HOW DID YOU ENTER THE LIGHTING INDUSTRY?
My whole family is in the industry; it’s in my blood. I’ve been hanging lighting fixtures since I could walk and spent my summer vacations in showrooms. My father started with Progress Lighting in the late ’70s and created his own rep agency, Hulett and Associates, in 1981. I bought the business in 2013, and five years later merged with Spectrum Lighting to create Spectrum Hulett Group.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN?
There have been several big changes. The decorative side of lighting, for example, has evolved tremendously. There used to be a lot of floral stained glass and those giant candelabra chandeliers. Now, everyone wants Contemporary pieces and streamlined LED fixtures. Another big change has been technology. I remember the days when my father and I would print out a map before going to meet clients. If we got lost or hit traffic, we would have to find a pay phone and give a heads up that we were running late. Now, everything is on your phone. I just think it’s incredibly brilliant. So many people take it for granted, but that little device has completely changed the entire process of how we live our lives and conduct business.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS?
I dedicate everything to my dad, Skip Hulett. He built this company. He always believed in me. It all goes [back] to him.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU KNEW WHEN YOU WERE STARTING OUT?
I think I was lucky. Growing up in the industry, I already knew what to expect. I just wish I would have started earlier. It was very important for me to make it on my own without using my father’s success and good name as a crutch. I established myself and developed my skills with another company in North Carolina before taking over the family business.
WHAT DO YOU ENVISION THE LIGHTING SALES AGENCY OF THE FUTURE TO BE LIKE?
I see them having multiple lines, covering both residential and commercial lighting. New technology has changed the game. You can’t just be a good showroom rep anymore. You must diversify yourself to compete against the internet. Sales agencies of the future have to embrace a dynamic mentality or they’ll be left behind.