“I got to Lorain County compliments of the U.S. Marines,” quips Goode. “It’s all luck of the draw,” he says of why he settled here.
But his measurable impact on the county’s growth during the last four decades is no accident. Goode began “building” here as a citizen and businessman seriously interested in developing the county. After he was discharged from the military in 1979, he went to work for Lorain County Title Company.
His business depended on growth. “What was in the best interest for the county was in the best interest for our business,” he relates. Goode is an entrepreneur with tireless work ethic — he credits this to his father, who came from Alabama and worked two full-time jobs at Ford and Chevy and retired from General Motors after 40 years. At the title company, Goode was surely in the business of growth, but his business interests were never at the heart of why he helped initiate collaborations and served organizations including Leadership Lorain County, GLIDE, Common Ground, Workforce Institute, Team Lorain County and Lorain County Chamber of Commerce.
“This is my home,” Goode says simply. “It’s something you have to work hard at to make better. I’ve been fortunate to be in rooms with people who can make a difference, and we can bring resources to the table and have tough conversations, and we’re honest and straightforward. I just think we have an obligation to give back.”
Collaboration and a desire to “pay it forward” are natural instincts for Goode. County administrator James R. Cordes remembers developing GLIDE with Goode and the board. “Terry was able to bring everyone together to have conversations that produced great collaboration,” Cordes says, adding that Goode brought “common sense into conversations.”
Lorain County Community College (LCCC) president Dr. Roy A. Church has said that Goode is a “leader who has a unique ability to combine advocacy for positive change with compassion.”
Goode has always seen greater opportunity for Lorain County. “He provides community support on many levels,” Cordes says
A County Coming Together
Goode knows that growing jobs means growing talent. And cultivating a strong community takes time, energy and resources. He learned this early while making sales calls for Lorain County Title Company, meeting often with bankers, attorneys, realtors and anyone invested in development activity. He got involved in trade organizations and started building relationships.
Goode always made an impression when he walked into a room. At 6 feet, 6 inches tall and 280 pounds, he’s “quite a well-known fixture in Lorain County” today, Cordes points out. But in the early 1980s, he was a young, hungry entrepreneur making inroads and discovering his path in community involvement.
Goode embraced the community and his business. He and his partner purchased Lorain County Title Company in 1986, continuing a give-back philosophy. “Lorain County has always been very good to us, so we have always given back,” he says. Goode sold the company to a national concern in 2000 and today does consulting work for Old Republic National Title, carrying on those values.
“I was fortunate, because my job allowed me the opportunity to meet a lot of the community leaders in this county — people who were developing property, building houses, banks that were loaning money,” Goode says of making valuable connections and learning from mentors. “I got to know some of the great community leaders.”
A modest man by nature, Goode surely did not recognize that he was also one of those great community leaders, beginning with his early involvement in Lorain County Together in 1987, a group formed by community members focused on bringing jobs to the county. It later became the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce, and Goode served as chairman for two years.
Collaboration was the foundation of this and other county organizations to which Goode gave time and energy.
He recalls in the late 1980s when a large manufacturer was looking for a home. The Elyria and Lorain chambers worked together and began examining economic issues and strategizing ways to attract companies, employees, workforce and better educational opportunities. “Even more important was keeping existing companies,” Goode adds
This early collaboration was a productive step toward a regional effort to grow. Before, Goode talks about the 254 dividing line. “Advice was given to me when I first went to work for Lorain County Title that you could not call on any business north of 254,” he says. “If your office was in Lorain, you could not come south. It was a very divided community, everyone taking their resources and going their own way, no one dealing in a broader picture.”
That perspective has evolved dramatically following initiatives that Goode has played a hand in, including the Workforce Institute, which came together in the mid-1990s. .
“It was the first opportunity we had to bring people to the table from all sectors, public and private, for the betterment of the whole community,” Goode shares.
