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J. D. Gould Company, Inc.
4707 Massachusetts Avenue
P.O. Box 18128
Indianapolis, IN 46218–0128

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Our heritage harkens back to the post Depression Days of the mid-1930s. My
grandfather, John D. Gould emerged from the depression with four things: his
beloved wife; his cherished son, John D. Gould, Jr.; his home; and his Canadian
island. He also came out of the Depression with a fascination for manufacturing – not
the Stock Market which he played heavily during the Roaring Twenties.
His first “dabble” into manufacturing was an attempt at applying the process of
anodizing aluminum to industrial applications. It took less than a year for him to
figure out that that was a bad idea. However, during this venture he was exposed to
something called a solenoid valve which was used in the quenching stage of
anodizing. The entrepeneur in him visualized broad uses for these electrically
operated valves.
My grandfather contacted an inventive fellow he knew named Bat Hauisien and
said that he would like to develop a variation on the common solenoid valve and
start making them. My grandfather also knew he would need some financial
backing to get started, so he met with his neighbor, Elias C. Atkins to discuss his
venture idea. Mr. Atkins’ company manufactured saws. Mr. Atkins offered to finance
the initial inventory to produce solenoid valves and rent out part of the Atkins Saw
Company plant to my grandfather for valve production. In exchange, Mr. Atkins
would be a 51% owner to my grandfather’s 49%. Thus, Atkomatic Valve company
was founded in 1936 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Atkomatic Valves were primarily
designed for commercial and industrial applications involving hydraulics. The valves
would handle up to 3,000 psi.
From 1936 through 1948, my grandfather was President of Atkomatic Valve
Company. In 1949, Mr. Atkins was approached by Mr. Edward J. Bennett. Mr.
Bennett made Mr. Atkins an offer for Atkomatic Valve Company which Mr. Atkins
could not refuse. Then, Mr. Bennett approached my grandfather and said that he
would like my grandfather and father to continue with Atkomatic Valve Company
under the new ownership. However, instead of making 50% of the gross, my
grandfather would now get 50% of the NET.
Well, my father, John D. Gould, Jr., had only been at Atkomatic for two years and
had a brand new baby in the house – ME. My grandfather thought long and hard
about Mr. Bennett’s offer (maybe 5 minutes) and told him to Go To Hell. Mr. Bennett
reminded my grandfather of the 2-Year Non-Compete clause in his contract and the
two gentlemen parted ways.
In May of 1951 the partnership between father and son was founded as J. D. Gould
Company. Their first hire was the Chief Engineer, an inventive Pearl Harbor survivor
named Bill Russell. Bill had been working as a draftsman at Hoffman Steam Specialty
in Indianapolis. Bill’s brother and brother-in-law were the next two hires. Now J. D.
Gould Company was ready for production.
Prototype in hand, my grandparents drove to Rochester, NY. While at Atkomatic, my
grandfather remembered having his hat handed to him by one of the meanest, most
critical customers he had ever known. The guy told him, “Get that junk out of my
office and don’t come back until you really have something to show me.” Well he
thought he “really had something to show him.” However, he knew he was going to
see one of the meanest SOB’s he had ever met with basically an unproven
commodity. He told my grandmother, “Wait here, this will only take a couple of
minutes before he throws me out on my keester!” Two hours later, my grandfather
emerged with a $10,000 order. Production could now begin in earnest.
The 1950′s and 1960′s brought the many trials and tribulations of a start up.
Incidentally, J. D. Gould Company joined the Fluid Controls Institute in 1963. One
thing that had held true at both Atkomatic and J. D. Gould Company was the fact
that there are broad uses for solenoid valves. The valves could be used on air
filtration systems, gasoline dispensing pumps, automotive assembly line lifts, on safety
spray down systems in mines, commerical dishwashers and laundry equipment, just to
name a few. I’m sure everyone here has seen a solenoid valve in operation,
probably in conjunction with your products and hopefully its a Gould Solenoid Valve.
