CEO Charles Sheron with The Sheron Group joins the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast to share details about his entrance into the Atlanta market, the ups and downs of the real estate industry, as well as his diverse domestic and international experience. Sheron joins host Carol Morgan as the ninth guest on the Legends of Real Estate segment.
During his formative years, Sheron excelled at mechanical drawing. During a fated architectural school project, he won the prize, setting the stage for a successful career and lifetime surrounding architecture. Soon, Sheron attended The University of Georgia and took pre-architecture and landscape courses. Along the way, his professor pulled Sheron into his office and gave him life-changing advice.
Sheron said, “[He] said you know you’re just not going to make it here. You don’t have your whole heart in it… You’re always trying to sell something. You need to go over to the real estate school!”
Following this conversation, Sheron took the Georgia Real Estate Sales License course at 19 years old. For many years, he was the youngest real estate salesman in Georgia. This course of events steered Sheron towards a career in the real estate industry, but he was still unsure which aspect of the multi-faceted industry he would enter.
A family friend of Sheron’s recently sold their company in the public space, and he went to work them in their family office for a time, marking his official entrance into the real estate industry.
After graduating, Sheron found himself with a wealth of knowledge and not many individuals willing to listen to his advice. In the late 1960s, he decided to go into business independently. Sheron approached a Savings and Loans Association with a request for a loan to secure five construction lots. After following some much-needed advice from a loan professional, Sheron secured a single construction lot and entered the luxury home sphere.
Sheron said, “It’s amazing how many people took a listing on my houses…very well-known people. We grew up at a very interesting time.”
For a time, Sheron built homes in Sandy Springs. When prices began to escalate, he noticed a shift in interest in favor of Cobb County. Following this shift in the market, Sheron moved his company to Buckhead and began constructing large mansions, which acted as the focus of his business for many years.
Sheron said, “The building industry here locally was made up of mom-and-pop operators. We didn’t have the big companies that had landed in Atlanta yet… Those were the days when you knew everybody. I can’t say that today.”
Once upon a time, Sheron decided to construct the largest spec home in the country. When Sheron embarked on this adventure, he viewed it as a fantastic way to enter the market.
After clearing the plans with the bank, Sheron began constructing a home on a one-acre lot in a neighborhood off West Paces Ferry Road. Sheron shared that he purchased the one-acre lot in 1974 for $25,000, a figure unheard of in the current market. Today, the same lot would be valued at well over $1 million.
Priced from around $325,000, the home sprawled across 8,000 square feet and incorporated Greek revival elements. The residence has since experienced add-ons but originally contained nine bathrooms, a freestanding hand-built circular staircase, his and her bathrooms, European concepts and more!
Sheron said, “That was the largest spec house built in Atlanta to that date.”
The project garnered quite a bit of public attention, including the eye of newspaper outlets, television stations and more which quickly led to the sale of the home. After completing the 8,000-square-foot home, Sheron set his sights on larger horizons, which included even bigger constructions. Soon after, his company constructed a 12,000-square-foot home priced at $500,000, which would easily surpass $4 million in value in today’s market.
At this point, Sheron and his company were gaining attention across the country and were eventually contacted by Professional Builder Magazine for an interview.
“I was very fortunate over the years to be featured in some of the developments that we did later on in the magazine. People started calling from all over… All of a sudden, I’m turning on the nightly news and see yours truly!”
The buzz led to career-defining phone calls from internationally recognized outlets, including ABC, the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine. It also led to a partnership with WSB news station, where Sheron became a regular guest on their talk show.
For Sheron, entering the land development business was a natural next step. In the 1970s, the market experienced a downturn and a surplus of lots. He shared that they had over 15,000 lots in the market to absorb. The shift led the company to halt purchasing lots from other developers and transition into becoming a developer themselves.
The transition also broadened the company’s horizon and shifted the focus away from exclusively building single-family residences to multi-family developments and later, commercial development.
