Some people start a business and stay in that field for years to come.
Bob Mims took a different path.
“When Bob started his business, it was roofing, sheet metal, and gutters because he had a sheet metal background. That morphed into doing ductwork, which turned into heating — especially with new homes,” said general manager Vincent Laurino about legendary businessman Jean “Bob” Mims. “Once he saw he could do the sheet metal, he figured he could put the furnace in, too. And the same thing when air conditioning came around.
“As the technology changed, he dove deep into it and changed with it,” said Laurino.
Mims was the founder of Bob Mims Roofing & Sheet Metal and later Bob Mims Heating & Air Conditioning. The business was first located on Bismark Avenue in New Brighton before headed to Brook Street in Tompkinsville in 1960 and currently resides at 6326 Amboy Rd. in Pleasant Plains.
Evolving with the times is one of the contributing factors why Bob Mims is celebrating 50 years with the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. But that’s not the only reason the company has maintained a strong Staten Island presence since being established in 1955.
“I think it’s a matter of good, honest customer service. He was always a guy who focused on the customers’ needs. He was honest to a fault,” said Laurino. “If there was any issue, he always erred on the side of the customer. He gained a really loyal customer base from that.
“Even after he retired, the company stayed that way and continued to do that today,” he said.
Mims, who passed away two years ago at the age of 95, was an active member of the Staten Island business community and was the recipient of the Louis R. Miller Business Leadership Award in 1995. He served on the board at the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce and was the Building Awards Chairman in 1997.
Since interacting with the community was something Mims felt was important, he was fortunate to have Allen Hauber, who served as general manager for over 20 years and acted as the company’s community outreach person. He served as judge for the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce’s annual Building Awards, president of the Home Improvement Contractors of Staten Island, and president of the New York-New Jersey chapter of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America.
“He was very personable. One thing about Allan is that when you spoke to him, he made you feel like you were the most important person that day. That’s why he was so good in the community,” said Laurino about his co-worker who worked at Bob Mims for 40 years before passing away in 2014. “He loved facilitating relationships and working in the community. He enjoyed that interaction. It gave him a pulse of the company and how they were doing with customer relations.”
While the company featured two high-profile members in the community, that wasn’t Mims’ original goal when he joined the Chamber 50 years ago.
“Bob originally joined because he saw the value in what the Chamber was doing for Staten Island businesses. He was a small-business person who needed some assistance because he was more of a technical, sheet metal guy running a business,” said Laurino. “He saw the Chamber as an opportunity to learn from more business people on the Island and have a resource to go to for issues he was having in his business and questions. He saw the Chamber as that resource.”