Jack of All Trades Brandon Hulon Makes Mark in Tire Business

Jack of All Trades Brandon Hulon Makes Mark in Tire Business

You’ll never hear our latest Club 3633 member say, “that’s not my job.”

You’ll never hear Brandon Hulon say, “that’s not my job.” Even today as president of Northern Rock Automotive’s southwest region, he’ll jump in a bay and change tires, do payroll or even unclog toilets.

“We’re an upstart company,” he says, referring to Northern Rock’s rise from the first store it acquired in May 2021 to now 30 stores and counting. “We do everything we can to make sure we don’t get too top-heavy right now because we’re in the early stages. It’s all hands on deck.”

Northern Rock Automotive was founded by Logan Leslie, a Harvard Law grad and military veteran based out of Atlanta, in 2021. The way that Brandon fits into the company’s history is a bit unorthodox, yet so is how he has weaved his way into the tire industry, more particularly the Tire Pros franchise.  

Hulon started his career in automotive in his hometown of Atlanta detailing cars at a dealership. Then, he found a job as an auditor in the medical industry. In 2012, he moved to South Carolina with his wife for her job relocation. While there, he jumped back into the industry working at BMW’s manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, installing hardware into the interior of vehicles. A year later, he went from assembling new cars to fixing wrecked ones at a regional body shop, where he served as parts manager. The shop was eventually acquired by Caliber Collision. In various positions there, he worked his way up to become general manager at a shop and handled programs with top car insurance providers.

After 10 years with the company and seeing it grow from 200 to 1,200 locations, Brandon was ready to start his own venture.

“I wanted to own my own shop,” Brandon says. “I knew I could do it on my own.”

That’s when Brandon connected with Kevin Paul, the second-generation owner of Alpha Automotive in McDonough, Georgia, south of Atlanta. Kevin was looking to sell, and Brandon spent three months interviewing with him, his family, members of his 20-group and others. However, the deal wasn’t set in stone.

“He [Kevin] sat me down and said, ‘I want to be honest with you. A week before we started talking, I had someone approach me about buying my shop. I don’t know who this guy is, but I don’t want to lose you,” Brandon recalls.

That guy was Logan Leslie. However, Kevin trusted Brandon to take over the reins and offered Brandon the shop manager job with him gradually transitioning into owning the business over a two-year span. About five months into Brandon running the shop full time, Logan came knocking and Kevin closed a deal for Northern Rock to buy Alpha Automotive.

“I had no clue who Logan was and didn’t want to be a general manager,” Brandon recalls. “But, he was intrigued by me since I was involved in the growth of Caliber, and that’s what he was looking to do. He pitched his idea, and basically said, ‘the sky’s the limit.’ From there, I signed on for the ride.”

After purchasing Alpha Automotive in May 2021, Northern Rock Automotive acquired Carver Tire Pros later that year and became part of the Tire Pros franchise. Since then, the company has grown to 30 locations with 22 in Georgia, four in Florida and four in Tennessee. As of May of this year, it had contracts to buy 22 tire and auto repair shops with more growth in the Southeast on the way.

“What’s most exciting to me is I’m at the start of something,” Brandon says about his role, in which he oversees four regional managers and their staffs, as well as picking up odd jobs at the shops in between. “I got to know the people with Caliber and grew up with the company. They had so much pride in what they were building, and I think I’ll be able to do that here (with Northern Rock Automotive).”

Brandon says the hardest part of his role is keeping the mom-and-pop operation and family-oriented atmosphere of the shops while adding in corporate processes. While Northern Rock isn’t backed by private equity, it aims to buy and grow small businesses and employ veterans, which is a mission that resonates with Brandon.

He admits to diving in deep into the tire industry since joining Northern Rock and feels there are both opportunities and challenges along the way for both him and others in the industry.

“The part that scares me is where we’re going with techs. It’s getting harder and harder to find them… People don’t want to get their hands dirty,” he said. “We’re trying to show technicians we hire that if they stick with us, we’re willing to invest in them.”

On the other hand, the service possibilities with electric and autonomous vehicles excites Brandon.

“Most cars have more lines of data in them than Facebook does and most people don’t realize that,” he said. “I think we’ll be repairing cars with more and more computers in the future.”

In his spare time, Brandon loves to spend time with his five-year-old daughter. “She plays every sport she can think of and wants to start racing,” he says proudly. “I told her, ‘You’re going to break me child.’” In his spare time, Brandon says he likes to hit the links with his buddies.

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