Hero Roofing owner recalls how the pandemic and hard work helped build a sturdy company

On a sunny afternoon in the south Atlanta suburb of Moreland, a handful of men and women are feverishly working on Linda Newman’s house.

After deciding to renovate her roof, she quickly realized, like many other homeowners, that she would need some extra help.

This is where Nick Branon enters the picture.

“We’re about like halfway through it and installed here today,” said Branon. “This homeowner is getting like a full roof system, of course. They got the main house [and] the garage.”

As he inspects his crew’s renovations and consults with Newman on updates to the build, the Fayetteville native maintains a demeanor that is both calming and potent. He cares about making sure that the project is done on time and that his customers are pleased with the final product.

“It’s not easy being a business owner. It’s super stressful. A lot of people rely on you to get paid. You’re the last one to get paid.”

Nick Branon, co-founder and CEO of Hero Roofing

“We’re not just there to get paid and get some cash and just dip,” said Branon. “We want to actually solve some problems and make an impact in that person’s life and on that person’s home. And that just like, stuck to us and we’re able to build our brand and our culture around that.”

At the age of 32, he serves as the CEO and co-founder of Hero Roofing, a name that he said, like the cement on the shingles that they apply, stuck right away.

Hero Roofing company in Newnan, Ga. (Courtesy of Nick Branon)

Based in Newnan, the roofing company specializes in selling and installing roofs, shingles, and gutters for homes and buildings across Georgia.

The growth of the business has not only allowed Branon to build the roofs for hundreds of homeowners throughout the metro Atlanta area but has also given him a strong foundation of generational wealth and opportunity for his family.

A former mixed martial arts fighter and bartender, Branon’s career ambitions shifted as he reached his late twenties.

When he was hired on for a roofing sales job, he quickly gained an interest in the profession, unaware that it was a multi-billion dollar industry.`According to the Better Business Bureau, the U.S. roofing industry was projected to generate over $56 billion in 2023.

“On Facebook, somebody was hiring for roofing sales [and] I messaged the guy,” said Branon. “I didn’t know anything of the industry or anything about it and he pretty much hired me right on the spot.”

Not too long after learning some of the tricks of the trade, including a brief apprenticeship, he and his father, Todd, founded Hero in November 2018.

Originally, the younger Branon was the salesman, while his father, who is now retired from the company, supervised the jobs and managed the books.

The first six months were a grind, according to the younger Branon, who was simultaneously expecting his second child with his wife.

Stress levels for both men only increased after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, placing Hero and other small businesses into “fight or flight” mode.

Supplies surround a house being worked on by Hero Roofing company. (Courtesy of Nick Branon)

“And my business partner, my dad, like he had that fear [of] everybody’s going out of business and some roofing companies failed too because they didn’t adapt with the changes,” said Branon. “But what we did, we just learned how to adapt.”

But with the pandemic came a growing desire for home repair. The residential market also saw a major boom during this time.

“When COVID hit, everybody went from being out to work to be in a home,” said Branon. “So what they started doing, I started looking at their home and they wanted to renovate and make changes and do things so we got really we got pretty busy the first year.”

Nick Branon, owner of Hero Roofing. (Courtesy of Nick Branon)

Eighty percent of roofing contractors fail within the first two years, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The same administration also reports that 96% are completely out of business in five years.

Thankfully for Branon, Hero has seen the opposite fate while going into their sixth year. In fact, 2023 proved to be the most profitable year for the company thus far.

He credits a lot of his company’s success to the family-like environment that he and his employees have cultivated.

“I’ve had good bosses and bad bosses,” said the former bartender. “So my thing was… I want to create an atmosphere where people want to work for me, like how do I create a business where people want to be in that business.”

“It’s a family [and] it’s a culture that everybody follows,” said Alicia Mullins, general manager at Hero Roofing. “It’s a brand that everybody knows and loves and it’s a reputation that everybody holds every day.”

Mullins also praises Nick for setting the standard with his leadership and professionalism.

“He cares, he’s genuine and he follows through with what he says he’s going to do,” she said.

Alicia Mullins, general manager at Hero Roofing. (Courtesy of Nick Branon)

Branon also attributes Hero’s success to the discipline and determination of him and his staff during adverse times, specifically the pandemic.

“What we’ve done the last four years is we grinded and grinded,” he said. “And we never stopped working … we always answered the phone.”

And because of that, going on their sixth year, the phone has been ringing off of the hook.

“We want to actually solve some problems and make an impact in that person’s life and on that person’s home.”

Nick Branon, co-founder and CEO of Hero Roofing

The company has grown since the early years of Branon and his father as the primary employees. Now, they work with dozens of subcontractors and regularly employ more than 25 people.

But with greater power and revenue also comes greater stresses and responsibilities.

“It’s not easy being a business owner,” said Branon. “It’s super stressful. A lot of people rely on you to get paid. You’re the last one to get paid.”

He added, “I think the key point for being a great leader is just like run something that people want to be a part of, make something that people want to be part of, and do something, everybody wants to be there. And growing as a leader just, I never stopped growing, I want to know how to talk to people and treat people the way I would want to be treated.”

While Branon is grateful for the success and growing reputation the company is receiving, he knows that the company still has a lot more building in store.

“If you’re gonna grow something … I don’t just do it with just myself, but [I] bring people with,” said Branon. “I want to make as many people around me happy and successful to live a way better life than they did [before]. And I think that’s huge as a business as a business owner and entrepreneur is … you can pay somebody and you can hire them but how big of an impact can you make in their lives and the lives around them?”