“I never thought about it.” That’s what Vaughn Nickell tells us when we asked him about leaving Elkhart. This is home. “There are lots of good people in Elkhart,” he says. “Giving people.” Vaughn is certainly one of them.
Along with his brother, Vaughn started American Millwork in 1970. He has sold the company and bought it back a couple of times. Most recently, Vaughn didn’t like how things were going, especially when the private equity group that had acquired the business threatened to move it away from Elkhart. Vaughn took over American Millwork again and 85 people are still working in Elkhart County because of what he did.
Vaughn is not going to beat his chest about keeping jobs here. He is not that kind of man. He saw something that needed to be done. He knew that no one else was likely to do anything about it. Buying the company again seemed like the right thing to do, so he did it.
Same thing with dredging Simonton Lake. Vaughn knew that lake was naturally shallow and erosion and sediment were getting bad. He banded with some other concerned people and they undertook what has proven to be a major project. He saw what should be done and helped make it happen. 45,000 cubic yards of sediment have been removed from the lake.
Vaughn can be tenacious. He will take on projects large and not quite as big and get results. He helped start a group to upgrade the athletic facilities at Elkhart Memorial. He is spent years as a trustee at Ashland University. He is been involved with several charities and is active in his church.
Someone who just met Vaughn recently told us: “He is almost like an Elkhart County secret weapon.” He doesn’t make a big splash. He is humble, but, when Vaughn is involved, things happen.
Vaughn says, “One of my primary reasons for investing in Elkhart is to make Elkhart County a better place to live and prosper – the kind of place where people want to live and raise a family.
Vaughn and his wife, Cindy have done just that. They raised their three children here and they all still reside in Elkhart County.