Former NBA player successfully combines service and business in Utah County

There are many, many companies in Utah County that have charitable organizations attached to their business, but only a few were started with the nonprofit organization at the forefront.

Tesani Companies in Provo is one of those few.

Travis Hansen, former basketball player for Brigham Young University, the Atlanta Hawks and the EuroLeague, founded Tesani in 2007 as Tesani Capital, a real estate investment firm. His goal with the business was to create a consistent funding source for the nonprofit he and his wife, LaRee, organized in the same year. The nonprofit, called the Sunshine Heroes Foundation, has a mission to help children in distant parts of the world who need access to clean water, health services and education.

“We want them to be sustainable, so we help them build the infrastructure. Then they can help themselves. We want to help them, but not do it for them,” Hansen said.

Sunshine Heroes helps locals to build schools and clinics all over the world, life-changing facilities for the children who benefit from them. But it takes a lot of time, work and money invested in each location, so Hansen knew he needed a self-sustaining business that was profitable enough to support Sunshine Heroes.

He credits many local business mentors for helping him with this step — including Blake Roney, chairman of Nu Skin Enterprises.

“I started my business because of Blake, because he pointed out that business is charitable. Successful business supports its workers, provides them experience, supports the community,” Hansen said. “I’ve had lots of really, really good mentors, and I’ve been lucky. I’m smart enough to use their advice, and stubborn enough to think I can do it.”

After Tesani Capital, Hansen opted to continue starting other related businesses. Tesani Companies, which became the main holding company in 2013, now envelops Tesani Capital and five other companies that focus on property management, loans, technological consulting and human resources data management.

The latest one, Eddy, is a tech business dealing with human resources. The company has employees but does not officially launch until January. Though Hansen himself doesn’t claim to be that tech-savvy, he does understand the need for a HR platform targeted to small and medium-sized companies that manages recruiting, onboarding and maintaining compliance records and tracking productivity of workers. He said he’s very excited about what Eddy will do.

“I’m not trying to hit home runs. I just hit singles,” he said of his business experience and companies. “I go into industries that have been around a long time, and disrupt them by executing really well.”

Avery Harding, member of the marketing department for Tesani companies, feels even with “just singles,” as Hansen refers to them, Tesani is a gold mine. Each of the companies under Tesani’s umbrella is “innovative and inspiring.”

Hansen shrugs off the praise, even though his companies employ more than 100 people worldwide. Instead, he credits his employees, mentors and a lot of hard work for Tesani’s success.

“Tesani means the break in the wave,” Hansen said of his business, and his love for all things surfing. “Surfers spend about 1 percent of the time actually riding the wave. The rest of the time they are paddling, waiting for the right wave. The Tesani is the experience along the way of the journey of life. Each one of us has our own Tesani, the reason we wake up in the morning, the reason we go to work, the reason we strive to be a better person each day. We hope our companies inspire our employees, partners, and our community to pursue their own personal Tesani.”

Travis Hansen