Major Pulaski-based fourth-generation family owned manufacturer places safety as priority
By Lou Sorendo
It’s going to take more than a global pandemic to cool down a local company known as the heat transfer innovators.
Fulton Companies represents a global group of companies primarily involved in sales, service, and manufacturing of commercial and industrial heat transfer equipment. That includes steam and hot water-hydronic boilers, thermal fluid (hot oil) heaters, and a full range of ancillary equipment.
The company employs 300 workers, 275 of which are full time. It is Oswego County’s third largest private employer behind only Novelis and Huhtamaki.
During the first phases of recovery from COVID-19, Fulton Companies is focused on “keeping everyone safe and fulfilling orders to our customers, especially those in essential businesses,” according to Bram Palm, president and CEO of Fulton Companies. “We will continue to invest in new products, making manufacturing improvements and come out of this as a stronger team and company.”
Fulton Companies’ headquarters remain in Pulaski, where the fourth generation of the Palm family has begun making its impression on the family business.
Palm’s daughter, Allison Brown, represents the fourth generation at the business. After working for a large management-consulting firm in New York City, she is now on board at Fulton Companies and is playing a key role in implementing business strategy.
“We are fortunate that we have not had any layoffs,” Palm said. “More than 75% of our business is in support of essential businesses, and we take that role very seriously.”
Palm said to protect employees, Fulton Companies has implemented all of the recommended adjustments such as staggering shifts, remote working and implementing new safety procedures in all of its facilities.
“We cannot predict the future economic impact of this crisis, but we are hopeful and do not expect permanent job losses at this time,” Palm said. “We believe the economy will rebound at some point, and Fulton will need to meet the demand for boilers when that point returns.”
Palm said for the business to return to full strength, “we would need to see a rebound in the hospitality industry and a return to normal levels of capital spending on new buildings and equipment upgrades.”
Waiting for total impact
About 80% of manufacturers expect that the pandemic will have a financial impact on their business, according to a recent survey of the National Association of Manufacturers.
“We do expect COVID-19 to impact the bottom line, though we are not yet sure to what degree it will be affected,” Brown said. “Some areas remain strong, like sales for essential businesses such as food production and hospitals while other areas have seen a decline, such as hospitality and new building construction.”
The majority of those in the manufacturing sector (53%) expect COVID-19 to impact their operations, the NAM survey reported.
“We have had to quickly adapt to an entirely new way of working — one with social distancing, a focus on hand washing and disinfecting and wearing masks,” Brown said.
Palm said the factory floor layout and ample square footage gives ample space for production employees to be spread apart.
“Our production teams have handled these difficult and stressful changes with strength and great leadership,” Palm said. “Our whole company is very proud of the way they have handled the situation.”
The primary concern for leadership at Fulton Companies during the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping employees safe.
“We have done everything we can to make our facilities a safe place to be,” Palm said. “We also have general business concerns caused by the pandemic: a global recession and uncertainty in general.
“Fulton Companies has made it through many economic cycles since 1949 and will get through this one.”
Fulton Boiler Works, Inc. was founded in 1949 by Lewis Palm to provide vertical tubeless boilers for dry cleaners. Since then, other companies such as Fulton Thermal Corporation and Fulton Heating Solutions, Inc. have been formed, offering products to many other industries including food processing, health care, and building heat.