Duane Duncan’s life story began on Packard Court in the city of Niagara Falls — less than five minutes away from the Hyde Park Golf Course. He then dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy for the next four years.
But it was self-determination and hard work to succeed that carried him through his career from working in the plants to then starting his own business, Duncan’s Heating and Cooling Corp., to now owning Niagara Industrial Mechanical Services, located on Hyde Park Boulevard. The company has provided services in structural welding, machine repair, fabrication, pipe fitting and millwrighting for customers like FedEx, Niagara Sheets and Unifrax.
And while he now resides in Florida, the 61-year old entrepreneur still has a connection with the Cataract City, specifically with the Hyde Park Golf Club as some of the other golfers he interacted with were only a few years older than him when he was a former member 15 to 20 years ago.
So there was no hesitation when Duncan decided to pay it forward and extend a helping hand to the club and facility, which helped him become the person he is today.
Accompanied by his wife, Veronika, and his two children, Duncan announced in a small gathering Tuesday he was donating $7,500 to the Hyde Park Club to help enhance club operations and presented the check to its president, Greg O’Callaghan. Additionally, Duncan announced Niagara Industrial Mechanical Services would serve as the corporate sponsor for the club’s championship event set for July 21-23.
“I’m 100% behind (helping Hyde Park Golf Club),” Duncan said. “I called these guys and said, ‘OK, we want to do stuff for people.’ We want to help these guys. And I also want to help them grow the game. … I’ve offered to buy golf clubs for the kids who are less fortunate, who can’t afford them. Tell me what I can do to help.”
Also in attendance for the event was Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino. With the city looking to replenish its small business sector that was drastically hit by the COVID-19 pandemic the past three years, Restaino believes having local corporations invest in the city is a vital part in building a community.
“Every entrepreneur that’s out there, everyone who wants to take the chance that their idea is going to be profitable — that benefits our community,” Restaino said. “They may be small. They may (have) four or five employees. They may be 43-plus, but every one of them is important to the fabric of the community.”
While there is still a board meeting on the books that will determine how Duncan’s donation will be spent, Hyde Park Golf Club Vice President John Spanbauer said the group has discussed creating a scholarship fund and finding more ways to bring junior golfers into the club and play on the course.
“We do not have youth playing the game of golf anymore in the city of Niagara Falls and we need to do that for this course to be successful,” said Spanbauer, a Niagara Falls resident. “Because right now, we have a lot of seniors and middle-aged men playing this course and we don’t see the young people filling in for the people that can no longer play.”
Duncan believes being an entrepreneur is getting people to come together for a common goal and with consistency, anyone can turn this into a career path. One of the many goals Duncan hopes to pursue is opening an orphanage in Ukraine to help displaced children as a result of the war in Russia — a plan with personal meaning as his wife is Ukrainian.
Another example is when his company obtained a contract to build freeze dryers for companies such as Pfizer and Bristol-Myers in a collaboration with IMA Life. And, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in anticipation of a future increase in demand, Duncan oversaw training schools for his employees to improve their crafts.
Through all of his endeavors, Duncan emphasized his main drive is helping as many people as possible through his time and talents.
“I’ve never done this for the money,” said Duncan. “My employees all know that. Money was just a byproduct of it. The company making millions a year? Just a byproduct. I take probably 75% of the money this company makes and I reinvest it. We work with the best of equipment. We have the best highly trained employees. This is the reason we’ve grown to the level we have.”
For more information on Niagara Industrial Mechanical Services, visit niagaraindustrialmechanical.com or contact 716-791-3390.