The next extremely significant year in our company’s history was 1971. I joined the
business on June 14th of that year after a week’s vacation from college. As much as
my grandfather wanted me in the business, my father DID NOT. According to my
father (who graduated from Princeton with a History degree), “what was an English
Major from Wabash College going to contribute to his company?” I could see the
potential for friction and I proposed that, “if after six months, either I don’t like working
in the company, or one or more people in the company don’t think I fit, then I would
resign.” That was almost forty years ago.
During the 1970′s we made two important decisions: we incorporated in 1976; and
shortly after incorporating, we did away with exclusive territories much to the chagrin
of the the manufacturers’ representatives who were mostly sitting on their butts and
collecting commission. I demonstrated to top management that our valves were
used in three distinct segments of our industry: plumbing, process and
instrumentation. Let’s say a manufacturer’s rep calls on customers who want to
monitor their processes. The rep wants to build a panel for monitoring and he wants
to sell all of the components used in the process, too. Obviously, that rep’s
concentration is on the process industry and he is not calling on 2/3 of our market.
The early ’80s brought our first 2 loss years. Our marketing emphasis was now through
a nationwide distributor network and some OEMs. Our main thrust in the late ’80s was
production automation. We needed more control and flexibility in our machine
shop. In the past, the foundries for our bronze and stainless steel parts were
machined at the foundry. This was always a huge bottleneck. Typically, lead times
for castings were 16-18 weeks. By machining the castings in-house we could cut that
time almost in half. This situation was exacerbated by having a shipment from Grand
Haven Foundry come in with pipe threads 5 degrees off. In 1988, we got our first
CNC machine, an Okuma Vertical Machining Center. We designed a trunion and
hooked up an indexer and then hooked a stronger indexer and then hooked up the
right indexer and began machining all of our castings in-house.
Unfortunately, a four-year span from 1987 to 1991 saw the demise of our founders.
My grandfather’s last day at work was his 90th birthday on July 11, 1984 and he died
on January 17, 1987. In August of 1989, my father was diagnosed with cancer and
fought the good fight until March 31, 1991. He was only 68. I took over as President
on October 1, 1989.
During the 1990s, my emphasis was on sales. Believe it or not, an outside sales
manager was hired for the first time. We encouaged distributors to keep an ample
stock of valves and to have a well-educated sales force on the many uses of
solenoid valves. My wife, Susie, helped implement a factory school for training sales
people. Also, at the end of the 90′s we got our first ISO 9001 certification. Part of the
ISO process was developing our Quality Policy which is:
J. D. Gould Company, Inc. is committed to continuous improvement, producing
quality products by a capable workforce using proven vendors to satisfy our
customers’ needs.
And now to the current decade. Like many companies, we have significantly
reduced the size of our workforce. What with “Just-In-Time” inventory controls and
overnight delivery service being commonplace, there has been a gradual deemphasis
of stocking valves, servicing valves in the field and general “cold-calling”
on users (no one has time to see you). These were normal distributor activities which
have gone by the wayside with greater use of the internet and the number of “ordertaking”
jobbers which seemed to have sprouted from the roll-ups of the 90′s
(Fergusons, Hughes, Motion Industries, etc.). To counter all of that, we have
increased our prescence on the internet and we are granting minimal resale
discounts to “order takers” masquerading as distributors.
Throughout our existence, we have had such venerable competitors as ASCO Valve,
Skinner Valve (now Parker-Hannifin), Burkert, Magnatrol, etc. How do we stay
competitive with them? The short answer is flexibility. In the time it takes them to
form a committee, we’ve got the problem solved. To maintain our competitve
advantage, we better:
1. Sell a Quality Product and make sure it can be shipped
2. Have Super Order Turns – Currently averages a day and a half
3. Create Niches – How many companies make a 2″ 316 Stainless Steel SV?
What does the future hold for J. D. Gould Company? As a small business, the
company can react quickly to change. We have weathered the 2007-2009 storm
and have our heads above water. Gould Solenoid Valves are rugged, dependable
and durable. This is not an accident. Our products reflect our business. Every
successful business has a foundation of intangibles. The backbone of our business is
that you cannot teach people, inherit from family or expect:
My company is here today because there are some of these traits in each of our
employees, customers, suppliers, and, yes indeed, even our competitors.