James Fulton has 17 years of HVACR experience, making him among the most experienced of this year’s Top 40 Under 40 recipients.
Shortly after earning an associate degree in business from Tarrant County College, he was on the lookout for a job. He happened to meet Bill Boyd, the founder of AC Supply, in the fall of 2000. That next spring, at the age of 21, Bill and his son Randy offered Fulton a job at AC Supply.
For his first three months, Fulton worked in the warehouse as a driver.
“This position helped me learn part numbers, where things were located in the warehouse, and the location of several of our key accounts,” Fulton said. “Holding this position is why I have come in several times over the years on my own time to rearrange warehouses to become more efficient.”
From there, he was promoted to the position of counter sales — a position he held for three years.
“By listening to customers, I went from being a kid who knew nothing about HVAC to actually understanding how an HVAC system works,” Fulton said. “This job is the reason I started taking night classes at Tarrant County College in their HVAC program.”
To this day, Fulton said he still likes to hang out at the counter from time to time.
“I love the multitasking aspect of answering phones, typing orders, and helping customers in person,” he said. “There is a flow to that job; it’s almost like a bug. Once you get it, you really enjoy it.”
After his stint as a counter salesman, he became an outside salesman, where he received a customer list, a Mapsco, and was told to do everything he can to help his contracting customers.
“This job taught me so many lessons, including patience, persistence, overcoming objections, pricing, and more,” he said. “But, most importantly, it taught me how to listen. Not right away, but over time it became apparent that asking the right questions and listening to customers’ answers was the most important part of my job.”
Today, Fulton, 39, serves as a sales manager — a position he’s held for the last 10 years.
“When I first took this position, I had two employees who were once my counterpart, but now I was their boss,” Fulton said. “I was at least 30-years younger than them, and I had to prove myself as a leader and show them that I had the best interests of the company and my employees in mind with every decision I made. Over the years, I’ve made several bad decisions. And maybe a good one or two as well. But my team knows that any decision I make is with the best of intentions in mind.”
Fulton credits HVACR distribution as the catalyst of his ability to grow as a professional.
“This industry has taught me so much about how to handle my business in the right way,” he said. “We all have fun.”
When it comes to offering advice for the up and comers, Fulton said to never stop learning. “Know what is new in the industry and learn all you can about it,” he said. “Whenever I get a chance to speak in front of the HVAC students at Tarrant County College I encourage them to learn two things: how to run and understand a heat load and inverter equipment. Heat loads are now a part of the code and are required to pull a permit. Most contractors do not employ someone who understands how to run a load and, more importantly, how to interpret it. Inverter equipment is the future of our industry. We are an old industry. Those who have been doing this a long time generally do not like to learn the new technology and a lot of times do not understand how to work on or install new forms of equipment. If a new professional in this industry knows and understands inverter equipment, they will be forever employed.”
Fulton’s mantle is decorated with numerous honors, including the LG Distributor of the Year in 2017, the LG Technical Service Advisor, and LG Technical Service Advisory Board Member.
When he’s not providing award-winning service, he loves spending time with his 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son and, when he can, enjoys sneaking onto a golf course.
Every Wednesday, Distribution Trends magazine will feature a full profile on one of its 2018 Top 40 Under 40 winners. To see the list in its entirety, visit http://bit.ly/DT2018Top40. To see each of the full Top 40 features, visit http://bit.ly/DT2018Top40U40.
Publication date: 8/01/2018