Featured Entrepreneur: Ken Goodrich
Originally published: 11.01.18 by Pete Grasso
Featured Entrepreneur: Ken Goodrich
Ken Goodrich got his start in this industry the same way as many HVACR contractors: holding a flashlight for his father as he worked on air conditioners.
“By the time I was old enough to drive, I was proficient as an air conditioning technician and ran service calls,” Goodrich recalls. “Through many years of being the official flashlight holder, I became a skilled technician, learned invaluable business lessons and, ultimately, how to be the best at what I do and make customers happy.”
Early on, however, acareer in HVACR was not what Goodrich wanted to do with his life … or so he thought.
“I grew up in Las Vegas and it can be miserably hot on those roofs. I decided that wasn’t the way I wanted to make a living, so I went to college and got a degree in finance,” he says. “When I interviewed for finance jobs, I’d get offers that were half of what I was making in HVACR.”
Goodrich simply couldn’t wrap his head around making half the pay, so like any good entrepreneur, he decided to start his own business and go with what he knew.
“About the time I decided to return to this industry, my dad fell ill and passed away,” he says. “I purchased the business from my mother; it was called Racee Air Conditioning. I went to work on building an enterprise rather than a family business.”
Company: Goettl Air Conditioning
Year Founded: 1939
Headquarters: Las Vegas
Work Performed: Residential Repair, Replacement and Installation
No. of Employees: 200
Vendor-Partners: Amana, Dynamic Air Cleaner, Aprilaire
Affiliations: Air Conditioning Contractors of America
Partnerships: Arizona’s Children Association, Sojourner Center, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Hope & A Future, Inc.
Over the next 10 years, Goodrich struggled with learning how to run a business and understanding how to implement business systems and processes, as well as creating management teams and leading people. Eventually, he built a fairly successful company, which attracted an HVACR industry consolidator in 1997.
He sold the company and worked for the consolidator for a couple of years.
“Being a part of a larger company exposed me to operating processes, acquisition strategies and new perspectives on how bigger business is done,” Goodrich says. “I was intrigued to see if I could take that knowledge and apply it to another company.”
In 2001, armed with his new-found perspective, Goodrich started putting some businesses together in Las Vegas and Phoenix, and grew sizeable in those markets. They had five locations and ended up selling them to the same buyer as last time, in early 2008.
“I became the division vice-president, then the president of the Western Division for several years, when the opportunity presented itself to purchase Goettl Air Conditioning,” Goodrich says. “It was something I could not pass up, as Goettl has been a part of my career since I started.”
Goettl was the brand of the first air conditioner Goodrich shined the flashlight on for his dad. Goettls were designed to operate in the high ambient temperatures of the Sonoran and Mohave Deserts. So, when he was growing up and learning the business, his dad installed Goettls.
Goettl Air Conditioning was started in 1939 by Gust and Adam Goettl, two brothers who moved to Phoenix from Austria. Their vision to establish a company that could make the intense desert heat a livable environment helped paved the way for a population boom in the emerging Southwest.
In 2013, Goodrich took control of Goettl and immediately installed new management and systems to manage the company. Soon, Goettl Air Conditioning went from hemorrhaging millions of dollars a year to being a profitable, industry pioneer yet again.
Then, Goodrich started expanding Goettl Air Conditioning throughout the Southwest while resurrecting the brand and ideals that shaped the company.
“We currently have locations in Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas and Corona, Calif.,” Goodrich says. “We’re aiming to significantly increase our footprint throughout California. Our next move is toward Sacramento, and then going further into Los Angeles.”
Goodrich has also recently expanded Goettl’s training outreach with a new 53,000-square-foot Las Vegas facility housing the region’s largest state-of-the-art training center: Goettl University.
“This facility and Goettl University will fulfill a life-long dream of mine where HVAC technicians throughout the U.S. will be trained the Goettl way,” Goodrich says. “Leadership skills and management skills will be part of our curriculum, in addition to training our technicians and installers.”