DAYTONA BEACH — Austin Cyril “Bud” Goodier had no experience when he started working as an air conditioning technician in the late 1950s, but he proved a quick learner. After only a year, he started his own business in early 1959.
Goodier died March 5 at his home in Port Orange, aged 86, but his Holly Hill business, AC Goodier Air Conditioning, lives on.
His iconic cucumber logo will soon bear an image of his face, daughters Caroline Busto and Cindy Tanner have said.
“Coolie is going to have dad’s face,” Busto said, referencing the cartoon cucumber character Goodier created to be part of his company logo. “Somebody said the phrase ‘cool as a cucumber’ to him and he liked it,” she recalled when Coolie the Cucumber was born.
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“Bud (Goodier) was probably one of the last of his generation to get into the air conditioning business in the 1950s and 1960s and start their own business,” said Chris Koontz, president of Koontz Heating & Air- Packaging at Holly Hill. Koontz’s business was started in 1967 by his father, the late Jerry Koontz.
Seeing the need for air conditioning services as Volusia County’s population continued to grow, the Daytona Beach area by the late 1960s had become home to nearly a dozen, if not more, independent air conditioning companies, Koontz said.
Other longtime local air conditioning business owners who have died in the past 10 years include Don Meyer of DG Meyer Inc., Tom McGuire Sr. of Flair Air Conditioning, and Harold VanBrocken of Von-Aire.
Bob Davis, president and CEO of the Lodging & Hospitality Association for Volusia County, said AC Goodier serviced the beachfront Hawaiian Inn when he moved here from upstate New York in 1966 to take over as general manager of the hotel.
“Bud Goodier was a personal friend of mine,” said Davis, who continued to meet for coffee with Goodier at Denny’s in Port Orange over the decades. “He would order sausages to bring back to his wife Janet,” he recalls. “He was my air conditioning specialist. He was a wonderful human being and a wonderful dancer.”
Started as a self-taught A/C technician
Goodier was born in Brooklyn and first came down to Daytona Beach in 1952 with his father, a recently widowed retired banker at the time. “They were living on a broken down boat in the Halifax River boating basin,” said her eldest daughter, Cindy Tanner, 64.
After a stint in the U.S. Army, Bud Goodier married and returned to Daytona Beach with his wife and their then 6-month-old baby in December 1957. Goodier immediately took a job as an air conditioning technician even though he had no prior training.
“My dad said he didn’t know anything about air conditioning and learned everything he needed to know,” Tanner said.
Goodier started by servicing commercial businesses, including area hotels as well as restaurants. One of the local business owners he befriended was NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who built Daytona International Speedway in the late 1950s.
“One of my dad’s big regrets was turning down Bill France when he asked him to become an investor in the Speedway,” Busto said. With a young family to support, “he was afraid to take the bet”.
In addition to serving daytime air-conditioning customers, Goodier also briefly operated a side business in the 1960s: a bar at the Streamline Hotel, the birthplace of NASCAR. The bar was called The Twilight Zone.
Goodier returned to focusing full-time on his air conditioning business as it grew. It eventually expanded to include service to residential customers.
Busto recalls growing up, “All I had to do was say my last name was Goodier and people would ask me, ‘Are you Bud Goodier’s daughter?'”
Located in Holly Hill since the 1980s
After starting out on Ballough Road, AC Goodier moved to its current address at 221 State Ave. in Holly Hill in the 1980s.
Ben Cubbedge Sr. started working for AC Goodier at the age of 19, shortly after the company moved to Holly Hill. Today, Cubbedge, 55, is the department head. His son, Ben Jr., 37, is a senior installer who also started working for Goodier right out of high school.
Goodier continued to work until a few weeks before his death. He survived a battle with cancer 15 years earlier and was determined to beat it again when he learned he had returned a few months ago, his daughters said.
“He had a very strong will. There was no way to say no to him,” Busto said. “He was 86, but his spirit was like that of a much younger person. He fought until his last breath.”
Goodier also maintained his ritual of starting each day with coffee at Denny’s restaurant on Dunlawton Avenue in Port Orange. He took his dog Asia with him on weekends.
Peggy Williams has been a waitress at Port Orange Denny’s since it opened in June 1989. Goodier was a regular from day one, she said. “He usually came around 6:00 p.m., 6:30 p.m. He sometimes came for lunch too, sometimes with his wife, Janet. He always sat at the counter and always had a funny story to tell.
“All the girls here loved him,” Williams said. “He was just a wonderful man. It’s a great loss in our lives. He was like an adoptive father to me.”
Tanner said his father believed that “if you stop moving, your life is over. He had no interest in retiring. He loved his business and he loved his employees and his customers. This was his life. “
Goodier also enjoyed flying, boating, and raising and selling horses.
Cubbedge and his son will take over the day-to-day operations of the business, which will continue to be owned by Goodier’s daughters. Tanner works as an operating room nurse at Halifax Health while Busto works as a para-professional at Spruce Creek High School where her mother was a longtime employee.
Goodier is survived by his wife Janet, his daughters, his son-in-law Juan Busto, three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
The public is invited to a celebration of Goodier’s life to be held April 6, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the Countryside Clubhouse at 951 Village Trail in Port Orange. Goodier’s family requests that donations in their name be made to the Halifax Humane Society.