There are times we feel like the world has dealt us a blow, and then — there are times like this.
Times when you can’t really believe your good fortune, like the time Larry and Cindy Sloan are experiencing right now.
“I didn’t want to keep working on his (Larry’s theater’s) rooftop,” said Andy Kelly, who works for Nevada ACE Hardware and has been trying to help the Sloans keep at least one very outdated air conditioning unit working at The Talent Factory in recent summers.
“For the past three or four seasons, we’ve tried to make one of his three air units work,” Kelly said. This year, the last working air unit of those three gave out.
“This summer, we had air for a short time only,” Larry said, “and it never kept the place cool, but it kept it from being incredibly hot.”
And it’s been miserably hot for the shows during recent weeks. And they’ve been very good shows that are often packing people in — sweaty arm to sweaty arm.
“(The air units for the theater) reached the end of their life 20 years ago,” Kelly said. He’d even tried taking one totally apart a few years ago to see if it would work better.
Part of the problem for the Larry in fixing the air conditioning is that it’s a very expensive fix for a business that really hasn’t been producing a profit.
Larry had seen the numbers to put air in. “We were looking at least $30,000,” he said. And he already funded one big-ticket item, a new furnace. back when he bought the theater six years ago. He did, however, have it put in with the right spacing and needs for air to eventually be added. There simply hasn’t been enough cash to do it.
“In the first five years (of the six they’ve owned it),” Larry said, “we’ve lost money every year out of pocket.”
How can anyone do that, you might ask?
“We live modestly,” Larry said. “Our house is paid for, and the theater is paid for.”
But there’s only so much the Sloans could do, and air conditioning still wasn’t on the list of things they could swing.
So, back to Kelly. He asked Chris Boor, who works for Wayne Dennis Supply in Ames, if they had any good deals on air conditioners.
“We sell wholesale to contractors,” Boor said, “and Andy has a special place in our heart.”
When Kelly first made the comment to Boor, it was kind of as a joke. But, Boor looked into what they might be able to do, and he found a good deal. From there, it was a matter of putting together the right people to get the job done.
Those people came in the form of Josh Culbertson, who not only is an electrician, but because Cindy cares for his children in her at-home day care, he went the extra distance getting NAI Electric Contractors to donate all the electrical materials he needed to get things ready to go.
Next in line were Mike Sauer, whose son Thomas sings at the theater, and his friend, Jim Sallee, who are HVAC techs.
“I knew of the situation,” Sauer said, “and I knew it’s just the right thing to do.” He talked to Sallee, who was also glad to volunteer on the labor end of things.
Kelly, Boor, Sauer and Sallee showed up to work Sunday, July 15. They put in a full day getting everything ready to go. All that was left was for someone to come in and put on the finishing touches, make the connections and start the air rolling. That someone they found in Dan Casey, who owns his own heating and cooling business in Nevada. Casey showed up last Friday, July 20, to get things finished and by late afternoon, the air was on.
“Dan had the original furnace installation, so he knew about the system already,” Kelly said.
Casey was even able to donate all the supplies he needed to get the new air conditioning “commissioned,” the word the team of guys used to make it sound official.
Casey said he was glad to help out. He and the others all commented that helping the Sloans was just something friends and neighbors do to help a couple who has tried to bring the town’s theater back to life and fill it with good entertainment.
That’s why they all got involved, really. They wanted to do something great for a member of their community. And in the process, even though they all come from somewhat competing businesses, they bonded as they worked together toward a common good. Watching those friendships grow was rewarding for the Sloans as they sat back in total amazement about what this group of guys was willing to do for them.
“For Cindy and I, these guys forming this relationship together to help us is a really special thing,” Larry said. And he was still somewhat at a loss for words in describing how much it means to know that people have come together to make something you really needed cost you less than you ever imagined was possible. “Nobody likes to beg for help, and these guys didn’t make us beg. They offered.
“These guys came to us, and made this affordable for us… We couldn’t have done it without them,” Larry said.
Along with Larry and Cindy feeling immensely grateful to this team of Nevada guys, they are also thankful that, for the most part, people who have attended shows this summer and the performers have been understanding of their overly hot conditions. Now to have air conditioning for future shows, Larry said, “it’s like the cherry on top of the cake.”
The Sloans have been able to do what they do in Nevada by surrounding themselves with people willing to help. Their unpaid staff at The Talent Factory is made up of friends. Now they have another group of friends, who offered their help to put in air conditioning without asking for anything in return.
“For all the bad rap Nevada gets from some people — at some times, there’s really no denying that it’s a great little community,” Sloan said.