Carl A. Goodwin, Inc. was featured in Builder/Architect (Maine Edition) magazine in the March, 1999 issue. Here is the feature from that issue.

 

 

"When I started out on my own in the fall of 1971, Dad loaned me his tools and his truck," recalls Carl Goodwin with obvious sentiment and gratitude. "He beleived in me and gave me the confidence to try my hand at doing something I loved."

The result of that faith and encouragedment is Carl A. Goodwin, Inc., a building construction company that has evolved through hard time and boom years.

Involved in the construction trade since he was 15 years old, Carl has always known he wanted to make a career in the industry. Carl is a native of Biddeford, ME, and graduated from Biddeford High School and Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute (now Southern Maine Technical College). He worked for a commercial contractor in Yarmouth for three years. His father, a machinist and, as Carl refers to him, a jack-of-all-trades, was his inspiration and greatest supporter.

"We do anything from small repairs and renovations to large custom homes," says Carl. " The key to our success is that we do each project with the same goals in mind-- a quality finished product and satisfied customers."

Carl A. Goodwin, Inc. is well known in southern Maine, with a pedigree of 28 years of quality work delivered in a timely fashion. Carl has 12 employees in the field and last year built five homes in addition to two major additions. He has hopes of building 10 homes this year.

"I enjoy building nice homes for people who appreciate what they get," says Carl. "I beleive in being honest and up front with all my customers. We give clients the very best for the money they spend. When a house is done, I hope never to go back unless I'm invited for dinner," quips Carl. "Of course, if any problem does arise, we take care of it promptly."

His wife, Betty, whom he married in 1971, claims that Carl is bit of a perfectionist.

"He has a mental picture of how things should look and he goes after that look," she says. "He works with a lot of draftsmen and architects' plans, but he scrutinizes those plans and comes up with ideas in the process of building that truly enhance the finished product."

Much of Carl's success in the building construction business lies in his ability to know what's going to work right so that the entire structure will flow well. He seems to have an inherent talent for explaining to his clients what will work and what won't. Carl cites a recent experience with a couple planning to have a home built. When they asked for ideas, Carl questioned whether they wanted him to be their builder or if the house would be a bid project. They responded that it would probably go up for bid.

"Well," said Carl, "if it's a bid job, I'll tell you what I can do for you. However, if you want to consider me as your builder and we're going to work together, my approach will be a litlle different."

After looking at their plans, Carl asked if they knew what was meant by certain roof lines symbols. They had no idea. His explaination gave them a better visual perception of the design, and they realized that there was less room on the second floor than they had thought.

"Okay, you be the builder and let's redesign this house," was their answer.

As a result, they have one of the nicest homes in the area.

Carl looks back to 1970 to the first home he built on his own. It was definitely a labor of love. Carl was working for a contractor and, in whatever spare time he had, building the big colonial home that he and Betty would live in. He worked every evening and weekend for a year. It was a team effort, with his family helping whenever they could. Everything was done in-house--from foundation to roofing.

"Betty got all the 'junk jobs," says Carl, "and she married me anyway!"

Since that time, Carl and his staff have framed 1,000-plus homes. His projects have included condos, as well as reconstruction of an old factory in Kennebunk. The original building was literally falling to pieces. Goodwin's crew tore off a large section and built it back up into 28 apartments. He and Betty were the landlords for a time, but later sold the building.

"I remember the hard times when we drove so many miles to get to a job because they were so scarce. The problem now is getting qualified carpenters to do all the work that is available. To be better prepared to work in the building construction field, more young men and women graduating from high school building programs should attend technical schools. There are a lot of people out there who know one or two components of the trade, but few who know the full process from start to finish. Hopefully, this trend will reverse itself and more qualified people will be available."

Carl A. Goodwin, Inc. currently is working on several projects, including homes on Hills Beach and in Saco. They also did an addition in Scarborough that involved taking the house down to the first floor and, essentially, starting over.

"It was more cost-effective for us and better for the homeowner to start anew instead of leaving parts of a couple walls and patching in. The original studs were placed haphazardly and the wiring was not adequate. Sometimes starting fresh is the best way to go," says Carl.

The Goodwin crews are found at a wide gamut of projects, from small repairs and renovations to $75,000 starter homes and on up the scale to lavish houses in the $500,000 range. Recently, Carl was doing a repair for a client for whom his company had built a home over 18 years ago. She asked him how he had survived so long in the business; because her observation had been that people don't usually last that long in the building trade.

His reply: "Probably because I am here doing this now."

Carl prides himself on always taking care of his customers' needs and being willing to do repair jobs that some other builders might not get involved with. Relying on word of mouth as his primary marketing tool for attracting new clients, Carl knows the advantages of keeping customers satisfied and happy.

"Honestly, good workmanship and standing behind your product is the best advertising there is," says Carl.

Carl considers his trademark to be the screened porches that adorn many of his larger homes. Built of tongue and groove natural finish pine walls and ceilings with floors of pine or cedar, the porches have storm window panels in the winter and screens in the summer.

"We've built eight or nine in the last few years;" says Carl. "People love them. Several folks use them year round, using various types of heaters in the winter."

Carl's advise to people new in the trade is to remember that "nothing is good enough; it has to be right."

Carl and Betty live in Saco and have a 22-year-old daughter, Lynn, and a son, Adam, who is 20. A big man with a big heart, Carl believes that you should give something back to the community in which you live. He is a long-term Rotarian and is the chairman of their Vocational House Committee. By providing funding and advise, this program sponsors the building of a house by trade students at a local vocational high school each year. After completion, the house is sold and the profits are presented to the Rotary's charitable funds. Carl is also on the board of directors of a local bank and is a member of the Home Builders Association of Maine.