Sunday, October 24, 2021

Fifty Years and Counting

Photo by Don Manley | Don and Donna Condee enjoying Condee Cooling and Electric’s 50th anniversary party.

A 50th anniversary is always a major event, be it a marriage, a friendship or the lifetime of a business.

That milestone was reached this year by Condee Cooling and Electric, which has been in operation on the island since 1969, making it one of the rare Marco Island enterprises to achieve that landmark. The family owned business and its employees celebrated that landmark recently in Old Marco with a festive company party at Bistro Soleil.

With his wife Donna by his side, Don Condee, the family owned corporation’s president, took a moment to reflect on the company reaching its golden anniversary.

“I’m tired,” he quipped initially before adding that reaching that 50-year mark has occurred as an outgrowth of keeping one’s nose to the grindstone while living in the moment.

“Day after day you work and you work and pretty soon, it’s there,” he explained.

It was his father, the late Don Condee, Sr., who operated Condee Inc. back in the family’s home state of Illinois. A licensed pilot, Don Sr. discovered Marco in the 1960’s while flying to and from Florida to Illinois with a friend, Ed Husted, who worked for the Deltona, the island’s primary developer. In 1965, Don Condee, Sr. purchased property on Marco as well as a condominium. At that time, he operated a business in Illinois which provided propane gas, electrical, refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning services.

Seeing a need for similar services on Marco, he asked a longtime employee George Hess if he’d like to move to a warmer a climate, which Hess agreed to do. Hess traveled to the island in a company truck to set up shop in 1969 and Don Sr. ran the company from Illinois until 1979, when he asked his son, Don II, to move to Marco, which he did with his wife and infant son Erik.

Erik Condee is now the company’s vice-president.

The company’s first officer was located adjacent to a space off Bald Eagle Drive that was then a 7-eleven and today is occupied by Kretch’s Restaurant. In 1971, operations shifted to a building on Marco Lake Drive and then, in 1979, growth spurred a move to a larger warehouse and office space on Front Street. In 2011, Condee Cooling and Electric moved to its current location at 25 Front Street.

Don Condee II, cited several key reasons why the company is still going strong.

“It’s been remarkable, he said, “but we’re in a good area for it; that’s part of the issue, and we have good help.” He said most of the company’s employees have been there long-term, some for upwards of 40 years. “With that, it’s kept the customers happy and it just works,” he added.

Regarding the future, Don Condee II is looking forward to making a slow transition to retirement.

“I’ll probably work and take some trips and just try and phase out of it as my son takes over,” he added. “My son’s next in line. He’s been pretty much in the driver’s seat.”

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