As the promise of 2022 looms on the horizon, most people are anxious to close the books on what is likely the most unsettling year — from the pandemic to politics to supply chain shortages — we will ever experience. Strong leadership has never been more essential than it is today. To share their best leadership practices, Az Business magazine sat down with Arizona business leaders to watch in 2022, including Ken Goodrich, CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning.

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Highlights of Ken Goodrich interview

INTRODUCTION TO INDUSTRY: “When I was 10 years old, my dad came to me one evening and said, ‘I need some help. I’m going to go work on our neighbor’s air conditioner.’ So that night, I became enlisted as the official flashlight holder for my dad’s part-time business repairing air conditioners. And the first air conditioner I ever lit up with my flashlight was a Goettl. As my dad evolved in the industry and made it his full-time job, he started as a Goettl dealer. So my whole career — from the very first moment I ever saw an air conditioner and all the way through — has been involved with Goettl.”

WORKING IN THE INDUSTRY: “The summers are crazy. The first 100-degree day is a madhouse. Our phones never stop ringing. And at this point, we have a pretty good routine and we have great long-term, loyal employees that do a great job. So at this point, my biggest concern is making sure they’re safe and OK — with proper hydration and getting the right time off because they’re working in severe weather.”

WORKFORCE NEEDS: “I started in this business in 1986, and it was hard to find skilled labor then. So it’s always been hard. It’s getting much harder every single year because the trades are not as alluring for younger people as the tech world or other opportunities. But our answer to that is we’ve started a school. We started Goettl Academy and so far this year we’ve trained 184 graduates, both air conditioning tradesmen and plumbing tradesmen. So our answer to the labor shortage is to build our own Goettleized staff.”

SOURCE OF PRIDE: “What gives me the most pride is the legacy and all of the people I run across in Phoenix who have known a Goettl employee, are a Goettl employee or worked for Goettl at one time. Goettl was a huge influence in the growth of Phoenix. The History Channel has a episode where they give Goettl Air Conditioning the credit for being the key catalyst for the growth of Phoenix. So I’m really proud of being part of that legacy.”

GOALS FOR 2022: “I’ve been in the air conditioning business since I was 10 years old and I’m going to try to lead the industry through innovation, improving process and improving the customer experience with a goal of providing a better opportunity and living for my industry fellows.”