A good guy

John Gooding begins his journey as NRCA president

The year was 1969. John Gooding had returned from Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, where he spent 9 1/2 months as a replacement depot processing clerk. Gooding soon immersed himself in running the family business with his father, Fred. But Gooding's return to the United States was not easy. The local roofers union—Local 30 in Philadelphia—wanted to put Gooding, Simpson & Mackes out of business.

Gooding, chairman of the board of Gooding, Simpson & Mackes, Ephrata, Pa., explains: "The business was being threatened by the Philadelphia roofers union to the point it was trying to destroy us. By 1974, the union threats escalated. A union representative would call me saying: ‘I know where your son is. I know where your wife is.' I was within three days or four days of moving my family. Then, the FBI got involved."

For two years, Gooding carried a pistol with him to protect himself, his family and his workers. One Saturday, union people shot at Gooding, Simpson & Mackes roofing workers at a commercial job site. The project was stopped, but Gooding was determined to finish it.

"The union told us we would never finish that job," Gooding remembers. "And I went to my employees and told them: 'I want to finish this job because they are threatening us. They are threatening your livelihood. And I think we have to [finish it].' With the exception of one worker, who preferred not to finish the job for religious reasons but was willing to help, each of them said, 'I will finish the job for you.' The FBI was involved, and we had a police escort. The state police cordoned off the industrial park, and we completed the project."