Armistice Day in 1918 officially marked the end of World War I. Shortly thereafter, three brothers by the name of Goodfellow — Jim, Bert and Jack — found themselves in a Paris cafe discussing their future plans. They all wished to return home and lend post-war assistance to the country they’d just served, and under the GI Bill, the trio obtained degrees from the University of Washington: Jim majored in engineering, while Bert and Jack studied business and finance.
When the chance to bid on a road construction job arose in 1921, the brothers melded their talents and formed Goodfellow Bros., Inc. (GBI), based in Wentachee, Washington. “They wanted to build roads so farmers could take their products to market, and dams so people could have electricity in their homes,” recalls Jim’s grandson, Steve, the current chairman of the board for GBI.
The company was awarded the project — extending Swakane Road in Wenatchee, Washington — and used horse-drawn Fresno scrapers — the precursor to most modern-day earth-movers — to complete the task. In 1933, GBI played a critical role in the construction of the Grand Coulee Dam near Spokane, which required the excavation of some two million yards of earth and stone.
Today, with approximately 1,300 employees and decades of collective experience under their tool belts, this hard-hat-wearing family of contractors reflects on the company’s core values, which have endured over the past century.
“When people come to work for us, they join our family,” Steve explains. “We care about our employees’ well-being beyond the workplace.” This innate sense of responsibility literally goes back 100 years: While running that initial 1921 road-construction project, the Goodfellow brothers opened a night school for their immigrant Greek and Italian workers to help them pass their U.S. citizenship test.
The ’70s brought an opportunity for GBI to partner with Boeing on a sewage-treatment plant in Kīhei, and Steve’s father (Jim Goodfellow Jr.) relocated the company’s headquarters to Maui. Since then, GBI has completed numerous infrastructure projects on the island, including the Central Maui Regional Sports Complex in 2017, the Upcountry Skate Park in 2018, an environmentally friendly car rental facility at Kahului Airport in 2019, and permanent repairs toan airport taxiway in 2020. “Our company wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of our Maui clients,” says Steve.
Steve’s son Chad, CEO and fourth-generation GBI leader, expresses gratitude toward the local community. “Maui has done so much for our family and we believe it’s our responsibility to help the island whenever we can,” he says.
GBI has acquired some unique tools and machines which enable them to contribute to emergency-response efforts, flood relief and wildfire control. For example, in the Hāli‘imaile and Olowalu fires in 2020, they employed a new high-tech system called ICRI (incident command radio interoperability) to connect the Maui Fire Department and GBI crews with the helicopters performing the water drops.
“Over [the course of a century], people, equipment and processes change,” says Steve. “But you should never change your core values — who you are, how you show respect and how you interact with the community.”
“Anyone can buy equipment and do what we do,” adds Chad. “What makes us different is we don’t simply say these are our values — we actually live them.”
Goodfellow Bros., Inc., 1300 N. Holopono St., Suite 201, Kīhei | 808.879.5205 | GoodfellowBros.com | IG/FB @goodfellowbros