Goodway Technologies still innovating after half-century in Stamford

By Kevin Zimmerman

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Goodway Technologies, a global manufacturer and marketer of industrial maintenance equipment for commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, is wrapping up its 50th anniversary by completing renovations to its Stamford facilities, adding some 20 employees and introducing a slate of new products.

Just how long it can stay in Stamford, however, is an open question.

“We’ve done everything we can to fight to stay here,” said Goodway President and CEO Timothy J. Kane. “It’s harder and harder to do so with each passing year.”

Kane cited the high cost of living in the area as well as transportation difficulties faced by employees living in lower Fairfield County and the state’s “challenging environment” when it comes to business-friendly practices as among his greatest concerns. Connecticut was ranked 39th of 50 on Forbes magazine’s 2015 list of the best states for business.

Playing in Stamford’s favor is the $1 million loan Goodway received last year from the State Bond Commission to renovate its property; the company is eligible for $650,000 to be forgiven if it hits its employment targets, which Kane said should be completed by year’s end.

Goodway invested $1.7 million of its own to renovate its 2-acre facility at 420 West Ave., razing a main warehouse and replacing it with a much larger, modernized space of 15,000 square feet that will accommodate its shipping department expansion and production and assembly operations. The company employs 93 people and is about halfway toward its goal of hiring 20 new employees by year’s end, Kane said.

Goodway’s Stamford roots are strong. Incorporated in 1966, it was founded by Norwegian immigrant Per Reichborn in the basement of his Stamford home as a firm focused entirely on selling a unique boiler-cleaning system. Since that time, the company’s inventory has steadily grown to encompass the entire HVAC space, including chillers, heat exchangers, cooling towers and cleaning and maintenance products.

“We’re a category maker,” said Kane, who joined the company 21 years ago to work in its sales department. “HVAC workers used to use equipment from various suppliers that were not necessarily specifically intended for those uses, using pressure washers to clean coils that were sometimes very fragile. We created a category of very specific solutions for commercial use.”

“We develop engineering-based solutions for customers to help them sustain their efforts and reduce their operating costs. Goodway is a brand that is very well-known within the confines of our vertical marketplace. Building maintenance workers are fiercely loyal to our brand.”

Those customers are not limited to North America; Goodway also maintains sales arms in Central and South America, Europe, the Middle and Far East, Africa, and Australia. Kane said that about 17 percent of its annual business comes from approximately 125 international markets.

Also loyal are its employees, many of whom have been with the company for decades. “It’s very important to have this be a closely knit company,” Kane said, “one that’s vertically integrated, not outsourced. It’s a relatively family-type environment — we have very liberal benefits policies that include impromptu days off. We’ve done nothing but grow for 50 years. People hang on for the ride and appreciate the company and what we’re doing.”

To keep its forward momentum going, Goodway is adding three new products developed, tested, manufactured and sold in Stamford by its employees, with a combined total of six patents pending. They include a new coil cleaner that utilizes dry chemical tablet technology to replace bulky, hazardous, and expensive liquid chemicals on job sites; the CoilShot, produced by Goodway subsidiary SpeedClean, which utilizes the same technology to provide residential and light commercial HVAC contractors with more economical, smaller, portable versions of existing Goodway products; and the TFC-200 system, designed to eradicate biological growth, debris and scale from cooling tower fill.

The firm also maintains a significant philanthropic presence in support of local, regional and national organizations, including Boys and Girls Club of America, Habitat for Humanity, Mystic Aquarium and Wounded Warriors. Goodway will match up to $100 of employee contributions to any charitable organization.

“If it makes sense to them, it makes sense to us as an organization,” Kane said. “That sends the message to our employees that we are an employer that takes giving back to the community seriously.”

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