William “Billy” Holton III, inventor of the Top Hat, has always been an entrepreneur and innovator at heart. Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, he cites a lifetime of experiences leading to his inventions; working as an electricians’ helper with his father to manufacturing industrial control systems.
The idea for the Top Hat came to Billy while remodeling a series of older commercial properties with his two business partners. It became evident that there was a need to find a way to quickly cover existing 4” square junction boxes that required one to two extension rings as removing extension rings to add or rewire existing circuits is difficult and extremely time-consuming. The Top Hat does just that by saving time, reducing wire fatigue, and insulation breaks due to the ample space it offers and eliminating the need to cram the conductors into the extension rings.
Billy’s design went through several incarnations over the years. While the first design was a rectangular design with captive screws, future iterations blossomed into a sleek, simple, more tapered design allowing easy access to exterior screws from any angle. The tapered design also allows for the Top Hats to be nested for ease of shipment and storage. Selecting a material that could be plenum rated was also in the final design and this feature makes the Top Hat a must have for electricians everywhere.
A time-consuming, yet necessary part of the invention process was obtaining the patents and UL approval. The key to the patents was in finding the right patent attorney; the third time was the charm in finding the right attorney to handle the work. UL was a daunting task for a first-time inventor, however, Billy has a great deal of appreciation for the help and prompt communication offered by UL.
The final step for any great idea is in bringing it to market. In order to bring the Top Hat to market Billy had to find the right partner. Billy and Rack-A-Tiers found each other through a mutual industry friend, Carter Drinkard with E.F. Lombardi. This partnership proved to be exactly what the Top Hat needed!
Billy Holton’s mind is never ceasing, always turning and working to find solutions to problems in the contracting/engineering world. Billy is always thinking outside the box, searching for ways to improve the product and the customer experience! The creation and production of the Top Hat is no different; cost effectiveness and industry efficiency are always Billy’s top priorities.