Affordable Roofing & Construction LLC is a handyman and roofing repair company owned by Lafayette-native Hakeem Zenon. Hakeem learned the business at a young age working alongside his late uncle, John Cormier Sr., a respected local contractor. By the time he was 21, he was passionate about the craft and ready to start out on his own.
For the next six years, Hakeem held down a full-time job while devoting weekends to his growing roofing and construction business, established in 2015.
“My dad was an entrepreneur, and my uncle taught me how to do roofing before he passed away. I was [working] in the oil field industry at the time, but he wanted to make sure I had a trade, and he taught me his.”
Hakeem’s weekend endeavor has since grown into a full-time operation, and he now regularly employs a crew of four to six men to help perform the work.
A Call to Action
Last year, during Louisiana’s devastating hurricane season, Hakeem’s phone rang non-stop with homeowners looking for help. He declined many projects due to the conflicts with his day job, but his desire to help during this turbulent time weighed heavily on him. Spurred on by the continuing calls for help, he decided to resign from his job and devote himself fully to assisting the affected families in his community.
“I was planning on transitioning to roofing [full time] in July of 2021, but the calls for help are what made me take a leap of faith. I’m blessed and privileged; I put in my two-week notice in October of 2020 and picked up roofing [projects] with consistency.”
Hakeem quickly ramped up his operations and worked with three or four different crews at a time, depending on the workload. Affordable Roofing & Construction completed repairs and whole roof replacements on over 90 roofs in just three months.
Hakeem’s work ethic and motivation stem from a desire to help others and help them he did – from Lafayette, Youngsville, Broussard, New Iberia, and Opelousas to Abbeville, Arnaudville, St. Martinville, and Carencro.
“I always did love helping people. With my business, I make sure that I can provide customers the best deal. I try to meet them halfway and even set up payment plans. I am a 'people person' and love to do what I can to help.”
Everything That Makes a Business A Business
As the business began to take shape, Hakeem’s wife, who previously worked with One Acadiana’s Small and Minority Business Program Manager Corey Jack, recommended that Hakeem meet with Corey. From there, Hakeem tapped into several services that assisted his business.
He says the program “...helped me start my business, made sure everything was set up the right way with the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Corporations Division and put me on the right path to make sure everything was legit – everything that makes a business a business. I didn’t know about having a logo... I was educated in a lot of areas.”
The program also connected him with people who could help his business continue to grow, most notably with an introduction to Brandy Landry, a local business mentor who serves as a personal branding strategist and communication trainer for entrepreneurs.
The mentorship helped strengthen him in areas of his relationships, character, and people skills. “Brandy taught me about being a professional entrepreneur,” said Hakeem.
When asked what advice he would give to other would-be entrepreneurs, he shared, “Make sure you have a strategy and money saved up before you jump out on faith. If you don’t have a strategy or contingency plan, you’ll have to start again.”
When asked what the best thing a new business owner seeking help should do, Hakeem shared: “I would lead them to Corey, of course, and tell them to surround themselves with older entrepreneurs. Go to someone older and wiser who can mentor you. We’re all learning from one another; it’s the only way you can grow.”
He has taken his own advice and keeps an entrepreneurial mindset about Affordable Roofing and Construction. “It’s not just a roofing company; I’m branching out and learning new things and different areas of the trade. It’s all about growth.”
The Legacy Continues
For this business owner, being an entrepreneur means he has the freedom to bring his son to school in the morning every day and create his own work schedule.
Being a business owner is a dream come true for Hakeem and is dear to his heart “because I have a legacy,” he says. “I’m proud that I never gave up when I wanted to or when I wasn’t getting customers.”
With his legacy secured, Hakeem's next step is to expand Affordable Roofing & Construction's territory. His wife and young kids motivate him to continue growing his business, and he hopes to pass onto his children the tools of the trade he learned from his uncle, his original mentor.
“I want them to know they can be focused on business, but also family. It’s about working your hours but keeping family first so you’re able to enjoy life.”