Always searching for new marketing ideas, the company turned its attention to home security. On top of a curated list of amenities offered to buyers, Sheron and his team thought it would be beneficial to include a home security feature. At the time, very few spec builders and custom builders offered security packages and then only when requested by the homeowner.
After searching through the marketplace, Sheron found a system created by Balling United and formed a connection. Eventually, the partnership transformed into a business, Keep Safe. During the downturn in the 1970s, Sheron faced a decision. He had a hand in the homebuilding business and a hand in the security market and could no longer support both ventures. After a candid conversation about which path to take with Charlie Ackerman, Sheron decided to sell his home security business, known today as Ackerman Security Systems.
For three months out of every year, Sheron spent a large portion of his time in the United Kingdom. Through a business associate, he met a prominent family and a piece of property for sale that piqued his interest located in Greater London. While trying to work out a deal, Sheron discovered his friend also held an interest in automated parking systems. In cities structured like London, automobiles are a hindrance and cause unending traffic problems.
After researching automated parking systems internationally, Sheron and his associate wished to create smaller spaces to accommodate more parking and create usable space for sale or rent.
Sheron said, “We set up an office in London and started consulting all over Europe…We opened up in Poland and went to Istanbul, Turkey, over in Ireland and started doing public-private partnerships with municipalities, consultations for airports… We have done [around] 300 consultations for government officials.”
Sheron’s work abroad extends across England, Scotland, Denmark, Eastern Europe and Asia.
Used to the regulations and common issues within the homebuilding sphere in the United States, Sheron began to run into new problems. Building in older cities, it’s common to run into archeological obstacles from uncovering artifacts, forgotten history and more.
Sheron said, “It may say the name Sheron on the door but believe me, I didn’t do all this by myself. I had some great people behind me.”
Always looking for new spaces, Sheron set his eyes on commuter airlines. A friend of his was looking to expand his company, and soon, Sheron bought into the company. Not long after, they were flying all over the southeast. Another venture capital family from Washington D.C. showed an interest in a merger. After a time, the successful venture was sold to Delta Airlines.
In a similar vein to how he felt following the construction of the 8,000-square-foot home, Sheron wanted to go big in the commuter airline business! He found a private commuter airline business experiencing financial hardship and chose to invest. Soon, the company was the premier commuter airline out of the Charlotte-Douglas Airport.
Sheron was extremely involved with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, an organization near and dear to his heart. When he went out on his own, he immediately became an HBA member, leading to lifelong connections.
He started as the head of the North Fulton chapter and proceeded to climb the ladder of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Atlanta, eventually becoming president of the organization. He served two terms when the Homeowners Warranty Program was introduced, a divisive situation locally and nationally. Naturally, Sheron also became a member of the National Board of Directors and now holds the title of Life Director. Sheron’s experience also includes serving as chairman of the NAHB Legal and Technical Assistance Committee.
Sheron shared, “I whole heartily endorse anybody, whatever field they’re in, to be a member of their local association.”
When asked what the most rewarding part of his career was, Sheron responded that the feeling of accomplishment when driving past his past projects as well as his contribution to his local community and internationally gives him great satisfaction. He also shared that he serves on the board of a few professional 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, mentoring young industry members.
Sheron said, “I try to do the best I can to give back.”
Before the interview’s conclusion, Sheron shared that he is currently sitting on the sidelines with a few projects on hold to see how the market fairs.
To connect with The Sheron Group or Charles Sheron, he encourages listeners to connect with him on social media.
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The Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio “Legends of Real Estate” segment, presented by Denim Marketing, highlights the movers and shakers in the Atlanta real estate industry – the home builders, developers, Realtors and suppliers working to provide the American dream for Atlantans. For more information on how you can be featured as a guest, contact Denim Marketing at 770-383-3360 or fill out the Atlanta Real Estate Forum contact form. Subscribe to the Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio podcast on iTunes, and if you like this week’s show, be sure to rate it.