Kenneth Goddard is not a person who shoots from the hip. He is a purposeful, thoughtful and confident leader who enjoys the challenges that he faces in one of the most complex areas of rigging services. He has earned the respect of his co-workers, customers and industry friends though his hard work and successes performing intricate jobs.
Goddard has been working in the industry since he was in high school in the early 1970s. His father owned a rigging and transportation company in mid-Michigan where he worked summers and weekends.
“I started by sweeping the floors,” he remembered. “I joined the Ironworkers in 1976, right after high school, and worked my way from being in the crew, to supervisory positions, then to project management positions and on to my current role as vice president of operations of International Industrial Contracting Corporation (IICC).
IICC is a family owned and operated rigging company that first opened for business in 1961. Today it is run by the grandsons of the founder, a third-generation owner. The company grew into its current core expertise, equipment installations and plant relocations, under the guidance of the founder’s son, Douglas Jardine, and it continues to increase its annual volume every year under the direction of the founder’s grandson, Brian Jardine, Goddard said.
Goddard serves as vice president of Mexican operations, responsible for the company’s office in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. He runs all work south of the border, including Mexico and South America.
While he has been in the industry for more than 40 years, he is still as intrigued by it as ever.
“The ever-changing landscape of this industry is what interests me the most,” he said. “The challenges grow every time we meet the present challenge.”
Goddard said clients often think that if you can do a bodyshop in six months, why not do it in five months the next time?
“Or if you can fly a 650-ton crown on this press, why not an 800-ton crown on the next press?” he said. “We must continuously set the bar higher, and we continue to raise our game to meet the challenges.”
“The ever-changing landscape of this industry is what interests me the most. The challenges grow every time we meet the present challenge.” -Kenneth Goddard, Vice President, International Industrial Contracting Corporation
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IICC performs a wide array of services for its clients, from day work setting single machines in place to full turnkey automotive bodyshops, stamping plants and powertrain facilities.
“Equipment setting is our core expertise,” Goddard explained. “We have also elevated ourselves to one of the few premier press installation contractors in the industry today. During the 2008 downturn, IICC was buying gantries and gantry accessories in order to meet the needs of a changing automotive market wherein plant consolidation was a top priority as car companies and their suppliers downsized in order to keep their heads above water.”
I see Goddard a few times a year at SC&RA events and he is always cordial and at ease with his peers. He responds quickly when I send him emails about ACT articles or to catch up about an industry issue. When I asked him to participate in this Q&A Interview, it was amazing to me how much thought he put into answering my questions. I think you will find his answers informative, resourceful and inspiring.
Equipment setting is the core expertise of International Industrial Contracting Corporation. Kenneth Goddard manages all the company’s projects south of the border, in Mexico and South America.
Your company performs some pretty difficult jobs. Is anything ever routine?
No, nothing is routine these days, especially when you are performing projects in Mexico. With safety being the overriding priority, and each project having its own unique set of circumstances, the approach is quite different today. People tend to think that a robot is a robot, or a press is a press, but it’s where that robot and press gets installed, and what has to be overcome for that to happen, is where the planning and execution skills really highlight themselves.
Your company uses a lot of really specialized equipment in varying ways. What’s the most useful piece of equipment in your company’s fleet?
IICC owns a fleet of over 700 pieces of equipment, and it’s all specialized for what we do. When it comes to bodyshop and general assembly work, we feel our 15,000-pound capacity Hyster fork trucks are the key. They are able to get into tight quarters and perform the task. However, when it comes to press work, our 80,000-pound capacity Taylor Rigger Special models, our low profile 200-ton die carts and the gantry systems are the equipment of choice. It’s very difficult to call any one piece of equipment in the fleet “the most useful,” as each piece has its use and the owners of IICC have a very user-friendly philosophy wherein they will spend the money required so the team has the tools and equipment they need to perform the work. This makes for safe and efficient project execution.
What are the biggest challenges you face in this industry?
The biggest challenge we face as an employer today is the future of a skilled workforce. There is a national labor shortage for skilled trades because when times were slow sons stopped following in their father’s footsteps. The unions and associations like the SC&RA have stepped up their involvement in the development of today’s youth with better training programs and facilities and events such as SC&RA’s Lift & Move USA, which is meant to showcase what the industry does in order to increase the interest level of the future workforce. Human resources will continue to be a challenge for years to come until the next generation of workers fill the voids created by attrition and a previous lack of interest.
You have long been active in SC&RA, its committees and events. What is it about this organization that keeps you involved and participating?
I am a third-generation SC&RA member. My grandfather was one of the founding members, my father was a past president and so was my older brother. It is basically in my blood. To be surrounded by so many like-minded people is truly special because we speak the same language, no matter what country you’re from, and we face the same everyday challenges, so the solutions are plentiful. Also, by reaching out to other members in the directory in all parts of the world, you are able to perform every project just as though you were working locally because you are able to work with someone local who understands what it is you do. It also allows you to better meet client needs.
You are chairman of the SC&RA Crane & Rigging Workshop. What goes into planning this event?
The staff at the SC&RA are amazing, so even though the planning effort is massive, the support is there and it seems easy to the naked eye. As the chair of the Governing Committee, I have a fair amount of responsibility while the Workshop takes place, but other than sitting in on task forces made up of other members to discuss breakout sessions and speakers, the real load is carried by the SC&RA team. They should be commended for the role they play in making this a seamless event.
What do you think will be the quick takeaways from the Workshop?
One of the exciting takeaways from this and future workshops is the Leadership Forum. This recently formed group has a goal to develop the best and brightest of the Association’s young minds and new members in order to be the future of the Association. The Forum is staffed by SC&RA members who mentor the target group as to how to get the most out of the Association and how to develop the networking skills that are crucial to thriving in the industry today.
The breakout sessions are also a great tool for all members because the topics, such as “Mobile Cranes On The Move” and “Tackle Any Job With Better Tool Management,” are relevant to the everyday challenges our companies face.
What is your business philosophy?
At the risk of sounding cliché, work safe, work hard and do your best in every aspect of the job so that if something doesn’t work out quite as well as it should have, you know you did everything in your power to make it work. We all face challenges every day and hard work will generally overcome those challenges, but I have learned over the years to raise my hand when I need help. I have found that when you ask for help, the team will surround you and provide assistance. If you are honest about your effort and approach, you will always be able to find the help you need, not only from co-workers, but from clients as well.
What do you like to do in your leisure time, when you are not working?
Work! Leisure time is a very fleeting phrase in my vocabulary.
Seriously though, I spend a lot of my time with a young man whom I met through Healing the Children back when he was 11 months old. He came to live with us when he was 2 ½ years old and he is currently 17 years old. So, in my leisure time, I find myself coaching youth baseball and helping him meet his social schedule.
My wonderful wife Adriana and I are also very much into traveling around the world and checking off items on our bucket list(s). We relax at home with crafts and gardening projects as well.