Wilkin Heating and Air Conditioning is observing its 70th year in business, and at the same time, Jack Wilkin, the patriarch of the family business, is celebrating his 90th birthday.
In 1948, the late Paul Wilkin and his wife, Helen, opened what was then called Wilkin Appliances on West Main Street in Hillsboro. Two years later, they changed the name to Wilkin Heating and Appliances when they took on the Lennox product line of HVAC products.
After moving the business to East Main Street in 1950 and to the present location at the rear of Beech Street in 1971, what is now Wilkin Heating and Air Conditioning has held the trust of locals for seven decades.
Paul and Helen Wilkin’s son, John — or Jack as he’s known to most people — was there from the beginning.
“I retired back in 1999,” Jack Wilkin said, “and there has been more change from then till now than when Dad and me started this company back in 1948.”
Jack Wilkin has witnessed many changes in technology since then and admitted that he couldn’t even consider servicing the current equipment unless he went back to school for retraining.
“We went from coal furnaces and from there to oil and gas furnaces, then to electric and now into solar heating,” he said. “With the equipment today, it’s totally different than it was back then.”
Jack Wilkin graduated from Hillsboro High School in 1946 and was drafted in 1950, joining the Air Force.
Jack Wilkin said he was two years into his four-year enlistment when the Red Cross called, telling him his father had taken a bad fall and broken his back.
With the help of the Red Cross, Jack Wilkin said, the Air Force granted a hardship discharge because he was the only son in the family at that time.
Upon returning home, he took over the family business and expanded into heating and the emerging technology of air conditioning.
“We signed up with Lennox in 1950 and we’ve been with them ever since,” he said, “and then my son Scott took on Trane about five years ago.”
The torch has now been passed to the fourth generation. Kurstin Wilkin, 27, completed the extensive training program required to service today’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, and is a skilled service technician in her own right.
She is quick to point out that the success of the company is due to the team of installers and service technicians that work with her.
Dave Baker, Kent Knoblauch, Tony Runk, Steve Goble, Brandon Waller and Ben Sexton collectively bring 75 years of expertise to the service vans they drive, she said.
Jack Wilkin and his wife Joan have been married 68 years, and he said that life overall has been good to him — although the past couple of years have seen more doctor visits than he’d like to admit.
“Everybody talks about the golden years,” he said. “But sometimes they get a little tarnished.”
Wilkin Heating and Air Conditioning can be reached at 937-393-2311.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571