STONINGTON, CONN. – Duncklee Cooling & Heating here celebrated its 40th year in business with over 250 people attending on June 11th at its headquarters, while the sky was raining down a few inches every hour. An undaunted Jonathan Duncklee was smiling and greeting people. “We earned this celebration, and no thunder and rain is going to keep us from enjoying ourselves,” he said as he stood just inside his building, where all of the warehouse garage style doors were open.
The fields behind their offices were filling with cars and trucks, as loyal friends and Chambers members joined the celebration. Outside, balloon sculptures 10-ft. tall swayed in the breeze, as a small steel drum band played music under the tents. Inside the open warehouse where people mingled during the stormy weather were food and drinks and a 2-ft. tall ice sculpture bearing the number 40.
Founder and President Les Duncklee opened the family-owned business as L. H. Duncklee Refrigeration Inc. on April 23, 1973, operating out of his home in Pawcatuck, Conn. The company had moved to its current location in Stonington in the Fall of 1999, renovating and expanding its facility to 6,400-sq.ft. on three acres of land.
“My father’s vision has always been to provide customers with premier installation design and specialized customer service,” shared Jonathan, who has been slowly guiding the business’s growth over the past few years. He had worked with his father on weekends, during school vacations and over the summers learning the trade from the ground up. The change over from father to son was a gradual process, as Les who still works at the company, was ready to let go.
There were some highs and lows over the years, particularly during the financial collapse of 2008, when changes in personnel were made, downsizing an entire layer of middle management. The company’s upward movement began the turnaround recognized this past year when Jonathan was named Employer of the Year by the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce. He credits the turnaround on the caliber of his employees, the support of his distributors and suppliers, and his strong connection to the community. He has been involved on a variety of boards such as Big Brothers-Big Sisters and with projects such as the Hygienic Art Park in New London and Coogan Farm in Mystic.
“And I join in supporting one of my vendors, Luxaire Heating and Air Conditioning, who is extremely involved with Make-A-Wish Foundation,” he said.
Jonathan has made some changes to the company’s product lines for both personal and professional reasons. “I have always believed in staying on top of the latest technological changes in cooling and heating products,” Jonathan said. “It is my job as a small businessman to make sure our customer service and products that we offer are the best we can possibly offer.”
He has seen changes in his customer demands with an increase in air conditioning, considered a rare year-round luxury in the 1970s, and the increase in doing business on the Internet. “We have recently developed a mobile-friendly website, recognizing that many people look for heating and cooling technicians through their iPhones and other online devices.“
A special part of the evening was the acknowledgements and presentations by both Tricia Walsh, president of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, and Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. First Selectman of Stonington Ed Haberek Jr., pronounced the day as “Les and Jonathan Duncklee Day” in Stonington. While they were speaking a plane flew overhead with a banner saying “Congratulations Duncklee Inc. on 40 years.”
Also at the event were his primary distributor, ABCO HVACR Supply & Solutions with information on the latest equipment that Duncklee offers. They were a huge part of the event, helping with planning and providing support creating the gift bags. “ABCO, our distributor and supplier, is like a part of our business family, offering us supporting services with marketing, engineering support and training,” Duncklee said.
Duncklee Cooling & Heating offers custom design, installation and service of residential and commercial heating and cooling HVAC systems, and provides the latest in technology available, such as ductless central air conditioning and heat pumps, hybrid/dual fuel cooling and heating systems, geothermal heat pumps, boilers, and tankless water heaters, and offers superior service on all brands.
“And we plan on staying around for a long time,” said Jonathan. “See you at our next decade’s celebration!”