John Godman, owner and president of Advanced Turbine Services LLC on High Street in Meriden, checks on the equipment used to test fuel valves that his company repairs for the U.S. Navy. (Photos by Chris French / Record-Journal)
MERIDEN - The whirring of the turbine in a nearby box is deafening, but necessary to read the pressure gauges on the engine parts.John Godman
is testing a fuel valve limiter for use by the U.S. Navy
on the engines used to power its Landing Craft Air Cushion.
According to the U.S. Navy
, the Landing Craft Air Cushion is a high-speed, over-the-beach fully amphibious landing craft, capable of carrying a 60-75 ton payload.It is used to transport the weapons systems, equipment, cargo and personnel of the assault elements of the Marine Air Ground Task Force
from ship to shore across the beach.
But to Godman
, it delivers much more.
As one of the only small businesses licensed to repair the gas turbines engines and engine systems that power the LCAC, Godman
is pleased that the Navy is so happy with them.
AD (_middle)Godman is the owner of Advanced Turbine Services LLC, a repair shop and parts warehouse for the engines and their systems.
The Meriden resident, services a variety of commercial clients, but so far the Navy is the most lucrative.His
company is one of a few that has developed and produced a powered energy system to test TF40 engines.Some of the fastest efficient ships in use today, including ferries, yachts and swath vessels, are TF40 powered, he
about to get more business and expand into other engine lines.Godman
has been at the 34 High St. plant since opening his
business in 1995.He
had been seeking a larger home for four years.A broker finally let him know that 137 South Colony St. was available and eligible for Enterprise Zone tax benefits.City officials call it an underperforming piece of property.Godman
says that's an understatement.
"It's the ugliest building downtown," Godman
Indeed.The former home of the Connecticut Valley Brewing Corp.
and more recently, a welding company, has turned into a crumbling home for tree roots and the area homeless.He
paid $121,000 for the building and the acre it sits on.Godman
has a vision of a restored work area and has already begun clearing much of the brush in the area.He
also plans to make interior and exterior improvements, roof repair, trash removal and landscaping, said Trudy Magnolia, Economic Development Assistant.The brick walls are more than a foot thick.
The Economic Development office has worked extensively with Godman
linking him with the 50,000 square-foot building and helping him make the necessary application for the tax benefits.
According to Magnolia, because Godman
is expanding and plans to hire about 15 new employees over the next few years, he'll be eligible for a five-year, 80 percent abatement on new real and personal property.
is in no rush.
"I got time," he
, who rides a Harley and golfs everyday he
can, believes in setting milestones to create goals.Buying the building was a goal that took about six months longer than expected to close on.Now he
can clear the lot so that architect Dana Warren of Middlefield can make the drawings and submit a site plan to the city for approval.
Contracting with the Navy means maintaining certain specifications - a fenced-in yard, for instance, and the insurance costs have quadrupled.But Godman
can only work for one person - himself - and he
wanted to stay in the city.
"My family grew up here," Godman
training as a child growing up in Pottstown, Pa., next to a steel town named Phoenixville.He
always loved tinkering with engines.
"My mother bought more lawnmowers than I can remember," he
After graduating high school in 1972, he
went to work in the steel mill for four years until, like many others in Pennsylvania, it closed.
"Phoenixville was a one-horse town and they shot the horse," Godman
Now out of a job and without a trade, he
rejected the federal job training programs available for displaced workers because he
wasn't happy with the trade selection.He
wanted to repair aircraft.He applied for student loans and was accepted at the University of Tulsa, where he received a two-year degree in aviation repair.
After graduation, he
was recruited as a line mechanic for Pan Am
and TWA airlines, but turned down those offers.
Lycoming in Stratford was developing engines for large clients such as Honeywell
, and hired Godman
as a test engineer.He
commuted from his
Meriden home every day from 1980 to 1990 and made his
first contact with the Navy by training its employees in engine repair.
That led to consulting work, and eventually a full-time repair and inventory business.Godman
is now one of several Navy contractors involved in the Navy's cost-saving equipment maintenance program, that routinely services vessels to prolong their useful life.His
new building will provide the needed storage to stock and record the parts as he
repairs them and the full inventory is available to customers via his
Web site.There's also an overhead pulley for the engines, which are about the size of an office desk.
It's a big jump, but one Godman looks forward to and is glad he
could stay in the city.He
proves that through his
volunteer coaching for Ed Walsh Little League and YMCA youth soccer and other community activities.City Economic Development Director Peggy Brennan said Godman is an example of what can happen downtown when the city works to keep its businesses here
is a very interesting guy - one of the most naturally positive people I have met since I've been in Meriden," Brennan said.