Name: Hal Kelton, AHC/CDC, CDT
Company, Location, and Years of Service: Founder and President of DOORDATA Solutions, Inc., for 3 years now and Co-owner and CEO of Sierra Pacific Sales & Consulting, Inc., for 7 years. Both companies are located in Northern California.
Summary of Previous Industry Experience: 6 years with ASSA ABLOY – 2 as the Western Regional Sales Manager for Vingcard PERSONA and 4 as the Northern California Territory Sales Manager for ESSEX Industries. 6 years in contract hardware distribution. 5 years as a finish carpenter and general contractor specializing in door, frame, and hardware installations.
Total Years in the Industry: 24 Years
How did you get your start in the door and hardware industry?
A general contractor I had previously worked for bought a contract hardware company and asked if I would like to manage its shop. I took the job and quickly realized that I would be managing myself. We had a one-person crew and I was it. From hollow metal fabrication, wood door machining, inventory management, keying systems, shipping and receiving, I felt as though I was the baseball Bugs Bunny of the hardware industry.
Who have been mentors to you during your career?
I have been fortunate to have many mentors throughout my career, most for whom I was lucky enough to work. My first mentors in the industry were Jim Oller and Ray Sobeck, owners of Broadway Builders Hardware were I began. They were the odd couple for sure, and I was able to see how they used each other’s strengths to provide a great service to their customers. Andy and Ellen Medeiros at Trim Tech Inc. gave me the opportunity to hone my skills through national DHI courses while working for them. I received both my AHC and CDC credentials while at Trim Tech. The late Mike Wolf of Walters and Wolf Interiors was a great mentor as well, always showing me how to consider multiple points of view before trying to convince someone of my own and that it’s OK (and a good thing) to be passionate about your job. I continue to meet knowledgeable, friendly, and seasoned professionals in our industry who are willing to share their experiences and offer guidance and support.
What changes have you seen in the industry over the years?
I’ve seen and heard of more and more distributors eager to install the products they sell. This complete package is something I did from day one and it’s very interesting to see the popularity of the installed package taking hold across the country. As the building standards and codes become more sophisticated and strict, it’s essential that the carpenters installing the hardware be under the employment and guidance of contract hardware distribution.
What’s the best part of your current job?
I enjoy getting out and meeting with customers and end users. As a sales rep, this is job number 1 and better than any desk job I could think of. At DOORDATA Solutions, we create software solutions that enable people to work faster and more efficiently in the field. It’s been very rewarding to work with colleagues around the country who are providing feedback as well as praise of a job well done.
What career would you pursue if you weren’t working in the hardware industry?
I would like to work for an employment firm recruiting employees. I’ve always enjoyed helping friends better identify their passions and pursue them.
What’s your favorite hardware-related product?
The door hinge. Think about it, without hinges, doors and everything related wouldn’t need to exist.
What would your colleagues/customers be surprised to learn about you?
I’m a very shy person and look for the nearest corner of the room at any large gathering or social event. My wife Wendy can attest to this!
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment in business has been the volume of volunteer work I’ve contributed to the industry for the past 14 years. Whether it was teaching a local DHI chapter class or, for the last 10 years, helping teach various national DHI courses around the country with some of the greatest people and colleagues anyone could hope to meet.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I have two companies, one of which is a startup software development firm, two wonderful young children — a baby and a toddler, and a beautiful and supportive wife. I have no free time and I love it. OK, when I have free time, I like to mow the lawn.
What words of wisdom would you give to people entering the industry?
Educate yourself, be humble, latch on to a mentor (or mentors), discover your passion, and go for it.