3 Reasons Fultech Solutions Will Remember 2009
A new commercial division, new showroom and new recurring revenues make 2009 memorable for Fultech Solutions.
A decade from now, when Dan Fulmer looks back on 2009, he’ll think of a year during which his company changed a lot.
He’ll know then whether it changed for the better or the worse. Right now, all we can do is marvel at the major changes 15-year-old Fultech Solutions underwent during a year that had the industry reeling from a recession:
- It launched a commercial division
- It hired a commercial staff
- It opened a state-of-the-art green showroom
- It rolled out a recurring revenue model based on service contracts
Changes during 2009 weren’t uncommon. Lots of CE pros scrambled to reposition in an adjusting market, but that’s not what Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fultech did, according to CEO and chairman Dan Fulmer. He says all these changes are part of long-term, strategic plans that happened to come to fruition during 2009.
About 15 percent of Fultech’s business was commercial prior to 2009. Now, with the advent of its dedicated commercial division, Fultech Commercial LLC, it’s 50 percent.
Over the previous 10 years, Fulmer says he often considered getting more into commercial installations. It was the “coming together of several things in the universe” that led him to take the leap.
- Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
- Principals: Dan Fulmer, CEO and chairman
- Revenues (2008): $1.2 million
- Years in Business: 15
- Number of employees: 5 full-time, 2 part-time, 2 installer subs
- Residential/Commercial Split: 50%/50%
- Specialty: High-end custom residential and commercial systems; Integrating sub-systems of homes and businesses
- Top 5 Brands: Crestron, Klipsch, Extron, Scala, Runco
- FYI: Keep on keeping on even in the toughest times.
Fulmer ran into an old friend in 2008, a former commercial installer, who suggested Fultech would do well in the commercial market. This sort of reinforced a point Fultech’s Crestron rep, Jason Fiveash, had been emphasizing to Fulmer. Fiveash, who died after a tragic car accident in February, “really pushed me to launch a commercial division,” Fulmer says.
Fulmer presented the idea to Fultech’s board of advisors — “five business guys who are older and smarter than me” — and they liked the idea, too.
One problem, Fulmer acknowledges, was that “I didn’t know enough about the commercial market.” So next came the search for “existing, experienced and qualified local people with existing relationships and reputations we could launch from,” he says.
Fultech landed a buyer that had strong relationships with several key vendors. Then Fulmer hired “a complete team of experienced sales, buyers and general staff,” he says. “We wanted to staff the division so it could take off at a running pace, which we were able to do.”
Fultech Commercial LLC launched in early 2009 as a completely separate division, and Fulmer says the installers and sales associates rarely overlap.
So far, the commercial division is doing well — or poorly — depending on how you look at it. Commercial sales are a bit short of expectations, but those expectations might be skewed. “The commercial side has picked up for us during the last part of the year,” Fulmer says.
Tom has been covering consumer electronics for six years. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Now, as senior writer/technology editor of CE Pro magazine since 2003, he dabbles in all departments and offers expertise in marketing. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Tom at email@example.com
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