Tales from the road: Balancing work and life

May 6, 2024
With three trucks under his care, it can be somewhat of a challenge for this Mac Tools distributor to keep his work and personal life balanced, but he makes it work.

Mac Tools distributor David Fulkman came into the world of tool distribution from aviation, where he built cabinets for Boeing and Airbuses. After witnessing a number of layoffs in that industry in 2015, Fulkman had grown tired of the instability and decided it was time to move on.  

In between aviation, Fulkman worked in auto body where he was introduced to a Mac Tools distributor and, subsequently, the world of tool distribution. A representative from Mac Tools invited Fulkman and his wife out to dinner and explained to them this new world of tool distribution and what they could expect from a career in it. That’s when the ball started rolling and it hasn’t stopped since.  

Three trucks

Currently, Fulkman runs three trucks and feels that his biggest challenge as a multi-route business is finding the right employee. When he interviews candidates, he lets them know right off the bat that they’re not signing up for a “clock-in and clock-out" kind of job, as Fulkman puts it.  

“Being a tool man isn’t for everybody,” says Fulkman. “This is a lifestyle, that’s what I tell my guys. If you’re ready for the lifestyle... this is a little bit more demanding.” 

As a business owner, Fulkman has faced his fair share of challenges and stress. He’s honest with potential employees about the ups and downs this career can bring.  

“Each shop can be a roller coaster,” explains Fulkman. “People are going to come and go. It [can] be good for a year or two, then it can get difficult. If you make yourself uncomfortable and you keep moving forward, it can be more steady.” 

When getting an employee settled on the truck, Fulkman stays behind to do all of their back work for them. He runs pickups and drop-offs, performs demos, and anything else that helps keep the employee moving and the truck on the road. 

Keeping things tidy

Fulkman puts a little extra love into each of his trucks by keeping them clean and organized and he instills those same values in his employees.  

The distributor frequently receives comments from customers complimenting the cleanliness of his truck. He makes cleaning, stocking, and customer service his top priority. 

As a distributor, Fulkman operates with a “no B.S.” policy, delivering on his promises and only sticking with the facts when it comes to his customers. This reliability comes out in many ways, from being there for his customers when they have questions or concerns, to keeping himself educated on new releases in the industry or finding ways he can save his customers more money.  

Balancing work and life

Even though Fulkman understands the demands of his job and the necessity of keeping himself available to his customers, he still tries to maintain a healthy work-life balance. When he first started, he was working 14-16 hours a day, but now that he’s found a comfortable routine he’s able to devote more of his time to his three sons and wife. 

“I’m more focused on that now,” says Fulkman, talking about his relationship with his family. “We take vacations quarterly as a family to kind of reset.” 

A work-life balance to Fulkman looks like setting time aside for his family, as well as waiting till the morning to get back to somebody if it’s too late.   

Fulkman’s oldest son, seven, tells his dad that he wants to run his own truck. When his son joins him on a ride, he sells Fulkman’s customers candy and jerky at every stop and offers his help at every turn.  

“The guys love seeing him on the route,” Fulkman says. “And I enjoy getting him out there. He helps wipe down carts and toolboxes... he loves it.” 

In the distant future, Fulkman hopes that his son will join him, and his business can become a family business. 

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