2009 Hall of Fame
James R. Bard earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Indiana Tech in 1959. After graduation, Bard joined the family business in Bryan, Ohio. Founded about 100 years ago in 1914, Bard Manufacturing is still a family owned company. James Bard worked during the summer months throughout high school and college, and after his graduation from Tech continued to learn the business from the ground up. He started on the shop floor and then moved to the engineering department. He was an engineer until 1970, when he became a company officer.
The business grew and prospered, and, in 1981, James Bard and his brother, Richard, obtained financing and bought the company. The business has continued to prosper and has added manufacturing facilities in Georgia and Mexico.
A good deal of Bard’s success can be attributed to hard work and persistence, but, like most entrepreneurs, he was always looking for new products, ideas, and innovations. When he started with the company, it was a regional supplier of heating products to the residential market. Their primary product was a patented oil furnace that dated back to the 1930s. Bard knew, however, if the company was to grow it needed to develop new products.
Using his Indiana Tech engineering education, Bard was instrumental in designing and manufacturing a new product line: air conditioning units that could be mounted on the outside wall of modular school buildings. The “wall-mount” was launched in 1962 and would eventually become the major product line of Bard Manufacturing. Over the past 40 years, the company has grown to be the largest U.S. manufacturer of wall-mounted HVAC products.
Bard’s personal integrity, ethics, and values also have become an integral part of the company’s culture. He has made it a point to emphasize strong family values and a positive work environment. Bard has said that the secret to his success is simple: find self-motivated and positive thinking people, empower them to be successful, and reward them when success is achieved.
Bard retired a few years ago, but continues as an advisor on the company’s board of directors. In 2001, he received the Northwest Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2004, the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute presented Bard with a lifetime achievement award.
His public service and philanthropy have been directed primarily to the town of Bryan, Ohio, where he grew up and where he and his wife, Joan, still reside. He has served as president of the Bryan Area Foundation and received their Good Citizen of the Year Award in 2008.
Jim and Joan Bard’s commitment to helping others through education has been a major part of their involvement at Indiana Tech throughout the years. They have been members of the President’s Club since 1998, and they established the James R. Bard scholarship in 2005 to help students with financial need.
In 2006, Indiana Tech awarded Bard an honorary doctorate in engineering. In 2009, the university dedicated the James and Joan Bard Life Sciences Laboratory.