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Michael Caito, foreground, founder of MAP Consulting, teamed with Ken Goodrich to provide sound business advice to ACCA 2024 conference attendees.

The Value of ACCA

April 3, 2024
Ken Goodrich's first ACCA conference helped rescue the Goettl business. He urges all HVAC contractors to join ACCA. Just the networking alone is extraordinary.

I was a 10-year-old boy holding the flashlight for my dad while he worked on an air conditioner for a customer. His name was Duncan Goodrich. He didn't talk much.

There's a certain kind of magic that happens when a son holds a flashlight for his father. I held it steady and quiet and dad talked to me while he worked. He said, "When a person needs help, you go right away, not when it's convenient for you. Always do the right thing. Always do what's right."

He said, "The Goettl Iron Horse is a magnificent machine. Nothing else even comes close."

That was the first night I held a flashlight for my dad, but it wouldn't be the last. At dad's funeral. I realized that every time he handed me that flashlight, he was passing the torch. My dad believed in Goettl air conditioners. So I bought the company.

"GOETTL: G-O-E-T-T-L. It'll keep you cool, but it's hard to spell."

Like many of you here, I started at a very young age, holding the flashlight for my dad. I  learned the trade, and I worked my way up to the place where I bought the family business.

At the time, Goettl Air Conditioning was a large manufacturer of air conditioners in the Southwest, and they built packaged air conditioners that were designed with 115 degree ambient so it could handle the tough weather out that direction. My dad was a Gettel dealer.

I don't think I'm really much different than anybody else here, in how we started and how we evolved in the business and tried to learn things that we didn't know. We didn't come with a business background. Usually we came with a trades background, and so back in the day when I was getting going, I was a young guy, probably before I was 30, I was struggling in my business. I had about a thousand bucks left in my bank account. The bill collectors were calling, the vendors were calling looking for money and I couldn't find any help. I was struggling, and I was also looking through a trade magazine and I saw an ad for the Air Conditioning Contractors of America convention in San Antonio. This was about 1988. 

I don't think I'm really much different than anybody else here, in how we started and how we evolved in the business and tried to learn things that we didn't know. - Ken Goodrich

So I decided this has got to be my last hurrah. Maybe I can find something at this ACCA thing and that will help me. So I took my last thousand bucks, got a plane ticket, booked the hotel, flew out that day and came to the ACCA convention. Back in those days, the conventions were much larger because there wasn't that much competition in the training space, and it was a huge group and I was kind of intimidated and lost. And I found my way into situations like this or the trainings or the big groups, the big presentations, and I was able to sit next to some older guys, more experienced guys and start talking to them, and they reached out their hand and they helped me.

I spent a couple of days with some guys I met and they did pointed me in the right direction. I came back with a great set of notes, came back from insurance that I learned that the convention and I left with a new vigor for the business, a new community that I could work with to help me grow and ready to go and take over the world.

So that was my first experience with ACCA, and I've been a member ever since. And I encourage all of you to really understand what you're involved with here with ACCA, which is a "best practice" group, where you're going to go for the education that you don't have to run a business, and grow these companies, coming from the trades.

The best part about ACCA is the community that's built here. I learned most of the things I learned in these kinds of settings, when you're with other contractors. You come together and you can really help build your business and get good ideas and come back and implement them.

ACCA means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to the whole industry. But, we only get out of it what we put in. So let's all just make sure, that as you're talking to other operators around the country, ask them, "What best practice group are you in?" It's the first question I always ask. And if they say they're not in one, then make the pitch, to help ACAA grow and succeed.

Thank you, ACCA, for saving me in 1988 in San Antonio. 

Ken Goodrich is CEO of Goettl Air Conditioning, established in 1939 in Las Vegas, NV. This column is taken from Ken Goodrich's address at the ACCA 2024 Conference, March 11-14 in Orlando, FL. The presentation included Ken's discussion of best business practices, with Michael Caito, owner and CEO of MAP Consulting. Watch for a review of that presentation in an upcoming issue.