One evening, when Ken Goodrich was just 10 years old, his father told him to put on a jacket. His dad needed help. That night would be the start of a life-long career in air conditioners and heaters for Goodrich.
Goodrich was instructed to hold a flashlight while his father worked on a heater, and by the time Goodrich was 16, he had his driver’s license and was making service calls on air conditioners for the family business.
“We do things the right way, not the easy way,” was the mantra Goodrich had been taught by his father, and it was something that formed his foundation as he went on to own many air conditioning businesses, one of which is Goettl Air Conditioning.
Goodrich has a close relationship with Goettl Air Conditioning as he always worked on them since his early years. In fact, it was a Goettl that Goodrich’s dad worked on all those years ago while he shined the flashlight for assistance.
But Goettl Air Conditioning was also the only company that would give a 25-year-old Goodrich credit to keep the family business running after his father passed away.
Goettl was known for manufacturing quality air conditioners, and the company held many patents for its designs throughout the years. The company has a legacy going back to 1939 and played a role in popularizing air conditioners. But, over time, its reputation faltered as the quality of its service declined.
Goodrich started looking into buying Goettl as the company was in decline.
Goettl had no quality control over its jobs at the time, and very dissatisfied customers, Goodrich says. Goettl, prior to Goodrich’s ownership, had many Better Business Bureau complaints and a dwindling call count too. Things were a mess.
Goodrich, who had bought and built up several air conditioning businesses in the past, decided to purchase the company in 2013 and turn it around.
By 2014, Goettl Air Conditioning had 68 employees and $14.4 million in revenue. Today, Goodrich continues to guide and oversee the brand which has grown more than 400 percent since he took over. Goettl has opened recently in two additional markets, with plans to open in two more in 2019. The company was also recognized as the 2018 Mechanical Trade Contractor of the Year by the Mechanical Trade Contractors of Arizona (MTCAZ).
With all of the businesses he’s bought and sold over the years, Goodrich says he looks at each of them like a broken air conditioner.
“I put my diagnostic tools on the business, and I look at what the gauges and meters and thermometers tell me, and I make my decisions on how to go about getting (the business) repaired and working again,” Goodrich says.
To make good on the legacy reputation of Goettl, Goodrich had the company re-install 364 systems across Phoenix. That was a $1 million re-do, Goodrich says.
“Because (past jobs) were such poor quality, I couldn’t in good conscience own a company where some of these installations were done,” Goodrich says. “It was by far the worst installations I had ever seen.”
Goodrich set to fixing that problem for future installations by installing a robust approval process for every job the company does. In the early days of his ownership, Goodrich would personally approve a job by having technicians take photos and send them along to him. If the job wasn’t up to Goodrich’s quality requirements, he’d send the technicians back to do the job again.
The process used to involve seven photos, but now the approval process for a job involves 27 photos and Goettl has an entire team of quality control inspectors making sure the job was done right. At his leisure, Goodrich still checks the photos of jobs, though.
Goodrich set out to create a proud culture of quality at Goettl, boosting morale and having technicians be proud of the work they were doing at the company.
After Goodrich installed processes that would help ensure quality service from Goettl, he had to tell the community. From its storied history in Phoenix, many already know Goettl, but after previous ownership the name wasn’t exactly associated with quality.
So, Goodrich set out to market the company, telling potential customers about the Goettl way and who Goodrich is and that he means business when it comes to providing quality service.
You’ve probably heard the ads on the radio about technicians that are certified by Goodrich’s dog, Saddie, and how the company revolves around quality. The ads are all over the radio and Goodrich credits them for helping lift the business back up to its former glory.
Many small business owners get into the day-to-day act of just carrying on with the business, Goodrich says about how Goettl got to its dwindling place before he purchased the company. He says owners shouldn’t get into the act of running the business over and over again. Instead, there should be a system where employees are constantly learning and training.
A business should be a school for employees, Goodrich says. And he turned Goettl into a school, even going as far as creating Goettl University in Las Vegas, where Goodrich resides. Goettl University will serve as a place to train HVAC technicians “the Goettl way.”
Since Goodrich purchased Goettl, he’s expanded it to three other markets outside of Phoenix, while boosting the employee count to 364 and revenue in excess of $75 million in 2018.
“I think this is my opus,” Goodrich says about purchasing and turning Goettl around. “(Goettl) is the culmination of all these years and experiences I’ve had and putting all of the puzzle pieces together, and that’s what created a prolific business.”