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LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED SINCE 1961

Provided by Jim Millikan

Dave Sylvester got his first taste of furnace work in the 1940’s.  As a teenager, he helped install furnaces his father sold at his local hardware store. After high school, he worked for a couple of local heating businesses and then spent some time working at Ford in Indianapolis.  By 1961 married and with two daughters he decided it was time to give his own business at try.  With support of his wife Romona, who was really a driving force in this new endeavor, and his two daughters, he decided to open a sheet metal company in Anderson.  His plan was to specialize in metal fabrication and guttering.  The first question at the family dinner table was what do we name this new Company?  The final decision was to use letters for each of their names.  So, there was an NA for Nancy, their youngest daughter, R for Romona, D for Dave and they closed out the name with CO for their oldest daughter Connie.  And thus, NARDCO Sheet Metal Opened its doors on Pendleton Ave.

It wasn’t long after they opened their doors on Pendleton Avenue that Dave and Romona decided to expand the sheet metal and gutter making business and sell heating and air conditioning equipment as well. They contacted the Round Oak Furnace Company and added their heating and air conditioning equipment to their product line.

The Company began to grow and prosper and by 1965 they added two young men, Jerry Pitcock and Jim Millikan to their staff.  It just so happened that the boys were dating their daughters!  Jim has said many times he didn’t know if Dave offering him a job at age 15 was because he needed his help or just wanted to reduce the time Jim spent on their front porch swing holding his daughter’s hand after school!

By 1968, Nardco had outgrown his shop on Pendleton Avenue and Dave and Romona decided to purchase a property on Delaware Street, just a block south of the then Saint John’s Hospital.  The original building was built in the early 1900’s and for years was the home of Penrod Machine Shop.

Moving from a building of approximately 1200 square feet to a building with a little over 8,800 square feet was an amazing milestone in the history of Nardco.  The original building had been added onto twice and provided plenty of room for a showroom, multiple offices, parts area, a complete metal shop, warehouse area and even a bay to park trucks in at night.  Though remodeled a few times, 63 years later the building at 2327 Delaware Street is still an excellent home and location for Nardco.

By 1981 Dave was confident that Jim and Jerry could continue his tradition of providing quality service and installations for the people of Madison and surrounding counties.  He then stepped down to take a position heading up the heating and air conditioning technical training for Ivy Tech in Muncie and later in South Bend. He was confident that he had instilled in his son-in-law his belief that honesty and integrity were the most important qualities needed for a small business to succeed.

Jim and Jerry continued to work together to make Nardco a well-respected name in the area.  By 1981, they had taken on the line of General Electric heating and air Conditioning equipment, and in 1987, were thrilled when that part of General Electric was sold to the Trane Company.  Trane was and still is the leader in heating and air conditioning technology and one of the most respected corporations in an ever-expanding industry.  Jim has often told customers, “Lots of companies build quality and efficient equipment but not manufacturer stands behind their product, their customers, and their dealers like the folks at Trane.”

By 1987 Jerry and wife, Nancy decided they wanted to change course and own their own wholesale company. So, they sold their share of Nardco to Jim and Connie and purchased Dixon Electric, a local electrical supply house that had been serving the Anderson Community for many years.  With an interest in real estate, Jerry also ventured into a career of home inspections and managing rental properties for others.  Later, he opened the Sand Castle Property Management Company in Anderson.

Jim and Connie continued to own, operate, and grow the business for the next 33 years.  They expanded the areas served by Nardco to several areas including Hamilton and Marion Counties.  Nardco is often recognized as one of the Trane Companies leading dealers in their nationally acclaimed Trane Comfort Specialist program.

Showing Nardco’s commitment to the heating and air conditioning trade in Indiana, Jim served for several years on the Board of Directors, including two terms as Board President of the Indiana State Heating and Air Conditioning Association which strives to help Indiana’s heating and air conditioning companies achieve a high standard of excellence in customer and community service.

In 2021, after 47 consecutive years owning and operating Nardco, Jim & Connie decided it was time for him to retire. They love to travel, spend time with family, and want to enjoy their “golden years” together.  There were many larger Indianapolis companies looking to expand into the Anderson area, so finding a buyer for the business would not be a difficult task.   However, it was truly Jim & Connie’s desire to see Nardco remain a small family-owned business; one that would continue to focus on providing great customer service and ensuring that homeowners got quality work at a fair and reasonable price.

One day a gentleman washing windows at the Millikan home informed Jim that he knew a young man that was interested in buying a small family-owned heating and air conditioning company.  A week later, Jim and Seth Parker had dinner together.  A few months later, Jim and Connie’s dream retirement situation became a reality.  Seth purchased Nardco with a desire and passion to continue the tradition of customer service and quality.

Over the next few months as Jim mentored Seth and eased out of the operation, he realized that selling Nardco to Seth was a wise decision.  Seth’s youth, vitality, knowledge, education and desire to fulfill his lifelong dream were factors in making this decision.  Whatever brought them together to this place in both of their lives, they knew the future was bright for both.  As they know the family tradition of quality service with integrity and fair pricing will continue for years to come.

Looking back the Millikans have many great memories of the years owning and operating Nardco Heating and Air Conditioning.  Many wonderful customers and employees made the business not only successful but also enjoyable.  Jim is one of the few people in this world that in 47 years of dealing with thousands of customers and many different employees can say there was never a day he didn’t enjoy getting up and going to the office.

When Dave and Romona gave Jim a job after school at age 15, he wondered about their motivation.  But 55 years later, after 47 consecutive years in the business and nearly 51 years being happily married to their daughter, he knows they made the right decision.