Raising an Industry’s Profile
Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical’s purposeful approach to people, processes and service
For Jason Godby, business ownership is laid out in his company’s mission statement—make life better. He believes in people before profits, a perspective that might seem idealistic or even unsustainable to some, and that if you take care of your people, they’ll take care of your customers—a win-win perspective that takes care of the bottom line.
As the President of Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical (Godby), an Indianapolis-based commercial and industrial heating and air conditioning contractor, Jason and his leadership team have built on a name that has become synonymous with quality service in the region.
With an emphasis on education, appreciation and a visible commitment to a job well done, Godby is one of the region’s top HVAC design, installation, maintenance and repair companies—all while doing its part to rebuild a strong, proud skilled trades profession.
Three Trades, One Team
In the context of HVAC, the Godby name. Jason grew up around the family HVAC business. Initially, he chose a slightly different path and studied business at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis.
While in college, he worked on a ranch in Colorado, where he met his wife, got married and started a family. Along the way, Jason started working in the construction industry, primarily with a general contractor. He and his family ultimately returned to Indianapolis in 2007, where he started his own general contracting company.
In 2011, Jason made another course adjustment. He decided to buy and run the family business, which at the time specialized in HVAC as well as home services such as windows, roofing and siding.
“It’s easy in our industry to expand beyond familiar geographic and service expertise,” Jason says. “My vision was to get the business back to its core strength, which is a commercial HVAC company with plumbing and electrical services as a natural complement to those services.”
Godby’s motto, “Three Trades, One Team,” is a reminder that even though the company offers services in three trades, the employees must work as a team in order to be successful.
“We had a very talented group of HVAC experts, specifically in terms of engineering, project management and installation,” says Kevin Greisl, Vice President of Godby, who has a long history in the HVAC controls/energy management industry. When refocusing back on the three trades, many of those teammates from the former company joined Jason and Kevin at Godby. The two believed that honing their team’s skills would distinguish Godby in the marketplace and optimize opportunities for business in the commercial sector, an area where Jason was especially comfortable.
Jason says, “I knew what it took to get a quality project completed on time and on schedule from a general contractor perspective and believed we could form quality partnerships to complete jobs of all scope and scale.”
Outside the Norm
Since Jason bought the company in 2011, Godby has built a strong reputation with its team of collaborators and problem solvers. The company specializes in design, retrofit, maintenance, repair and emergency HVAC needs throughout central Indiana. The Special Projects group is among the fastest growing groups in the company, providing large-scale HVAC commercial construction work, including unit replacements and tenant interior build-outs, on some of the most complex new and renovation projects. Jason believes that the key to the company’s success is his team’s ability to ask better questions.
“Many contractors have a favored mechanical or electrical package and spec the same equipment and solutions,” explains Jason, “which may or may not be the best solution for a unique project. At times, that methodology can be like cramming a square peg into a round hole.”
Borrowing from his experience as a general contractor, Jason and his team evaluate all project requirements, including those beyond HVAC, and develop the best solution to meet those needs.
A case in point, Godby performed all the HVAC work on The MK apartment complex, a 100+ unit building with retail on the first floor in Indianapolis.
“This was a logistical nightmare. It was a super-tight space on a busy street. There was no place to park and no place to store anything,” says Kevin, which he says emphasized the need to have things timed just right, including last-minute deliveries, since the space was so limited.
The $50 million Shoppes at Whitestown retail development in Whitestown, Indiana, completed in 2019, was another challenging endeavor. The project included two large buildings with more than 300,000 square feet of retail space and seven out-parcels comprising almost 165,000 square feet and nine other retailers with just over 100,000 square feet of space, plus green space and a pocket park.
“If you come on board with Godby, we already have a custom roadmap for your personal professional growth.” Kevin Greisl, Vice President, Godby Heating Plumbing Electrical
The Godby team had to coordinate rooftop equipment and automation controls for six different projects from six different owners and all six projects had different requirements.
Kevin remembers, “This was one contract with many pieces and all with deadlines on top of each other. The general contractor was depending on us to meet the customer deadlines.”
Another project involved the renovation of a 130,000-square-foot industrial facility into an auto supply manufacturing and distribution center. Although Godby is used to doing design-build work for industrial plants, this project was very complex.
“With this project, every piece of equipment was unique. It wasn’t your standard build. We had to design around each piece of equipment, knowing and understanding every application,” Kevin explains.
Delivering optimized customer solutions, according to Jason, begins with his people. “We know that in order to succeed we have to create an experience where everyone wins—our customers, our company and especially our team members,” he says.
A Roadmap for Growth
The square peg/round hole analogy is applicable to the way Jason and Kevin build and support their team of highly trained mechanical, plumbing and electrical project managers and technicians.
Jason says, “We’re looking for a long-term commitment from everyone we hire, therefore we feel it’s our responsibility to make a similar investment in their professional development.”
That commitment is multifaceted, with education as a top priority. “We believe that people who are continually learning have a much higher chance of making this business a career…and not just a job,” Jason confirms. “That’s what we want for them and for us. Their dedication and expertise is the only way we will live up to our slogan, ‘It’s Gotta be Godby!’ ”
Kevin agrees, adding, “If you come on board with Godby, we already have a custom roadmap for your personal professional growth.”
The company typically partners with the Associated Builders and Contractors of Indiana/Kentucky Chapter, taking advantage of the group’s formal apprenticeship programs, specific task training modules, project management courses, best practices for collaboration and coordination and much more. Currently, 14 employees, with experience ranging from zero to 10+ years, are enrolled in the association’s apprenticeship program.
“Even those with on-the-job experience are provided additional education,” Jason says. “We want our people to have all the appropriate certifications that designate them as an expert in their field of choice as well as the soft skills to communicate with our customers.”
Boots, Breakfast and a Belief
Beyond education, as well as competitive pay and benefits, the Godby leadership team believes in building relationships within the company to further assure a good teamwork mentality on the job.
Jason and Kevin know every one of the 50+ individuals that works for them, and in most cases, the employees’ spouses and children as well. Jason adds, “I firmly believe that my job is to take care of my people and their job is to take care of our customers.”
Some of that care comes in the form of team building events. One of the most popular is the biannual field appreciation day hosted by Godby’s management team. This event includes a full breakfast for crews to enjoy while the managers and the team in the office wash the trucks of the field crew. Godby also hosts a summer party for team members and their families and an annual holiday party. On National Tradesmen Day, managers deliver restaurant gift cards to all their team members in the field to show appreciation for their hard work. Godby also provides tool accounts for crew members so that employees can earn points to buy new tools, once again helping to invest in their future.
As much fun as the employees like to have at Godby, safety is never a laughing matter. Every year, for example, Jason has the Red Wing for Business mobile shoe store come to the Godby offices. Everyone gets a new pair of safety toe electrical hazard boots.
Through safety, education and personal development, the Godby team is reshaping the image of professionals in the construction space.
“When I first started in construction, I worked for a superintendent who was 60+ years old. He talked about how honorable it used to be to go into the trades,” Jason recalls. “For some time now, the perception has been that construction is a fall back job when everything else fails.”
In his mind, that’s simply not the case. “My people are highly skilled and trained in the very complex world of mechanical systems. Our ability to deliver best-fit solutions on schedule and on time is dependent on them,” he says. “Together, we’re optimizing our services with excellence, and reshaping the perception of our industry.”