Goodway Group celebrates 90 years, and though our business has dramatically changed and evolved over the past nine decades, one element has stayed consistent: We’re groundbreakers. We have and always will offer the most innovative, cutting-edge marketing solutions, technology, expertise and service available no matter the time period. In honor of Goodway’s milestone ninetieth anniversary, our CEO Dave Wolk gives a behind-the-scenes look at his family business – the personalities, lessons and events that have shaped Goodway’s history and made it into the successful global digital advertising partner it is today.
GOODWAY GROUP CELEBRATES 90: WHAT LIFE LESSONS DID YOUR GRANDFATHER, DAD AND UNCLE TEACH YOU?
Treat Everyone Like Family
Everything in my grandfather’s life was about family more than the business. He taught me to love and take care of family and always impressed upon me that there wasn’t much difference between blood family and work family. My uncle always treated his managers and banking partners like family too, taking them on fishing trips or inviting them to his home. He built amazing friendships, and that always impressed me.
Be Creative. Think Big. Think Out of the Box.
My dad was a dynamo and creative wonder, so fearless about chasing his dreams. Marketing was his hobby and his life. He loved marketing and advertising more than anyone I know. His charisma, his enthusiasm permeated any room, and his 24/7 attention to business became one of Goodway’s competitive advantages. Both my dad and uncle dared me to be great and gave me the confidence to pursue opportunities well beyond the scope of what I could ever imagine. They taught me to always think big (conquer the universe, not just the world), brainstorm and go for the outrageous promotion or the biggest opportunity.
Work Hard, Play Hard
My uncle was a pipe-smoking financial and operational wizard. He was a fierce negotiator and taught me what a good, healthy business does to be successful. I learned a lot from him when I was young, and he always guided me in the right direction. In fact, I still learn from him today when we catch up about business. He was also my fun uncle. He had great hobbies (fishing, skiing, boating, racing, flying, horseback riding, hunting, golfing, the list goes on and on) and loved adventure. I am grateful he took me along for the ride.
GOODWAY GROUP CELEBRATES 90: WHAT ARE YOUR BEST MEMORIES OF WORKING WITH YOUR FAMILY?
Poetry in Motion
Every trip with my dad to a major brand and new city was an adventure for me. We covered many cities and clients, and I looked forward to each trip and the chance to get out of the office. Seeing my dad pitch a room was like poetry in motion. We would get an audience with a Fortune 500 CMO and close the deal, often on the first trip, my dad pitching and then me implementing the plans. That was such a thrill for me. One time, we went to a General Electric (GE) meeting with their field team, and after my dad’s pitch, everyone lined up around the room to sign up for our program.
Some of my best memories with my dad and uncle were taking print customers out fishing every Saturday in the summer in south Jersey. I was young and had the job of being first mate. Every trip, I would bet my cousin who would get seasick first. Our job was to clean up the deck and care for those who got sick. When you get seasick, it’s like having the flu. So many of our guests would suffer with seasickness, but the minute we got back to the dock, they were ready to go on another weekend trip. That was the lure of a good fishing trip in the Atlantic.
Santa’s Unexpected Arrival
When I was very young, my dad always thought big and used to throw a Christmas party each year for the Goodway employees and families at our Philadelphia plant. His idea of big was having Santa Claus land his helicopter on the front lawn of the plant and then hand out toys. Everyone didn’t know what to be more excited about, seeing a helicopter up close or getting goodies.
GOODWAY GROUP CELEBRATES 90: WHEN YOUR GRANDFATHER TALKED ABOUT HIS LIFE, WHAT WAS HE MOST PROUD OF?
Shock and Awe
My grandfather recognized my dad’s and uncle’s intense entrepreneurial spirits and helped them chase their business dreams. He was very proud of how they grew the business so rapidly when they came aboard. Unfortunately, I never got to work with my grandfather since he retired long before I started working. But I remember when I landed my first million-dollar print promotion and told him about it. He was very proud and amazed. He was used to selling smaller contracts, and this million-dollar deal really shocked him. As Goodway Group celebrates 90 years, I know he would be in total awe of what we have accomplished today with our complete transformation from print to digital advertising.
GOODWAY GROUP CELEBRATES 90: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE GOODWAY STORIES?
A Blizzard to Remember
When I first started working, we often went to Detroit to sell the Big Three. My dad always rented big luxury cars like Lincoln Continentals. One time, we landed in a blizzard and somehow made it to Chrysler headquarters in Highland Park. We skidded on 75, and I thought we were going to get mangled. My dad kept saying, “Keep driving; keep going.” When we got there, only a few cars were in the lot, even though Detroit clients were used to snowy conditions. As luck would have it, the Dodge CMO made it in, and with so few people in the building, we got to meet with him. He couldn’t believe we had made it in from Philadelphia when employees did not make it in from local towns. We had a great meeting, which led to our biggest multi-million-dollar print promotion job in our history to launch the Dodge Caravan.
NOT a Drill
We often had fire drills at our headquarters, and everyone would vacate except for my dad and me. One day, unbeknownst to us, one of those drills could have turned deadly due to a gas leak, which I smelled. I pushed my dad to leave the office, but he wouldn’t do it. Then five fully suited firemen came in and escorted my dad out. That’s what it took to take him from his work. Needless to say, no one could accuse him of not having a solid work ethic.
Goodway Vs. the Fire
We hit a low point in the 1940s when a fire leveled one of our printing plants. My dad, uncle and grandfather drove up to the plant in the middle of the winter, and the fire hose streams froze up. It was traumatic and almost put us out of business. Fortunately, they did wind up salvaging the printing equipment, which was great news since during the war, you couldn’t get parts. We were lucky enough to reopen by a publisher who gave us a variety of business that helped us expand our client base.
GOODWAY GROUP CELEBRATES 90: WILL YOU GIVE US A GOODWAY MUSEUM TOUR?
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GOODWAY GROUP CELEBRATES 90: WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR GOODWAY IN THE FUTURE?
I want every Goodway employee to have a good work-life balance – to have time for their family life and other passions – and to always be challenged to learn new skills, build their brands and rise in the company to do whatever they desire. As Goodway continues to grow, I want our team to still feel like family, caring for one another, no matter how large, how global we get. I want Goodway’s essence to flicker on in everyone who picks up the drumbeat of my family’s long-ago dream, in everyone who continues to stoke it and carry it forward into a future of Goodway milestones that today are still beyond our wildest imaginings. And in that future, no matter the year – 2029, 2049, 2069 and beyond – I want us to be there ready: ready with our sleeves rolled up, ready to transform and innovate at the forefront of our industry, ready to dig in and break new ground.