Integrity, work ethic, dedication, community. These are the values identified when selecting Mechanical Hub’s inaugural “Person of the Year.” Please help us in saluting Jim Godbout, Jim Godbout Plumbing & Heating, Inc. and Provencher Fuels in Biddeford, Maine for this prestigious nomination. Godbout certainly represents the industry with true professionalism and class.
But it’s not necessarily what he does in the field that makes this honor most deserving—it’s what he does outside of the office with his free time, as well, that must be commended.
Godbout has been mechanically inclined since a very young age, specifically plumbing with his grandfather. “It’s hard to believe that back in the early ’70s I used to run the melting pot for my grandfather many years ago running sewer pipe out to the ocean,” says Godbout.
Godbout’s grandfather passed away, and, at the time, Godbout worked on a variety of jobs including building homes to roofing and siding work. He did not return to the trades until he was about 17 years old. “I saw a great need for professional plumbing and heating techs at which point I made my way back into the trade.”
Plumbing with his grandfather early in life, Godbout saw need to start his own company at very young age. “Times were tough in the ’80s, where the company did everything from plumbing and heating to roofing and groundskeeping, anything to keep company alive,” says Godbout.
But persevere, he did. For more than 30 years, Godbout has run a successful plumbing and heating business in southern Maine, specializing in plumbing, HVAC, geothermal, mechanical piping, heat exchangers, solar heating, thermal imaging and fuel delivery. “We have the diversity to take care of any plumbing, heating, refrigeration and mechanical problem in-house including construction services,” says Godbout.
Community is Key
Godbout is known for his community support and he is active in youth development. He has led several youth organizations and coached local sports teams. Godbout’s dedication to community and philanthropic work stems from the fact the he grew up without having much, and learned very quickly how important it is for people to take care of people. “We are only here a very short time and what we do daily can truly change people’s lives, from the smallest gift of friendship to financially helping those in need. It helps me reduce stress from our demanding profession by really stepping back, and with a little help, I can help others be the best that they can be,” says Godbout.
One of Godbout’s focus has been combatting drug addiction in the area. The issue is personal: he’s had dozens of friends and family members dies as a result of drug overdoses. “We’re going to lose an entire generation here if we don’t start making a difference,” Godbout has said. Godbout has been an active member in the local Biddeford-Saco Rotary Club. “I am a very active Rotarian—a group that makes an impact in the lives of so many around the world—and it is a great avenue to give back to our communities.”
Within Rotary, nearly five years ago, Godbout started the Red Ribbon program, an education committee on substance abuse and helping children make healthy choices. The committee has developed educational programming about substance abuse with schools in Biddeford. “The one thing I know that works is providing unconditional love for our youth providing them with healthy choices,” Godbout has said. “Prevention and culture change for all of us regarding use of substances works. Help our youth develop good habits as they embark on becoming young adults in this very confusing world in which we live. As role models it is the most important thing we can do in our lifetime.”
Godbout has also been busy with the renovation of Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field, where he and other volunteers worked tirelessly last year to transform the football field of which the entire community can be proud.
The field, named after Alfred Waterhouse, a clerk who worked in a hardware store in the late 1920s, is unique because it is not city owned but board run. Waterhouse bought the field for local athletes by taking quarters out of his modest weekly paycheck. “His actions many years ago, I believe, is what has help motivate me to give back and mentor our youth,” says Godbout. “All we have to do is take care of each other and good things happen,” says Godbout.
Godbout has been the current president of Waterhouse Field alumni board now for more than 10 years. “The city uses field but had no capital improvement budget, so I took bull by horns and rallied up troops to use labor and financial support of community to rebuild field. The field was closed prior to this due to condemned bleachers and it just wasn’t safe for public use. A lot of pride went into that field and I was not going to let it sit vacant,” says Godbout.
The nine-month project included new bleachers, lighting, rebuilt field with AstroTurf, new storm drainage, fencing, scoreboard, sound system, press box and asphalt work.
Students never lost a year playing on the field.
Into the Future
Godbout has 12 employees in his company under age of 25; he says he has some of the most talented employees and he needs them to share their knowledge and work ethic. Industry-wide Godbout shares the same view, “I think everyone needs to mentor our youth to help guide them through next generation of mechanical contractors.”
When asked about hanging up the wrenches, Godbout says he has no plans to slow down. In fact, the company just moved into a larger space, which positions the them to be a more sustainable company. In addition, Godbout recently acquired Provencher Fuels. When the previous owner—with whom Godbout had worked for more than 30 years—became ill, Godbout purchased it from the family “to keep small company values for our customers.”
In addition, he’s too busy with his new project. Godbout is remodeling a historic church into a cultural community center for My Place Teen center in Biddeford. He will be building a commercial kitchen to help teach culinary arts and feed hundreds of kids aged 10-18 daily.
“I just don’t have that picture of retiring unless, of course, my health would fail. I do love to golf and be on the water so maybe I’ll try and spend a little more time doing those things,” says Godbout.