Goettl vans can be seen all over the East Valley, installing units or servicing them. The company has been based in Tempe for 13 years.
Special to the Tribune

For 78 years, Goettl Air Conditioning has been cooling off the sweltering East Valley. Now, the hard-to-spell company is adjusting to new consumer needs and technology while expanding its footprint to Southern California and Nevada.

Gust and Adam Goettl developed the Phoenix area’s first evaporative cooler and refrigerated air conditioning unit in 1939 to battle the severe desert temperatures, according to the Goettl website.

Dan Burke, chairman of Goettl, joined the company in 1989.

“At the time I came, the business was focused on building and manufacturing of air conditioning equipment,” Burke said of the Tempe-based firm. “As time went by, we could see there was a growing need for high-quality and expert contracting to repair and replace units.”

Goettl survived and thrived in its small-business phase.

“We were one of the fewer smaller manufacturers still operating,” he said. “Most had already been gobbled up by bigger companies. In this business, you can’t be a small manufacturer.”

Times have changed for Goettl.

“We’re a big contractor but we’re a relative small company and we do what we can,” Burke said.

“We do have a shortage of technicians and will probably always have that going forward. There is a lot of movement of employees, and a lot of competing for technicians.”

Burke listed reasons Goettl is a great place for an air conditioning tech to work.

“We have work year-round, at a level that will keep anybody who is good and wants to be successful in this industry busy,” he said. “We have a great operation here.”

The company’s unique Southwestern base helps it approach the job differently.

“For us, it’s not a hobby,” Burke said. “Back East and in the Midwest, you can open a window. But here, it’s not that way.

“It’s not just temperatures but dust storms and the monsoon. You need compression systems to deal with that. Otherwise, your utilities bills will continue to increase.

“Goettl provides comfort at a decent price.”

The company also made the shift to service because of government regulation.

“I’m not sure the typical homeowner realizes the regulations in this business,” Burke said. “We had to shift our focus to become expert in service. That has allowed us to grow.

“We decided to let the bigger companies make the best equipment and we would focus on the best service and installation. That was a good decision for us.”

Goettl and Burke have seen a lot of new innovations in their years. Among the most current are variable-speed and variable-capacity units.

“Now, units can operate at a lower performance level when you have less areas to cool or the temperature is less demanding,” Burke said. “That saves money and gives more comfort.

“Having it not run, then run like hell, then not run doesn’t provide the best comfort.”

Networked units and apps are also changing the game.

“Another thing being implemented now is self-diagnostics systems that will alert the homeowner or service company to things it detects,” he said.

“Now, you can get applications through your wireless device to control the thermostat. When you’re getting on an airplane, you can tell your home in Phoenix to turn on the air conditioning.

“It’s really a wireless thing. The next generation of people are quite comfortable with those kinds of apps.”

Despite all the new tech, gadgets and gizmos, the best thing a consumer can do to help keep the air conditioner in good shape is a simple one.

“Make sure the filters are changed regularly,” Burke said. “If you don’t do that, you can get debris, cat hair and dust into the coils of the equipment, and that reduces the efficiency and slows down air flow.”

Burke also recommends maintenance.

“Units should be checked every year,” he said. “Refrigerant, tuneups and a general tightening would avoid a really extensive, serious failure later.

“Relatively modest repairs can help avoid major repairs."

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