Orlando Chavez says he doesn’t need much, and his numerous charity endeavors are a way to pay it forward for what he does have.
During the day, Chavez is the grounds maintenance manager at Executive Property Maintenance in Plymouth, Michigan.
He holds several certifications and designations from the National Association of Landscape Professionals and the Michigan Green Industry Association. In his spare time, he can be found giving back to those in need.
“I like to help people,” he says. “I come from Mexico, and I saw that people needed help. Over there I did not have the opportunities I have here. I live a little better here. I can pay it back for all the things God gives me.”
In Mexico, Chavez said he was working long hours for very little money. Chavez moved to the U.S. in 2007 and has been in the green industry ever since.
“When I moved to this country (landscaping) was my first job,” he says. “I worked for another company for eight years and then I moved to this company and they gave me more opportunities to grow.”
Chavez says he enjoys a lot about the industry, but his favorite element is improving a home’s overall aesthetic.
“I don’t feel like it’s ever hard for me,” he says. “When you go to a house, the first impression is the landscaping. That’s why I like it, because we make the homeowners smile with our work.”
Upon his arrival in the U.S., Chavez taught himself how to speak English.
“When I moved to this country, my primary language was Spanish,” he says. “It’s funny but the way I learned a little bit of English was by listening to the radio. When you learn English, you feel like so many doors open for you.”
With being bilingual, Chavez is now able to train all kinds of employees at Executive.
“I have workers who don’t speak English, so with being bilingual, I can explain to those guys what they have to do and the way they have to do the job.” he says. “I completely understand how they feel because I was in that position a couple years ago. You have no idea what the customers told you or what your boss is telling you.”
Chavez says the language barrier also inspires some of his charity work.
“The Latino community needs a lot of help,” he says. “The problem is not too many people speak English or have the opportunity to learn a new language. I know people who’ve been here for 20 years and still don’t know English. This is why I like to help.”
William “Bill” Moore, president of Executive Property Maintenance, says Chavez is a prime example of what hard work can lead to.
“I’m so proud of him,” he says. “I use him as an example all the time. He proves you can be anything you want to be. If you work hard, and treat people the right way, it’ll come back on you and you’ll be successful.”
Taking on tough tasks.
Moore says Chavez is the first employee in the office and the last to leave every day. He adds that it’s the little things Chavez does without being asked that makes him a standout employee.
One of those things is managing the company’s Facebook page.
“When I moved to this company, I asked them, ‘Do you guys have a Facebook page?’ They told me yes, but no one takes care of it,” Chavez says.
“I started taking pictures, posting them and then people started making more phone calls and we started getting more business. I’m proud of my team, and I like to show everyone the great job we do.”
From early on, Moore says he challenged Chavez and he shined with each opportunity.
“I’m a believer in everybody needs an opportunity,” Moore says. “I like the fact that he’s constantly looking out for the company and the customer.”
Chavez said his typical days starts with organizing the crews and routes.
Moore says Chavez is also the one to order fuel and materials while still finding the time to recruit new employees.
“If we need additional labor or employees, he puts the word out,” Moore says. “He’s out there grinding away. The guys see that. He’s not just pointing fingers from a truck. He’s out there getting it done.”
Moore says he hopes Chavez’s attitude inspires others within the company.
“(Orlando is) out there grinding away. The guys see that. He’s not just pointing fingers from a truck. He’s out there getting it done.” Bill Moore, president, Executive Property Maintenance
A family affair.
Chavez says that by treating his crews like family, he gets the best out of them.
“Every job we do, we do as a team,” he says. “We have to work together. I tell them if you have a problem, let me know and I will help you. I treat everyone like family; like they are my brothers. If you treat your workers like a family, they’ll feel comfortable and feel like it’s not just a job.”
Moore says the company’s culture promotes this closeness among its employees.
“We rarely have turnover of staff,” he says. “My guys are family-oriented. They all lean on each other. They’re a work family during the day, but if anyone ever needs anything, we’ve got 40 guys who have your back 24/7.”
To prove that he is all in for his co-workers, Chavez did something drastic when someone from the team had a medical issue.
“Last year, one of my co-workers had cancer,” he says. “He’s still receiving treatment. I went to him and he told me he felt depressed because he loves his hair.
“I was with Bill and I told him what happened and said, ‘I want to show Eddie he’s not alone in this.’ Bill asked what I wanted to do, and I told him I wanted to shave my hair. I shaved it and sent a picture to my co-worker. He called and said, ‘You made me smile and showed me I’m not alone in this battle.’”
Chavez’s goodwill didn’t end with shaving his head. He is actively involved with several nonprofit organizations in his community.
One of his endeavors includes dressing up like a superhero once a year.
“I knew a lady who had a son with autism,” he says. “She was celebrating his birthday with a party. I asked her if she needed help and she asked me to come over and play with the kids. I told her I had an Iron Man costume and would show up dressed as Iron Man. That was six years ago. Now, I’m part of a team and every year we celebrate Autism Awareness Month on April 2. Every year we make it bigger and bigger.”
Unfortunately, this year’s event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Chavez says he’s eager to get back to it soon.
Moore says that during this trying time, Chavez’s charity has been even more remarkable.
“During this COVID-19 crisis, he was willing to have some lady put makeup on him to raise money to feed families in need,” he says.
Chavez says the money raised from the project will go to buying groceries for families who’ve lost jobs because of the coronavirus.
Another annual volunteer opportunity for Chavez is Day of Service, which is organized by the Michigan Green Industry Association.
“We do it every year,” Chavez says. “Bill doesn’t have to ask me if I’m going to do it. He already knows.”
In 2019, Executive Property and other local landscapers visited Methodist Children’s Home Society in Redford, Michigan. Moore says Chavez was using an excavator to plant trees for the kids and then let them check out the machines and honk the horns.
Chavez says the experience had a major impact on him.
“We went there and planted fruit trees for the kids and it was so sad,” he says. “Kids have to have their parents, and they don’t. I’m so lucky to have grown up with a family, but those kids don’t have that opportunity.”
A bright future.
Moore says that while Chavez has dozens of redeeming qualities, there are a few he hopes that others notice most.
“The biggest takeaways are be proactive, lead, have some compassion and a good attitude,” he says. “Orlando is an outstanding citizen, an outstanding employee and honestly he just cares. His heart is always in the right place.”
Moore says that as his business grows, he hopes to keep challenging Chavez to reach his full potential.
“What I see for him is taking this company to another level,” Moore says. “We’ve got a lot of great people, structure and policies and procedures. I’d like to take on another venture in another state. I see him taking on some of my roles in that venture.”
Chavez has the same vision for the future.
“I want to try and help Bill build this company a little bigger,” he says. “I also want to keep making things easy for everyone. This is not just a job – it’s a career.”
Explore the June 2020 Issue
Check out more from this issue and find you next story to read.