In their July 2020 issue of St. Johns Magazine, the popular monthly publication announced its picks for “Local Heroes.” MasterCraft Builder Group President and CEO, Chris Shee, was named one of “Best of St. Johns 2020” for the unwavering philanthropic work he does for the people (mostly kids!) of Northeast Florida. In Chris’ own words, he explains why giving back is essential to not only building a successful business, but also being a good person and role model for his two sons.
Community Spirit: Why MasterCraft Builder Group Gives Back
by Chris Shee
I’ve always enjoyed giving back to the community and have been involved in community outreach activities since high school. However, it wasn’t until the planning of our first sporting clay tournament, Clays For A Cause, that I started becoming more aware of our local needs and the organizations that help those needs. Once I started getting more intimately involved with some of these organizations, especially the orphanages, I knew that helping the community was to become a lifelong mission of mine.
Several years ago, I wanted to define who MasterCraft Builder Group was in a summarized form. With the help of our marketing company, we developed what are now the pillars of MasterCraft known as the 4-C’s: Craftsmanship, Choice, Customer Service, and Community. Community involves helping and giving back to our LOCAL needs and it’s built into the DNA of this company as well as the other companies I now own – something I’m most proud of.
My charity plans for 2020 had a big wrench thrown in them due to COVID. One of the bigger endeavors I was planning was called Concerts For A Cause. I own a large wedding venue in South St. Augustine that has a capacity of 300. My plan was (and still is) to bring in big name musicians and have a more intimate, almost unplugged, concert where we serve dinner and drinks, enjoy a large camp fire, etc. and enjoy a night of music and fellowship. Part of the appeal will be attending a concert with a big name headliner and only having 300 people in attendance. The other appealing part is that all profits from these concerts will go to a “cause,” which will change with each concert. It’s a fun way to generate $25,000-$50,000+ per event for local causes. I am determined to make this happen and can’t wait until it does!
Aside from Concerts For A Cause, we will be hosting the 8th Annual Clays For A Cause this year at Saltwaters Shooting Club. The tournament will benefit Seamark Ranch and St. Augustine Youth Services again – two orphanages with whom we are closest. Last year, we raised $168,000 during this one-day event, which is mind blowing. My commitment to the event remains in that I’ll pay for everything including shooting, food, drinks, golf cart rentals, etc. so that every dollar donated by the participants actually goes to the charities and not toward paying for the event. It’s become a wildly successful fundraising event, and I feel so privileged to host it.
I have also started working on a new independent living facility for St. Augustine Youth Services (SAYS) in hopes to break ground later this year or early next. Since SAYS receives public assistance, they’re required to move kids out when they turn 18 – regardless of where they are in school, their mental or physical health, ability to live independently, etc. It’s a real problem for which many folks aren’t aware and it’s just wrong. The purpose of the independent living facility is to provide apartment-style living to these new “adults” for two to three years while they acclimate into the real world of paying bills, cooking meals, doing laundry, and all of the other tasks they’re now required to do on their own. The apartments will be subsidized in order to make them affordable. I’ve been wanting to do this for many years and am really excited that we’re now working to make this a reality.
Lastly, MasterCraft Builder Group will be building the “Home For The Heart” this year, which benefits Builders Care – the charitable arm of the Northeast Florida Builders Association. We are building a home in one of our newest communities, SilverLeaf, and will be donating all profits from this home to Builders Care when it sells. In order to make the contribution even larger, we’ve asked our trade partners and suppliers to discount or donate any labor and/or materials they’re able to and we’ll pass the savings along to the Builders Care donation. Our trade partners and suppliers have been unbelievably supportive as they always are with our charitable endeavors. We’ll hopefully reach a six-figure donation with this effort.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life, so far, is that the more I give, the wealthier I become. Material things aren’t as important to me as they once were and that’s been very relieving. Instead, being known as a good steward to my community and a good person, overall, is way more important to me. I hope my two boys, Brandon and Tyler, will continue to be influenced by my actions so that they too will be local philanthropists one day. There’s hardly anything else that would make me prouder.