Family Business

Published 6:12 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When he was 12 years old, Ed Hampton went to work for his father’s air conditioning business. As the owner’s son, he could have been given special treatment or eased into things with a cushy summer job in the office. 

He was not afforded any of those luxuries.

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His job was to crawl through the dirt and darkness in the confined spaces underneath buildings during the crushing heat of a Mississippi summer.

“Eagle Lake condos,” Hampton said, recalling his first job. “They were building them up there and that’s where I started out, was doing insulation ducts. I was put in the tightest spots because I was little.”

More than three decades later, Hampton is still willing to crawl around under houses if he needs to, but he’s also a bit bigger now — physically and in stature. Those early dirty jobs were his first lessons in a lifelong education about all facets of the heating and air conditioning business that has led him to own his own company, Ed Hampton Air Conditioning and Heating.

It hasn’t always been an easy road, but it has been a rewarding one.

“He believed in working hard. He didn’t give you anything. He wanted me to realize nothing comes free, and if you want it you have to work for it,” Ed Hampton said, referring to his father Jim. “We had our arguments, but most of the time he was right. Looking back, there’s nowhere I’d have rather been or worked.”

Jim Hampton started the family business in the early 1970s and owned it until his death in 2010. In the early 1980s Ed started working for him as part of an installation crew. Jim’s idea was to teach his son the heating and air conditioning business from the ground up — not just the business side of things, but even the little things such as how to do basic repairs and installations.

“If it was the toughest job to do he picked me, and if something went wrong I got yelled at,” Ed Hampton said.

After graduating from high school, Ed did briefly drift toward a different career path, but “it backfired,” he recalled with a laugh. Following a stint at Hinds Community College, Ed gravitated back to the family business.

“That was Ed’s decision. He didn’t feel like he wanted to go to college. He wanted to go work for his daddy,” said Hampton’s mother, Mary Margaret Brabston, who is the bookkeeper for her son’s company. “I was a little worried, but I think his daddy was happy. He got a lot of good experience working for his dad.”

Ed worked for his father until 2010. Hampton Air dissolved after Jim’s death and Ed stepped out on his own a year later to form his own company.

“There’s no better feeling than having your own business. This is what I always worked for. I intended to take over Daddy’s business, but it didn’t work out,” Ed Hampton said. “It gave me a good feeling knowing I went out on my own and started from scratch. I had a lot of sentimental stuff I had to leave behind. But Daddy would have said to keep on doing what you’re doing.”

Seven years later, Ed Hampton Air Conditioning and Heating is thriving. There are a half-dozen employees and his client list includes a number of longtime customers who have stuck with him through the years. Good work and word of mouth have allowed the business to grow.

“I go out and change something out that I put there 25 years ago,” Ed said. “It’s a big plus that people know who you are and how to get hold of you. It’s helped a lot for people to know me.”

And for people to know the Hampton name. The name of the business might have changed, but a family tradition has lived on — and Hampton is hoping it can continue through another generation.

Hampton has been married to his wife, Bobbie, for 14 years. They have two children of their own and two from previous marriages, as well as 11 grandchildren. One of the stepchildren, 24-year-old Brandon Marshall, works for Hampton. Ed said he is being groomed as a successor, much in the same way his father trained him to one day take over the family business.

“My stepson Brandon is coming along,” Ed Hampton said. “He’s doing service and hopefully one day I’ll be able to pass the torch on to him.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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