Steel Products

Final Thoughts - Earl Goode

Written by John Packard

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, one of the most important people in the development of my career in the steel industry and in my personal life passed away—Earl Goode.

Earl the Pearl.

I met Earl Goode for the first time 38 years ago in Marietta, Ga. It was a beautiful spring day in May 1982.

Our story is a bit unique as we originally were hired to compete against one another as new salesmen at Pacesetter Steel Service, Inc. Earl was friends with Tom Penzone who at the time was the sales manager for most of the sales team. I, on the other hand, was an acquaintance of Mike Rush who was the top salesperson at Pacesetter. Tom Penzone and Mike Rush were in a tussle to see who would ultimately control sales at Pacesetter.

Earl GoodeI did not know I was hired to compete against Earl. Fate threw a curveball into their plan as Earl and I happened to move into the same apartment complex. We were both single and enjoyed everything Atlanta had to offer. Those were the days when we could burn both ends of the candle and still make it to work the next day. Earl was superhuman as he was 13 years older than me, and nothing seemed to slow him down.

I was at Pacesetter for a short time when Tom Penzone called me into his office and told me he could see I was struggling trying to understand how to sell this prime steel (I came out of the secondary business). He told me I had 30 days to figure it out or I would be unemployed….

My savior was Earl Goode. We made a deal, and every night after work we got together and I taught him what I knew about the steel industry, while he taught me how to sell.

Earl came from the entertainment industry and he was a salesman’s salesman. As I sit here, I can’t think of another person in the steel industry I would call a salesman’s salesman. Earl was special. It is a rarity to be around someone like Earl where the strength of his personality, his charm and his ability to understand where a conversation needed to go truly amazed me.

Earl taught me how to live with being uncomfortable, dealing with the fear of the unknown, and learning how to channel my energy into a positive force. He taught me how to be confident in my own skills, to utilize the talents that I have and to be creative. He taught me that it’s the little things that go a long way.

Those of you who know Earl understand that this was a man who remembered every joke ever told. For Earl, life was meant to be fun. He wanted to love and to laugh. Those around him could not help but love and laugh along with him.

We practiced “salesmanship” at the night clubs in Buckhead. He took me to my first pro football game. He got me into playing tennis. He was with me when I met Diana. He stood next to me at my wedding. He was my dear friend and he will be sorely missed.

I have hundreds of stories about Earl. They all seem to be adventure stories from golf outings, with customers at the top of a mountain in Jamaica, business trips to Las Vegas (“Show me the MONEY!”), ALTA tennis matches, or hanging with the sons he was so proud of. Earl was a great cook and made the best salad dressing (and darn he would never give me the recipe).

I also recall fondly, after he and Jane retired to Florida, the occasional dinner with a fine bottle of wine. It was in Sarasota where Earl laid down his head for the last time.

Earl Goode was born in Cape May, N.J., on Nov. 11, 1938. He is survived by his wife of 25 years Jane Goode, and his three sons: Jeff, Mark and Chris.

I understand there will be a celebration of Earl’s life at his and Jane’s favorite restaurant, Chicago’s in Marietta, Ga. At the time of this writing I do not yet have details, but I promise to pass them along as soon as they become available, along with any last wishes Earl wanted to share with his steel community friends.

David Thorburn who worked with us at Pacesetter in the “early years” described Earl’s passing best today when he called it “the end of an era.”

Rest in peace my friend.

John Packard, President & CEO, Steel Market Update

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