Nancy Dornan, A Fixture at Maschino's Since 1952

Dec 25, 2014

Nancy Dornan is President of Maschino's
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-Fm

Merry Christmas Everyone! I’m Mike Smith for the KSMU Sense of Community Series.  Today, as we continue this A Day in the Life theme of our series, a profile of Nancy Dornan, President of Maschino’s. 

“My grandfather in 1903 had the first Maschino Hardware, Schaffer Maschino Hardware, on Commercial Street.  Later it was moved to Campbell just a little south of Walnut.  The hardware store was where my father grew up.  My grandfather died when my father was 19.”

And by 1952 when Nancy’s dad was 47, the family had gathered enough resources together to open Maschino’s Hardware at its present location on the west side of Campbell, one block north of Sunshine.

“At that time, Campbell was a dirt road south of Sunshine.  It’s interesting because the first tag line for Maschino’s was Just a Step From Your Car.  This was the second shopping center in Springfield.  Parking was an issue in downtown Springfield and that’s where the tag line came from in.  As a kid I got paid a nickel an hour to count clothespins when we did inventory, so I was involved from the get go.  Checking out at the end of the day, working in the warehouse shelving things, bringing things out of boxes to the shelves, I did just about everything that needed to be done.  As a family we checked merchandise in together.  Early on there was my mom, my dad, myself, and a part time girl who helped with things.  That’s how the business began.”

Nancy Dornan notes how Maschino’s has evolved over the years.  “A variety of different things. Going from the hardware business, fireplace equipment became part of the hardware. And because fireplace equipment was seasonal we branched into patio furniture.  Over the years we had a frame shop, we sold fishing licenses, we had a post office a coffee shop, a candy area.  At one time we had  a complete bridal registry with 157 brides registered at one time, it was huge.  We had china, crystal, silver, household electronics, you name it.  Again I think the underlying thing in why we’ve been in business for 62 years is  we’re part of the community, we have a knowledgeable staff, and we always try to get the customer’s needs met in a friendly way.  I think that’s what has kept us in good stead over the years.”

Nancy,if there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day for you at Maschino’s?  “Laughter..I wish I could say what is typical.  I do a lot of work in the office on the computer with social media things.  There really isn’t a typical day.  I’m on the floor a little bit, not like I used to be, but we’ve got a great staff who knows a lot more about product than I do now.”

Greg Nutting is the General Manager at Maschino’s, and has worked with Nancy Dornan for 35 years.  “She’s more of a visionary person.  To be able to see something, she puts together the outline of how she perceives that to be put in place and respects your ability to make that happen.  I’ve watched her do so many things to help out others, not just Maschino’s but the community and Springfield to be a better place.”

Examples of area organizations and causes supported by Nancy Dornan over the years are what a lab tech might call TNTC, Too Numerous to Count, but include the SGF Symphony and other Arts groups;  Ozarks Public Broadcasting; Dickerson Park Zoo; and funding for and restoration of the Historic Gillioz Theater.

Speaking of restoration, Nancy Dornan is also a managing partner with Historic Walnut Street Development. “Because of my interest in historic preservation, I ended up doing about 15 houses on east Walnut between National and Hammons Parkway, all the way from complete rehab to putting a handicap ramp and painting it.  So I was involved in restoration of those houses which was residential to commercial use.  Then about 15 years ago my husband Tom Dornan and I began Historic Walnut Street Development Corp. in which we take century old houses primarily in the west central area on west Walnut, and restore them.  Many of them have good bones but have been abused, so we take them back to their original woodwork and flooring, the basic footprint of the house, and then put in all new heating and air conditioning , etc., etc.  We wind up with a nicely insulated brand new old house”.

Nationally Known Children's Author David Harrison is a Longtime Friend of Nancy Dornan
Credit Mike Smith / KSMU-FM

  Earlier this month, the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame was supported by Nancy Dornan when Maschino’s hosted a book sales signing event with 11 area authors.  A percentage of sales from the event totaled nearly $800.00 and went to the Writers Hall of Fame Scholarship Program.  Local businessman and nationally known children’s author was there.  Harrison is a longtime friend of Nancy Dornan.  “Here’s a heads up business woman with a good mind, a good grasp of what it takes to run a successful business, good at all aspects of it, and maybe a strength in public relations, community relations. Early on she and I began to bump into each other.  I have a tendency to become involved in the community too, and as a result more and more, Nancy’s name would pop up here and there, and I became aware of all the good things she did and still does for the Springfield area.  There’s so many things Nancy has involved herself in and taken a leadership role, so we have a mutual admiration society of long, long standing.”   

Nancy Dornan:  “If I could wave a magic wand over capitalism, I would like to have multiple bottom lines.  I’d like to have a fiscal bottom line, a social bottom line and an environmental bottom line, and somehow factor all those in.  If you only think of the fiscal end, you miss out on so much as a business and as a community.  By balancing these three things, you get a much more complete community and a much more complete business.”