stay and it's the great way to use my brain instead of worrying, instead of fretting, actually creating and talking and collaborating to make it better.
Heidi: Yes. You know what, Charles, everything you just said just brings it all together because, really, the message that I wanted to share on this Roofing Road Trip, I mean, in my mind, I'm there with you. I'm down in Southern California.
Charles: You are here. I'm envisioning you here.
Heidi: I am there. Yeah. I'm visiting. I am. But really what we're looking at is every roofing professional out there doing what they can to, like you said, survive and thrive through this and helping each other, helping their communities, being curious. One of the best things that happened was that day I sat down in that seat on the bus next to you and got to know you and we were-
Charles: That's right. Oh, I didn't-
Heidi: ...able to work together.
Charles: I forgot it was on the bus where we started talking.
Heidi: Yes. It was, and I was kind of like, "Who is this guy?" And then I'm like, "Oh, I've got to learn more. This is good stuff." And we became friends and off we went. You know what? We are at our 30 minutes, Charles, and I was like, "We're going to stop because we could go on for another hour you and I."
Charles: Yeah, we could. We will later.
Heidi: Thank you so much. Yes, good luck today with your blood drive.
Charles: Thank you, and thank you so much to repping this beautiful industry. And to all the roofing pros out there in manufacturing, distribution, and doing the work on the roof, thank you for your big heart, your broad shoulders, and thank you for protecting everything that we love in this country. I love you guys. I love what we do, and I love the way we see ourselves today. And Heidi, you're a big part of that. Thank you.
Heidi: You too. Thank you. And thank you, everybody, for listening to this Roofing Road Trip With Heidi podcast. You can find all of our podcasts on the Read, Listen, Watch section of Roofers Coffee Shop. Just a huge thank you to Charles and to everybody for everything you're doing out there right now. Keep it up, stay safe. Thank you.