HOUSTON, TX — With manufacturers merging, acquiring, and partnering practically every day in this industry, Goodman Manu-facturing Co. stands somewhat by itself. And that’s by choice.

“We have to do what we have to do,” says John B. Goodman, chairman of Goodman Holding Co. “We focus on ourselves. We never focus on the competition.”

And, make no mistake for whom Goodman manufactures hvac equipment.

“Contractors are our customers,” stressed Goodman at a recent gathering of the company’s senior management team here. “My father was a contractor and that’s how this company started. It’s our heritage. We will continue to provide quality products to the industry and to the contractor. We believe our formula is correct. My father wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Founder Was a Contractor

John’s father, Harold V. Goodman, founded the company 25 years ago. The elder Goodman was a contractor himself, owner of American Airco, which at one time was the largest residential installer in the U.S. (15,000 systems a year in Houston). Jim Plant, who worked with the company’s founder, remembers Harold Goodman’s concern.

“He was looking for two things: 1) better price and 2) not having to go back to work on what was just installed,” says Plant, who is now president of Goodman’s American Distributors, Inc. “He was thinking of the contractor when he started this company. It’s still the same today.”

In 1982, with the purchase of Janitrol®, Goodman entered the market as a manufacturer of central air conditioners and heat pumps. It was at this time, founder Goodman is quoted as saying, “We will revolutionize the heating and air conditioning industry with the highest quality equipment manufactured by the best producing workforce in the business and sold at the lowest prices in the market.”

“That is what Goodman is still all about,” says Plant. “We’ve gone 19 years without a price increase. Our prices continue to be the lowest. After all, this is air conditioning. There doesn’t have to be anything sexy here.”

No arguing with the philosophy that is, apparently, working. Goodman is considered the world’s largest privately held air conditioning, heating, and appliance manufacturer.

“We just look after the contractor,” says the younger Goodman. “We have no plans to compete with the contractor. That’s not us. You earn market share better than you can buy it.”

According to senior management, Harold Goodman’s fundamental principles remain un-changed. In their eyes, put high quality with low cost and that spells value for the contractor.

“We make sure there is an ease of installation and no needed callbacks,” says cfo and cio David R. Parks. “We are proud of these things. Our products work and work very well.”

In the boardroom at company headquarters, Goodman displays its ARI-approved performance award certificates. Goodman has consistently earned 100% success rates in several categories since ARI started the program in 1986.

“We have even published our failure rates, but failures are rare,” says Plant. “No one else dares to publish their failure rate.”

“We have nothing to hide,” says president and ceo Garland Winningham. “We have not received a ‘bad mark’ from ARI. We do full-blown testing on each and every product we make. It is sacred to us.”

“It is why we can offer a long-term warranty,” says Charles Russ, vp of Sales & Marketing. “We can’t afford to not test. Our contractors have said ‘Give me a good quality product and let me service it less.’ That’s what we provide for them. It’s worked well for us.”

Goodman offers five years on all parts, 10 years on all parts for 12-plus SEER split and packaged system air conditioning and heat pump outdoor units, 20 years on the heat exchanger on 80% AFUE gas furnaces, and lifetime warranties on the heat exchangers in 92% AFUE gas furnaces.

“Contractors need to look at our product line,” says Jeff Ellingham, vp of Engineering. “We look out for them when we design our products.”

Goodman’s “Quality Assurance Policy” states: “Goodman Manu-facturing Company is committed to excellence, quality, and defect-free products and services that satisfy the requirements of our customers’ expectations the first time, every time.”

Former Contractors Are in the Front Office

According to Ellingham, easy installation, operation, and maintenance has always been part of Goodman’s design strategy. Com-ponents that go into Goodman equipment must meet these same design standards, too. This is why, says Ellingham, the company uses dependable suppliers such as GE, Bristol, Lau, and Parker Hannifin.

“Additional value is then engineered into every unit,” says Ellingham, who worked as a helper and then a technician for C&C Temperature Control in Spring, TX, while attending high school and college.

Ellingham, in other words, has been on the other side of the fence. He believes he knows what a contractor wants. At C&C, his responsibilities included installing and repairing commercial air conditioning and refrigeration eqipment. He then took a position with Time Energy System in Houston, where he was involved with designing and supervising the installation of waste heat recovery systems for commercial air conditioning equipment.

“We are interfaced with the contractor,” says Ellingham. “That’s important.”

Like Ellingham, Winningham has been on the other side of the fence, too. He worked as a Chrysler Air Temp contractor in Michigan from 1964 to 1971. He started as a service representative and ended up owning the company before moving into a manufacturing career.

“We are good at listening because we were contractors ourselves,” says Winningham. “It was Mr. Goodman who said there are five things for success: quality, plus cost, cost, cost, and cost. That’s what we zeroed in on. We don’t have our heads in the sand. We listen to our customer.”

It’s why Goodman is coming out with some new products soon, Winningham confides.

“It is time to turn up the heat,” he says. “The year 2001 is going to be a pivotal year for us. All of the new products we are going to introduce were generated by the needs of our customer, the contractor.”

No details were given, but expect a new air handler, a whole new furnace line, a redesigned cooling line, and new coil lines.

“We are who we are,” says Winningham. “We are the contractor’s best friend.”

Sidebar:The Goodman Evolution


  • 1995 — Goodman opens gas/electric packaged unit plant in Houston, TX.
  • 1997 — Goodman purchases Amana, enters the home appliance market.
  • Today, the Goodman family of companies represents seven manufacturing facilities and over 4 million sq ft of manufacturing space. The company is No. 66 on Forbes’ list of the top 100 privately held firms.

    Publication date: 10/16/2000