ool equipment inventor and industry veteran Paul Fulmer died Jan. 11 of mesothelioma. He was 69.
Fulmer conducted breakthrough research leading to modern pool finishes and equipment manufacturing, and helped establish the Horner Institute of Technology and Training for his longtime employer, the Team Horner Group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He also was a founder of Riviera Pools.
“Paul was a mechanical genius,” said Bill Kent, president/owner of Horner and a friend for more than three decades. “We called him The Guru. He knew everything, and our educational program was essentially built around his knowledge.”
Born in Philadelphia in 1940, Fulmer relocated to South Florida in the mid-1960s, where he worked as a service technician with Pace Industries. After co-founding Rivera Pools, he helped grow the firm into one of the biggest pool companies in Fort Lauderdale.
He transitioned to Horner in 1979, where he held key R&D positions.
In the early ’80s, Fulmer worked with Florida Heat Pump to design the first successful swimming pool heat pump on the U.S. market.
He also was instrumental in the creation of factory-blended aggregate finishes through his work on the Diamond Brite product, which replaced the old marcite technique. During the ’70s, marcite contained asbestos, which may have been responsible for his illness.
After Horner purchased Lectranator (now AutoPilot) in 1992, Fulmer’s work led to several chlorine generator patents, which are still in use.
“He was a creator, an inventor,” said his daughter, Stacey Ostermann, who also worked at Horner in the late ’80s. “I remember as a kid we were always moving to a new house so he could build a new pool. He always wanted to find a better, more efficient, more cost-effective, safer way of doing things.”
Fulmer semi-retired in 1996, taking on a consulting role with Horner. In 2006, he moved to Texas to be closer to his children and their families.
Outside of his pool industry career, Fulmer was an avid traveler, taking vacations to the Grand Canyon, England, the Rio Grande and Honduras in 2009 alone. A fan of the great outdoors, he took his RV to all but one of the national parks in the United States.
He also was a pilot, a scuba diver and an enthusiastic go-kart racer.
“He lived a really full life,” Ostermann said. “No regrets. He did just about everything he ever wanted to do.”
He is survived by daughters Kimberly and Stacey, three granddaughters and his ex-wife, Joan. The family requests any donations made in honor of Fulmer go to the National Parks Service or Universal Health Resources Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.