Bolls Heating & Cooling History: MORE THAN 1/2 CENTURY OF SERVICE
In the era that followed the end of World War II, the United States experienced a phenomenal post-war economic and social “boom”. Indianapolis was similarly a burgeoning market that Francis Xavier Bolls recognized as an ideal location for him to start a new heating company.
“Fran” Bolls grew up in the furnace industry with his father’s business in Springfield, Illinois, but longed for his own in a bigger market. He boldly started out on his own from scratch and elected to do it in Indianapolis in 1948.
People who knew Fran described him as “bombastic”, “loud”, “with good business savvy”, “good to employees”, and “well connected politically and socially”. These traits coupled with the concept of hiring and surrounding himself with highly talented individuals rapidly advanced “Bolls Furnace Company” as a premier player in the Indianapolis market.
Fran was very loyal to his primary supplier The Williamson Company, a high-end, premium manufacturer of heating and air conditioning equipment and ductwork. This plus Bolls’ reputation for flawless, hand-crafted custom sheet metal work, quickly positioned Bolls Furnace as Indy’s high-end heating contractor. The talents of Bill Boyd (Sales Management) and Bernard Johnson (Install Layout and Management) were instrumental in helping Fran achieve his rapid growth and reputation.
The business went through phases starting with coal furnaces in the late 1940’s, coal to oil furnace conversions in the 1950’s, and oil to gas conversions in the 1960’s. Fran’s focus was on the new house market until the late 1970’s when he decided to focus on the replacement market, as we still do today. Fran also had a Windows and Doors Division in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He also had an Insulation Division in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Bolls location has always been 3648 West 16th Street in Indianapolis, where Fran originally leased an office. Eventually, Fran purchased the entire building and also bought out the Armour-Grimes Company on Indianapolis and used that location as a satellite office, but later consolidated it down to the 16th Street location.
An interesting side item to note was “Fran’s School”. There were no less than ten heating companies started by former Bolls employees, half of which are viable today.
Fran developed Lou Gehrigs disease in 1982, shortly after his wife died of cancer. Prior to his death in 1983, he worked out a buy-out agreement with his sole supplier The Williamson Company. Bolls was operating as a retail division of The Williamson Company until bought out again in 1989 by a partnership of employees, Sergei Traycoff and Dick Cooley with Tom Mutz, owner of Unique Indoor Comfort.
Tom Mutz’s contracting organization, Unique Indoor Comfort, ushered in a new era for Bolls in a progressive, forward-thinking way of running and advancing the business while retaining Bolls’ hallmark quality image. Tom created Unique Indoor Comfort in the mid 1960’s after his success in running the retail portion of the Peerless Furnace Company in Indianapolis. Unique very quickly became a nationally known and respected entity in the HVAC industry, embracing Tom’s philosophy on managing heating and air conditioning business.
Tom Mutz partnered with Bolls employees Sergei Traycoff and Dick Cooley to bring Bolls into the Unique organization in February 1989. After Tom’s untimely and unfortunate death in 1992, Bolls continued to pursue his basic business premises of doing the job right the first time, telling the truth, asking for the business, and keeping accounting and paperwork simple. Frank Mutz II, Tom’s son, succeeded him as the head of Unique in 1992 as well as the CEO of Moncrief Heating and Air Conditioning of Atlanta, GA (Unique’s largest entity). Frank brings a progressive perspective and technical expertise to our business as well as the other Unique affiliates.
Sergei Traycoff started his career with Bolls in 1986. He is currently the President and largest individual stockholder. Sergei grew up in Indianapolis and is a graduate of Southport High School. He attended Indiana University and earned a Marketing degree in 1977. Sergei is responsible for company sales and management. He is best known for his enthusiasm and conviction that Bolls can and will out-serve and out-perform its competitors. He holds the Light Commercial and Residential HVAC License.