Israel “Izzy” Battres founded Battres Construction in Santa Ana in 2008 and has since expanded threefold with Battres Home and Design Studio; Izzy Buys Houses; and Pools, Plants and Pavers. Speaking of spinoffs, after appearing on HGTV’s “Flip or Flop” for seven seasons, Battres jumped aboard the network’s debut season of “Christina on the Coast,” which is scheduled to air in early 2019.
Why did you base your businesses in Santa Ana?
I’m a local. I want to give back to where I was raised, and I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity there. Between the recession and gentrification, a lot of families have been displaced. I want to see what we might do to provide some type of affordable housing. But it’s not just about building a house. You have to build community.
You started a construction company during the Great Recession. Tell us about that.
It was a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights. Just because you know a good trade, that doesn’t give you an automatic prerequisite for owning and running a business. The learning curve was big. My father being an immigrant and coming here from Mexico, he worked two to three jobs at a time; same with my mother. Those work ethics were instilled in me.
Describe what an Izzy project means.
It’s the integrity, the craftsmanship, the communication, and the level of trust, and it’s permeated throughout the company. For us, it’s not just about going in there and getting a check. It’s about being intentional in selecting clients who are a good fit for us and having the best intentions for them.
Was there a big turning point for you?
Obviously meeting Tarek and Christina (El Moussa of “Flip or Flop”). Even before the TV show, Tarek and I would go all day doing houses.
Tell us about the “Flip or Flop” audition.
I was grinding every day. My task was to put food on the table and keep the business running. So when I walked into that house to audition, it was just another job I was doing.
I didn’t really notice the cameras at all, to be honest.
Do fans of the show stop by your studio?
Yes, and I love it. I love meeting people and hearing their stories. And that’s a credit to my wife, Lily, because I was not this person before I got married in 2010. She taught me that it’s not just about the task; it’s about the people, too.
How do you give back?
We just find opportunities where we can help. We’ve volunteered through our church to paint people’s residences (and) remodel bathrooms.
Tell us something people don’t know about you.
I recently starred in a play at our church aimed at combating opiate addiction. I have a passion to help people. It helps me, too. When I’m at work, I’m calling the shots. But when I go to volunteer, I’m asking for direction, I’m serving, I’m picking up trash. It keeps me grounded.