Adolph Bourdin was 35 when he was laid off from his job with a Pass Christian general construction company. Undaunted, he used his legendary fix-it skills in self-employment and after several tries at different business aspects settled on heating installation and repair.|
At his side was his wife, Lelia Courtenay.
When home and business air conditioning entered the picture in the 1940s the Bourdins switched to a specialty of heating and air. Second- and third-generation Bourdins continue the practice.
Today the company, Adolph Bourdin Air Conditioning & Heating, remains a family business. Adolph died in 1975, knowing his tradesmen skills had worn off on son Robert, and then onto the next generation.
Family became their secret weapon of success, even after Hurricane Camille wiped out their physical business at the corner of Scenic Drive and Market Street, as well as much of their loyal customer base.
Robert remembers his father saying, "Never mind. We will just pick up the pieces and start all over again."
That's what the current Bourdins have to say to themselves after Katrina.
"Luckily, before the storm we already had a shop and warehouse on Menge Avenue, about a mile north of the interstate, and we can work out of there," said Adolph's granddaughter, Denise Wise.
The Bourdins had turned the building at the corner of Market and Scenic into their offices and the rest that had been showrooms and storage were turned into rentals for other businesses, including Corner Market, a nail salon and mortgage company. All was lost.
"We had an old round post on the step up to the market, and that was the one thing my father really wanted to find for when we rebuild," she said. "He found it four weeks ago, just lying by itself in an empty lot."
- KAT BERGERON