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Family involvement keeps Goyen Electric going

By ALLISON MILES
June 25, 2012 at 1:25 a.m.

Wesley Zimmerman, Kacey Reinhart and Phillip Trenck, with Goyen Electric, mount three light fixtures on a 30-foot pole that is being installed in the parking lot of Victoria Transit. Goyen Electric has been a family-owned company for nearly 40 years, starting in 1972.

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From intricate diagrams to high-voltage hangups, electrical work is strenuous. But it helps to have employees who work together like family.

Such is the case for Goyen Electric Co., where much of the staff is, in fact, related.

It's those familial ties that they say keep the company going strong after nearly 40 years.

Goyen Electric got its start on July 28, 1972, when Dan and Gennelle Goyen leased space on Ben Jordan Street. In the beginning, the business specialized in electrical contracting, said Danny Goyen, an electrical estimator, and the owner's son.

The business moved to its current home, 1003 N. William St., a few years later, and grew both its services as the number of Goyens under one roof. Today the staff includes, among others, Dan, Danny and Danny's son, Daniel Goyen.

It might get confusing, Danny said, but people find ways around the issue.

"When people call, especially over the last 10 years, they'll distinguish between Big Dan, Dan Jr. or Daniel," he said. "But we have some people just call and say, 'Give me one of the Dans."

Both he and his son admitted working with relatives can be a challenge. Still, everyone has a role, Daniel said, and knows to stay within that role.

When tensions do rise, employees are quick to admit when they're wrong.

"Dad's taught us that the most important sentence is, 'I'm sorry, please forgive me. I was wrong. How can I make it better?'" Danny said. "We try not to carry any type of offense to the next day."

After decades in business, the memories add up nearly as quickly as jobs do.

The company's annual Christmas party, with its barbecue fajitas, holds a special place in Daniel's heart, for instance, while on-the-job surprises also stand out. Electrical work takes Goyen employees out to the middle of nowhere, he said, and brushes with wildlife happen.

"You'll hear stories of snakes curled up in barbecue pits or alligators on oil sites," he said. "You just never know what to expect."

For Danny, Goyen's ceiling fan ads from the early 1980s top his favorite memories. Fans were new at the time, he said, and the company took to outdoorsy ads.

"We hung a fan in the middle of a lake where we had a hunting lease," he said, noting the shoot began about an hour before daylight set in. "It looked like the beginning of a hunting commercial, but then we turned the fan on and it said something like, 'Goyen Electric is blowing away ceiling fan prices.'"

Ceiling fans were a big deal when they first entered the market, he said, and Goyen might sell 300 or 400 during a truckload sale. Although the business still sells some, sales dropped once home improvement stores began selling imports.

Other changes came with time.

Danny said he remembered his first years with the company, when he worked as an electrician's helper. Then, the job meant unrolling long extension cords from the power source to the job site, a task virtually eliminated by today's battery-powered devices.

Computers eliminated the need for hand-written invoices, while plans that once arrived in giant tubes via mail now come on a space-saving disc. Daniel also noted that Goyen was the first such company in town to go online.

Inner workings of the company might have updated since the '70s, they said, but the big things remain as they always have been.

It's still all in the family, for instance, and Danny said his 75-year-old father, that original founder, still visits regularly to keep the staff in line.

He and Daniel said it's the company's customer service - technicians take their vans home so they can answer calls quickly - and reputation for quality that help it stand the test of time. And Danny said plans are to continue moving forward.

"I've chosen to be here, just like my dad and uncle," Danny said. "We take pride in the Goyen name. We want to keep going."

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