Meet Roofing Alliance’s 2021 Most Valuable Player award recipient, Victorino Trujillo-Montez.
Victorino Trujillo-Montez has been a dynamic presence at Antis’ headquarters in Irvine for 14 years. Each morning, as team members line up to check the schedule and load the trucks, Victorino is out front, a quiet yet commanding presence, making sure everyone is ready to go and has what they need to stay safe and do their jobs.
But some equally powerful parts of Victorino’s story come some years before, from where he grew up and how he arrived in the United States. It is a tale of tenacity and determination, revealing how far Victorino has come in his beloved field of roofing despite formidable obstacles in education, language and opportunity.
He was born in the Mexican state of Guerrero, in one of eight small houses located on a remote ranch. The families had no electricity, gas or running water; women cooked on a woodstove. The nearest town was a two-hour drive and because the ranch had no roads, family members often walked to get staples like oil, salt and sugar. On the ranch, they raised all of their own food.
By the time he turned 18, Victorino had a sixth-grade education and was a married father of two. He decided it was time to make a better living for himself, his wife and young children. He embarked on a journey to Southern California, where he sought work, any work. He ended up getting a job in a factory, but he struggled with the language. On the first day, he never stopped to eat because he didn’t understand what “lunchtime” meant and was too proud to ask. No one bothered to explain it to him.
When his manager abruptly changed his day shift into an overnight shift, Victorino left. He asked his brother to give him a chance at the construction firm where he worked, and at 20 years old he discovered his natural skills as a roofer. Victorino found the work he knew was his calling.
His co-workers rely on Victorino’s calm and positive influence during the workday. He is the one who arrives early, and stays late, to make sure the job is done right. “He’s a leader by example,” says Field Supervisor Jesus Zermeno. He doesn’t yell things like “OK guys get to work!”; instead, he takes action and leads the way so that the rest of the crew follows.”
“As a company owner, I notice that some of the guys in the field don’t ‘hold my stare,’ or look me straight in the eye,” notes CEO and Founder Charles Antis. “Victorino is not one of them. He is one of those consistently driven workers who underpin the entire industry; with this drive, you’re strong, without it, you’re not.”
SKILLS AND STRENGTHS
Victorino is one of those rare technicians who has mastered all of the roofing applications: single ply, shingle and tile. “He can replace wood, fix literally any kind of roof or fascia damage,” says Field Superintendent Narciso Alarcon. “He has multiple skills and is highly skilled in the technical aspects of his work.”
Victorino deliberately made himself available on all different kinds of jobs so he would learn the business thoroughly. The breadth of skills he possesses makes him a teaching hub for all of the incoming technicians and even those who have worked in the business for some time.
Although largely self-taught and skilled through experience, Victorino pays close attention to the processes and systems that keep the business running smoothly. For example, he is exacting when it comes to timekeeping, which is a critical piece (and often a pain point) of the roofing business. “Victorino overcomes his hesitation of technology and is 100% accurate with his timekeeping,” Narciso Alarcon says. Patient and meticulous, Victorino sets to work on a task and strives to master it, either learning something new or enhancing his skills.
Safety is another big priority for Victorino. Growing up in an extremely primitive environment and performing hard physical labor on the ranch before he was even eight years old, Victorino has seen first-hand the importance of protecting oneself and those around him. He quickly embraced all of his company’s safety measures and has set an example for the others. They know that Victorino is on high alert at all times during a job.
During one recent job he noticed that one of the field techs accidentally cut a gas line. Within seconds Victorino was on the phone calling 911 and keeping his crew away from the line until help could come.
During his lunch hour and on his own time, Victorino has been known to quietly look for systems and ways to improve the company’s safety.
By nature, Victorino is a teacher. He teaches by example, not talk. New employees gravitate to him and his quiet confidence, as they watch him ply his craft.
Last month, Victorino joined Antis’ Leadership Development program, which for the first time is being offered all in Spanish. This is an important step not only in Victorino’s future as a roofing industry leader but also within the company’s plan to foster growth for its Spanish-speaking employees. Most of his life, Victorino has struggled to find time to learn to speak English, but his family life and long work hours have made the progress slow. The ability to learn how to grow in his industry, in his native language, will be sure to advance Victorino up the ranks of roofing management.
“Victorino wants to be a supervisor,” says Narciso Alarcon. “He wants to learn more about what being a good supervisor is; that way he can teach and communicate better with everybody.”
The Lobo Awards are named after the nearly-extinct Gray Wolf of Mexico. They are given to technicians, many of Mexican origin, to honor their efforts out in the field, building and repairing roofs, staying safe and watching each other’s backs.
Victorino has been awarded with Lobo three times in the last six years: in 2015 as “Pack Mate” for exemplary team work; in 2017 as “Leader of the Pack” for exemplary leadership; and in 2020 as “Spirit Wolf” for reliability.
Victorino considers his work of keeping people safe and dry as a noble cause. Whether he is leading others to follow him on signing up for a particularly difficult job, or whether he is taking time to help his elderly neighbors patch up their leaking roof, Victorino is “all in, all day” as Narciso Alarcon puts it.
At home, Victorino puts his family first. He works long hours but his downtime is precious and always dedicated to wife, children and extended family. Yet he is also a good neighbor and willingly dons his toolbelt to help when asked. Everyone knows of Victorino’s impressive skills as a roofer and in general construction/maintenance; he tries to fit in the frequent requests of his neighbors while still giving all of his available time to family.
Philanthropy starts at home, and Victorino is always on hand to make sure his neighborhood is safe, dry and trouble-free.
Today Victorino’s children are the same age as he was as a young father looking hard for meaningful work. Off to college and building bright futures, they have Victorino to look to, as a model of what it means to be a most valuable player in life.
Victorino’s ready smile (center) is always there to encourage team members, reassure clients and uplift the spirits of the entire company.
Victorino accepts his third Lobo award in 2020, recognized as “Spirit Wolf” for reliability.
Victorino and co-workers learn about important OSHA practices at monthly safety meetings
Victorino receives his 2015 “Pack Mate Award” for exemplary team work. His company continues to benefit from Victorino’s powerful ability to motivate and encourage his co-workers.
Victorino Trujillo-Montez accepts the 2017 Lobo Award “Leader of the Pack” for his dedication to his team.