The Next Generation of Zionsville
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Submitted and DeHart Photography
As part of the special section in this issue, we have reviewed a few stories and highlights about the town’s past and present. We sat down with a couple of longtime and lifetime members of the community to take a look at the next generations of families and family businesses that are part of the town’s tapestry. We asked them why they have chosen to remain in Zionsville (as opposed to the plethora of options around central Indiana and the country) and raise the next generation of their families in the town that raised them.
Fanimation began out of a garage in Pasadena, California, in 1984 by Tom Frampton. There he designed his first fan: The Punkah®. Today, Fanimation is an international brand available in more than 1,500 showrooms in 23 countries. Some years ago, Tom, an avid antique fan collector, joined the Antique Fan Collectors Association (AFCA).
The AFCA membership has operated a museum since 1997, displaying fans on loan by the membership; this museum was hosted by Vornado Fan Co. in Wichita, Kansas. The need to relocate the museum became apparent, and Fanimation made the offer to house it at its facility here in Zionsville. The museum officially opened in Zionsville on July 23, 2009. The museum houses some 450 antique fans, some dating to the early 1880s. Tom’s own unique collection of fans are now part of the museum collection as are hundreds of antique advertising-style hand fans and other memorabilia.
As a family business, Fanimation is ingrained with a desire for innovation. Just as Tom redefined fans as a design element, his son Nathan, who now leads Fanimation, is leveraging technology and sustainability to transform fans once again.
“My mom’s family is from northern Indiana, and my parents went to Purdue,” Tom said. “We used to visit here as kids. It was a visit here in 1992 that spawned the idea that [Indiana] is where we wanted to come to. It took two years to make that happen. It was only a two-person company back then, doing strictly commercial work back then – custom fans for hotels, restaurants, theme parks, movie sets and things like that, though our business was starting to transition to residential work just as we were moving to Indiana.”
Fanimation relocated from California to Indiana in 1994 and moved its headquarters to Lebanon, Indiana, in 1997. The Framptons opened Fanimation’s new corporate headquarters in Zionsville in 2003 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014.
Nathan, president and CEO of Fanimation, began working for Fanimation in 2001 after graduating from IUPUI’s Kelley School of Business. Nathan, who is involved with the town and county’s economic development, is also a dedicated volunteer. He spoke on some of the reasons why he has decided to help his family’s company grow and raise his own family in Zionsville.
“Over the last several years, the town leadership has been able to keep that small town feel that is Zionsville and yet diversify the tax base,” Nathan observed. “Creekside Park and 106th Street are examples of the town’s ability to grow commerce without harming the ‘feel’ of Zionsville. As a family business, we’ve all done a pretty good job of utilizing our skills and maintain our passion. This is not just a job, and [my father, two uncles and I] work surprisingly well together.”
Nathan enjoys frequenting the local businesses, such as Cobblestone and others along Main Street, and affirmed that there is indeed a nightlife on Main Street. “What I don’t want to see the town become is another Carmel or Fishers,” he emphasized. “As a town, we want to stay unique and family-oriented and continue to diversify the economic tax base in a smart way.”
The Applegate/Traylor Family
One of Zionsville’s multi-generational families is the Applegate family. We sat down with Lindsay Applegate Traylor and her husband, Zionsville Town Councilman Bryan Traylor, to talk about what Lindsay remembers about growing up in the town and why they chose to raise their family here.
“Growing up, it was smaller then, not in terms of the size of the town necessarily, but the community felt smaller,” Lindsay said. “I remember that at the Shell station, our family had a charge account there. I’d go there to fill up on gas, and the transaction was all on paper. I didn’t have to give them a card or I.D. because they knew whose kid I was, and they put it on my dad’s charge account. People knew each other pretty well back then.”
She continued, “We enjoyed all of the activities that people attend and love today. The Fall Festival and the Fourth of July at Lions Park are events that we went to as young people. My mother and her friends who also went to school here looked out for each others’ kids. My parents raised our family here, and we are now raising our family here. Two of my dad’s three siblings still live here in the town that they went to school and were raised in. The town has grown a lot, but it still has that sense of community. Why would you want to live anywhere else?”
Bryan and Lindsay met in college. When they began discussing getting married and having a family, the two eventually decided to move to Zionsville. Bryan, who would often refer to Zionsville as “the bubble,” found himself becoming passionately involved with the town that has raised his wife and was now raising his children.
“I grew up in a small town in eastern Kentucky and am not wired for a big city or even a medium city,” Bryan said. “I am wired for a small town. I love the convenience of being able to hop on I-65 and get to Indianapolis or Merrillville, where I go for work a lot, but also living in a town that offers so many lifestyle options and shares like-minded values. Since running and being elected to the town council, people often ask me what I want to change about the town. I didn’t run to change Zionsville. I ran because growth is inevitable, and I want to be able to help guide that growth in a responsible manner and maintain the culture of Zionsville.”