3 Reasons Fultech Solutions Will Remember 2009
A new commercial division, new showroom and new recurring revenues make 2009 memorable for Fultech Solutions.
Getting Older and Wiser
At 40 and having founded Fultech 15 years ago, Fulmer feels like he grew up in the custom electronics industry. As such, he struggled along with the industry to figure out recurring revenues. When clients pay big dollars for a custom system it’s difficult to ask them to pay extra for service, he acknowledges.
“But when you own a Ferrari or a boat, you expect to pay to keep it maintained. Quality things require maintenance,” Fulmer says.
Another factor in adapting his business approach, Fulmer says, has been input from industry and business veterans. Fultech has its board of advisors. Plus, Fulmer has been teaching classes at EHX and other industry events for years. “I always seem to learn from the people in the class and I end up leaving with more knowledge than I brought,” he says. Fultech has also enlisted a consultant.
- 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.
In fact, many of Fultech’s changes that came to fruition in 2009 are the result of Fulmer addressing what he calls problems with his business model of 14 years.
“I’m a semi-typical entrepreneur in that I’m ADHD and all over the place,” he jokes. “I’m good at forethought but not good at organization and planning. I knew what I wanted but didn’t know how to get there.”
One day, Fulmer Googled “organizers” and found a company to help systemize Fultech’s processes. “I learned the value of figuring out what I’m good at, and bringing in people to help in certain areas that I’m not good at,” he says. “I ended up hiring a CFO.”
That introspective phase was humbling, Fulmer acknowledges. “But over the years you realize that you don’t know as much as you thought. You realize you can’t do everything, you can’t wear every hat. It was somewhat humbling but it helps me to do more of what I like to do — designing systems — as opposed to what I’m not good at — finance.”
As a young man growing up in the industry, Fulmer says he paid attention to what the older company owners were doing business-wise. “How do you make this business work? How do you handle HR? How do you do this and that? If you shun that, good luck being successful.”
After 14 successful years, Fulmer’s openness to input and willingness to evolve paved the way for shaking things up in 2009. The company was debt-free for 14 years before taking on seven-year SBA loans to fund its new ventures. Fulmer expects to pay them off in four to six years.
It’s not a gamble, Fulmer says, because the investments are part of a conservative effort to stabilize the company and stimulate growth.
Time will tell.
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 protected]
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