Chuck Anania, the founder of Roof4Roof, will bicycle 500 miles throughout the Tri-State area to drum up business for his company and at the same time help impoverished people living in substandard housing. On Saturday, July 28 the Montclair-based contractor was expected to pass through Weehawken, Union City, and Guttenberg.
Anania has an unusual business strategy that is part profit, part altruism. For every commercial roofing project Roof4Roof completes in the Tri-State area, the company helps a community in Colombia and Guatemala, where some homes don’t even have roofs, by providing emergency repairs with some of the money it makes in this area. He travels abroad every month to oversee the work and help.
He also has helped struggling homeowners in New Jersey, learning of them through referrals from Habitat for Humanity and local churches.
“It all starts with a stable, dry place you can call home.” – Chuck Anania, founder of Roof4Roof
There are two coordinators he works with in Cali, Colombia, and Guatemala City.
“There, a roof can make a difference. We’re striving to help their community and people in their home countries,” said Anania, who tells his customers, “Your purchase guarantees help for people here in Jersey as well as overseas.”
The journey and training
The 500-mile journey began on Tuesday, July 24 in Trenton. The trip will end on Tuesday, Aug. 7 in Times Square.
“I’m sacrificing my body for a couple of weeks to try to raise awareness,” said Anania.
He will have two support staffers with him to hand out flyers, and put up posters and balloons. Nick Luciano, who received Roof4Roof’s help a few months ago in Hopatcong, and Michael Blake, a marketing employee, will travel alongside Anania. Local businesses will be asked to support the cause by putting up flyers.
His training for the 500 miles has been rigorous for the past three weeks. He rode twenty miles a day to build stamina. His brand new ‘Giant bike’ will be his vehicle for the duration of the journey. Anania contemplated riding 100 miles and even considered 1,000 miles until he realized that 500 miles was more realistic.
“I haven’t ridden a bike for more than three minutes for more than 25 years with the exception of the last couple of weeks,” said Anania. “It’s a lofty goal. Any success we get is a success.”
For the journey, a dozen hotels have volunteered a room for the cause, and his team is working on securing the three more they need.
Formerly from Hudson County
Anania is a former Jersey City resident now living in North Arlington. Prior to his new company, he had another roofing company for 20 years.
“It’s not just a business, for me it’s my life,” said Anania. “I always try to push the envelope as much as I can.”
His dream is to have all 50 states helping the 50 poorest countries in the world.
Anania started Roof4Roof in Montclair in 2010 after a trip to Colombia to visit his wife’s family. The poverty in Cali, Colombia he witnessed while driving around the country inspired him to use his craft as a roofer for the good of his fellow man. He met families there that had dangerous, collapsing and leaky roofs.
“Over there, poverty is a lot more prevalent,’’ said Anania.
The idea came to him after watching a program that illustrated how another company, Toms Shoes, was giving back. For every pair of shoes purchased, they give shoes to a child in need.
“The wheels started turning in my head...,” said Anania. “I had to crunch some numbers and find out of it was doable for us.”
At least 25 percent of the profits go toward Roof4Roof. They are a for-profit, for-progress company that emphasizes giving back. All work done for families in need is funded by homeowners and commercial building owners, who hire them for roofing work.
“You’re gonna get the satisfaction of knowing that you helped someone else with the same price that you would pay anywhere else,” said Anania. “I think it’s truly a win, win situation.”
There is currently a waiting list of three or four struggling families in the tri-state area. On a weekly basis Anania Googles “roof repairs and damage” to find those in need.
He plans to link those who can help with those who need it but permission needs to be obtained by both parties.
The business is now expanding to Central America, India, and Africa.
Finding struggling homeowners in the Tri-State area poses a problem for his cause. County and local municipalities with grants and programs for homeowners in need have also been contacted. With the waiting list dwindling, finding families in need is what sparked the 500-mile trip.
“…we’re running out of people to help,” said Anania.
He thinks that Hudson County would benefit because a majority of the population is of Latin American descent with families from South and Central America. Anania said his company works in Jersey City, Hoboken, North Bergen and Union City.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org