Integrator SSI’s non-profit gives ‘freedom’ to veterans
ROCKLIN, Calif.—His integration firm hit a major financial milestone and moved into a new 18,000-square-foot headquarters this year, but Surveillance Systems Inc. president Todd Flowers would rather talk about his non-profit organization, Allegiant Giving, which supports disabled veterans.
“SSI has had phenomenal growth and we’re on track to hit $25 million this year, but as we experience this growth I don’t want to lose sight of SSI’s culture of giving back,” Flowers told Security Systems News.
Flowers and his brother-in-law/business partner, Mark Haney, founded Allegiant Giving four years ago. Allegiant raises awareness about the plight of disabled veterans and funds for projects, notably ActionTrac chairs.
These “super-customized” wheelchairs are made for the outdoors. They can handle mountain roads, campgrounds, woods, beaches, hiking trails, frozen lakes and shallow streams, as well as muddy and snowy terrain.
Flowers and Haney both have family who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and know other veterans from the community. They have an understanding of the emotional and physical toll that war takes on young veterans.
“These are kids we coached in football. It’s mind blowing, one day they’re skateboarding and then they come back [from serving in the war] and they’ve lost a leg or an arm,” Flowers said.
The ActionTrac chairs are customized and cost about $15,000. A standard wheelchair cannot be used to get to the field to feed the horses, to go in the woods to hunt, or travel down a snowy road with kids. The ActionTrac chairs give the veterans “freedom” to do these things, Flowers said.
“The guys that get them say the chairs change their lives, and [in some cases] it probably saves them,” Flowers said.
The photo on left is of Lance Cpl. Thomas Parker with his wife and two daughters. Parker served in Afghanistan and lost his legs when he stepped on an IED while returning to camp. In a letter Parker said: "The chair has given me the freedom to do whatever I choose. Literally I am able to take it everywhere—in the yard or off the beaten path. It has allowed me to be the dad I want to be to my daughters."
Allegiant Giving is closely tied to SSI and to other businesses in the community. SSI moved into a newly redesigned headquarters here, but Allegiant is figuratively and literally at the center of the new headquarters, with an office located in the new headquarters.
“We took an existing building, gutted it and put in $100,000 to build it out and create a physical location for SSI and also for Allegiant Giving,” Flowers said.
Flowers and Haney own a real estate company, a concrete construction business as well as others. In addition to SSI and Allegiant Giving, five other businesses are in the new building. Flowers is in the process of building out another suite to create “an incubator for veteran-owned startups.”
“We have a centralized business office and other back office operations they need here,” he said.
An ActionTrac chair is prominently displayed in the foyer.
A network of 20 businesses are part of the Allegiant Giving Network. The businesses all support Allegiant Giving and each other, when possible.
The building has open common area that it allows the community to use. It’s good for the community, for the network of businesses, and it’s good for spreading the word about Allegiant, Flowers said.
“Once they’re in the building they see the Allegiant Giving message and list of Allegiant Giving Network businesses,” Flowers said.