When Ron Goodwin started Goodwin Industries in Burns in 1981, his intention was to have his son, Larry Goodwin, work with him. Now 30 years later three generations of Goodwins work side by side to create various items out of metal.
The business has come a long way from building hydraulic hay beds. Now product lines include contract work, header sweeps, a round load shoot for cattle, and their top seller, wood and charcoal grills and smokers. Each person involved in the business is key in the decision making, which is why when Ron’s grandson, Zac Goodwin, wanted to make farm toys they all got to work.
“It was a way to diversify and counter the economy,” Zac said. “It’s a different area to target customers.”
A basic kit comes with several panels, gate, loading chute, and trough feeder. The fences stand about 5 inches tall and are made for farm animal figurines found at any farm and ranch store. The chute lines up with the average height for toy trailers and trucks.
“In our area there are lots of farm kids and parents can’t often find good quality farm toys that last a while,” Larry said.
Squeeze chutes, round load chutes, and other accessories can be bought to expand the set.
“Zac is designing more things all the time,” Ron said. “This time next year you’ll be able to buy anything you might find on the ranch including the trucks and trailers and whatever else Zac can think to build.”
The idea for the toys came from when Larry built Zac a set when he was little. Last year Zac thought it would be a good option for the company and began seeing if there was a market for them.
At first, they started with a few small sets to sell at regional farm and ranch shows.
“After seeing it was a positive product, we began making more,” Larry said. “A lot of our customers are ones that buy the starter kit then return to add to it.”
Making the miniature panels takes almost the same amount of time as their large counterparts because of its size. To complete each piece, metal pieces are cut out, grinded, welded, re-ground, painted, and powder coated to prevent rusting.
“We build about 20 of each part at a time but the smaller jigs and fixtures are a lot of work, more than one would think, but our equipment for other products allows us to do it,” Zac said.
Sets are in the homes of several Marion County residents, as well as Oklahoma, Texas, and Wichita. A friend, Chris Rio, handles a Facebook page to promote the toys.
Even though the toys have been a success, the best part of the business is the family aspect. Larry said it was his dreams to have his sons working with him. Zac and Dusty Koop have each been working at the business with their dad and granddad since they were old enough to see over the welding table.
Ron’s grandson Ethan Goodwin travels to Burns to work two days out of the week despite having a full time job in Emporia.
“Ethan helps us design our metal cut out products,” Ron said.
Both Zac and Dusty have plans to continue the tradition of the family business when they have families.
“They’re all key parts of the business,” Ron said. “Dusty oversees products, Larry lines up contract jobs, Zac builds the toys, and I’m retired now but I help when they need it.”
All oversee sells, works with dealers and customers to provide products, and helps each other where needed.
“It’s really two different businesses, what we build to sell ourselves, and what we build for others,” Ron said. “We all work together.”
Together they also make metal cutout art work to sell, signs, and metal trophies.