The CB Interview: Ardee Toppe Steps Up to Lead the Goodman Team

Jan. 13, 2021
A Quietflex veteran, Toppe knows the Daikin/Goodman world well, and has a great appreciation for the work performed by HVACR contractors.

EDITOR'S NOTE: On March 7, 2022 Daikin announced it will unify its core Daikin, Goodman and Amana HVAC brands under a new top level corporate name and structure.  Ardee Toppe will manage all company sales of all brands.

This article was written following Mr. Toppe's appointment as senior vice president for Goodman and Quietflex.

Ardee Toppe ­­‑‑ Goodman/Daikin North America’s recently appointed senior vice president and president for the Goodman, Quietflex and PTAC business units ‑‑ shoulders his new responsibilities with an appreciation for the many contributions of HVAC contractors to the industry, and his own deeply ingrained work ethic.

Toppe (pronounced, “toe-pay”) was most recently senior vice president and president for the Quietflex and PTAC (packaged terminal air conditioner) business units. He has devoted 18 years to the Goodman/Daikin organization, and is eager to do all he can to expand the presence of those three product lines in the HVAC industry.

Toppe will have full responsibility for the Quietflex and PTAC Business Units, and the Quietflex®, Goodman® and Amana® brand product lines, to include parts, supplies and accessories. He will oversee both company-operated and independent distributor relationships for these brands.

Company/Industry Insider
Toppe is extremely familiar with the operations of the Daikin family of products. His career at Goodman began in 2003 as vice president, corporate controller and treasurer, but he was soon selected to lead the Quietflex business in 2004. Quietflex is a leading manufacturer and supplier of flexible ductwork for residential and commercial HVAC systems, as well as fiberglass mats for industrial applications.

In 2012, Toppe was named to lead the Amana brand PTAC business. He also managed Goodman’s Quality Assurance group and served as chairman of Goodman’s Safety Committee.

Toppe’s career in corporate management began in 1986, when he accepted a sales management position with Energizer Batteries. In 1995, he joined Allied Signal’s wheel and brakes division, which manufactured landing gear, wheels and brakes for Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and various commercial airlines. During his early days of management, he earned an MBA from Notre Dame University. Later, a recruiter came knocking, and he gladly moved from cold Chicago to warm Houston, to join what he knew to be a quality Goodman organization.

Toppe said his management responsibilities prior to joining Goodman, combined with his MBA studies, provided the ideal grounding for advanced corporate management.

“I was older, and the MBA studies helped with corporate strategy, understanding a company, and leadership,” he said.

Toppe also credits his father, Ron, who was a Marine Corps jet pilot, with instilling in him the value of hard work and persistence

“He was big on learning, not just sports,” Toppe shared. “He and his father built their own home, and then, when I was a kid, me and my father built our house in Orleans, Indiana, a town of about 2,000 people. We poured the footings, laid every block and brick for the house, everything. That helped teach me learn how to work hard but also about building products at a young age.”

Life Lessons Applied 
Toppe also cherishes work and life lessons learned while working on farms during his youth in Orleans ‑‑ working with cattle, putting up hay, plowing, and planting corn, “In other words, all the difficult farm work! That further engrained in me the appreciation for hard work, which is helpful for use in the corporate world. And then I worked different jobs during college. Those many different roles provided different experiences and opportunities to be around many other different people, and helped me communicate with others, no matter what role they were in. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up working hard, with nothing. I worked my entire career to get every job I’ve had,” Toppe offered.

Toppe said his career at Goodman has helped to expand his appreciation for HVAC careers, a job category he believes to be underappreciated in the US.

“I don’t even remember being told in school about careers in HVACR,” he reflects. “You had to go into accounting or go to work for IBM. I don’t think HVACR careers were promoted the way they should have been. Even today, my daughter is out of college now and my son is a high school senior, and without me I don’t think they would have been very familiar with it either.”

Having said that, Toppe added that he sees a continuing need to get word about HVACR careers in front of the younger generation.

“We need to do better as an industry, getting in front of kids for the future growth of HVACR business. I don’t think many people understand how many engineers are hired in this business, how many are in manufacturing, the contractors who are installing it and the technology they need to understand the products. There are so many roles in the industry that are very important, and very broad. The contractor alone has to learn how to sell, install and service products. It’s not like putting up hay every day. I don’t think we appreciate how many opportunities there are in this industry.

Daikin/Goodman is doing its part. Toppe said he’s seen more effort within the company to recruit people into HVACR, to show them how many career opportunities that are available.

“But we have a way to go to ensure we get all that we need to keep the industry growing,” he cautioned. “It’s a pretty cool way to make a living and it touches virtually 100 percent of the people in the United States.”

Within the HVACR workforce itself, Toppe said manufacturers must continue to help make the work performed by installing and servicing contractors easier and provide continuous training.

“At Quietflex I spent a lot of time in attics, watching contractors install flex, trying to think of what we could do better. But the contractor today must also have great products to install, and they must receive training in order to properly install those products,” Toppe insisted. “They also need support provided by marketing programs and help with finding customers. You can’t just hang up a sign and become successful. We need to support them, and distributors need to support them, in how to grow.

“Also, the easier we can make if for them to order products through e-commerce and manage their back offices is important. Paying bills or writing purchase orders isn’t helping them make money. They need to be in front of customers.”

Transitions and Opportunities 
And with another refrigerant transition expected to take effect in the near future with the phasedown of R-410A in new systems, Toppe said it provide an opportunity to design new technologies and deliver more efficient heating and cooling systems. R-32 refrigerant is one of the leading replacements Daikin expects to develop new technologies around.

“We have to look at the new refrigerant and design the best units to utilize it. It’s the one component in the HVACR industry that is continually evolving and adapting to new regulatory requirements,” Toppe said.

Ardee Toppe is completely at ease where’s he’s at. He knows the Goodman organization well, having worked with many from that team during his Quietflex days.

“Having been here for 18 years, I’ve worked with the majority of the people in Goodman distribution, and my Quietflex team would often work with Goodman when calling on customers. There hasn’t been a wall between the two. We’ve always worked together. I see what they do at Goodman as similar to my experience at Quietflex," Toppe said. “I’ve always enjoyed working here. The people in our organization are outstanding, and there’s never a boring day. There’s always a new challenge.”

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About the Author

Terry McIver | Content Director - CB

A career publishing professional, Terence 'Terry' McIver has served three diverse industry publications in varying degrees of responsibility since 1987, and worked in marketing communications for a major U.S. corporation.He joined the staff of Contracting Business magazine in April 2005.

As director of content for Contracting Business, he produces daily content and feature articles for CB's 38,000 print subscribers and many more Internet visitors. He has written hundreds, if not two or three, pieces of news, features and contractor profile articles for CB's audience of quality HVACR contractors. He can also be found covering HVACR industry events or visiting with manufacturers and contractors. He also has significant experience in trade show planning.