The Workforce Institute required selfless collaboration to launch. “It was interesting,” Goode says. “We had to sit down and ask people to give up their own funding for this new entity that no one had a complete focus on. Everyone had to give up a little, and we were very fortunate that the Nord family helped finance the first two years of the operating budget.”
Goode was the first chairman of the Workforce Institute, and joining him at the board table was LCCC’s Dr. Roy Church, Lorain National Bank’s James Kidd, Mercy Hospital’s Brian Lockwood and other significant community players. Up to 14 public entities were involved, all with the goal to help people retrain and find employment. “At the time, the program was state-of-the-art, and we were on the cutting edge in Ohio,” Goode says. “We had people from all over the state coming in to Lorain looking at what we had accomplished by the collaboration of different entities.”
True collaboration requires putting personal benefit aside and working for community betterment. True collaboration means having tough conversations and being honest. “You have to be there for the right reasons,” Goode says.
And building a community requires sustainable organizations. “You have to deal in data and not in perceptions,” Goode says. “You have to be there with no personal agenda, even to the point where you may lose money or business because you are having hard conversations.”
Goode talks about involvement in the county chamber, where builders and developers coming in from outside of the area brought confidential information to the table. “You can’t sacrifice the confidentiality of those individuals,” Goode says. “You have to have credibility at the end of the day, you have to have morals and ethics that people respect, and that is key to any successful leadership.”
Goode is known for his ability to listen, provide a balanced perspective and base decisions on data. He steps up, rolls up his sleeves and gets involved at the ground level. He also doesn’t shy away from discussions that might be uncomfortable but will result in creating a sustainable, positive effort for the county.
“One thing I never take part in is ‘parking lot agendas,’ when you leave a meeting and you have a great conversation in the room, and you walk out and have parking lot conversations that are destructive because they are not bringing everyone into the discussion,” he says. “For the most part, the organizations I’m involved in, we don’t deal in ‘parking lot issues.’ We have the conversations in the meetings. We disagree and we can have serious debates. But when we walk outside, we are all on the same team.”
Cordes says when developing GLIDE in the early 2000s, he served on the board with Goode and there were some differences in opinion on how the organization would serve the county, what it would really do and how it would be funded.
Goode recalls GLIDE when it was “a concept on the back of a napkin.” Following suit with other county organizations, he says that it was a collaboration of entities that were all willing to give up a piece to make up a better, whole county. “You can make a difference when you walk into the room and think about a bigger picture and bring more resources to the table,” he says. Today, GLIDE is a model for the state as a designated Edison Technology Incubator.
Paying It Forward
Goode never played sports in school — a surprising fact for those who meet him and figure he must have been a linebacker. And in spite of his deep involvement with the Boy Scout Heart of Ohio Council, which recognized him as a 2013 Distinguished Citizen, Goode was also never a scout.
In his family, scouting and sports were not work. “You have things to do around here,” Goode’s father told him. Extracurricular activities: “that’s for those kids.”
Goode had chores to do, and by the time he was 13 he was working his first job on weekends at an auction house. He enlisted in the U.S. Marines at age 18 and married Lois “Annie,” whom he’d met after he was sent to Elyria in the Marines. “I have the same work ethic [as my father],” Goode says. “My son Michael has it, too, and I think that’s all good.”
Michael lives in Lorain County with his wife, Laura, and their new daughter, 8-month Abby. Cordes says, “I get to see Terry on occasion with his granddaughter, and you’d be surprised at how this gentle giant can melt right there with a young baby girl.”
Goode is proud. “We are smiling ear to ear,” he says. “Trying to do as much babysitting as we can.”
Meanwhile, he’s continuing the service to Lorain County as always. In 2014, the Heart of Ohio Council of Boy Scouts named an LCCC scholarship in Goode’s honor. And in January 2015, Goode was elected chair of the LCCC Board of Trustees. He has served the board since 2006.
“The college is the true gem of the county,” Goode says. “It has been a center for collaboration and cooperation, and it has always stayed true to its mission of the four cornerstones: education, economy, culture, community.”
The ever-evolving strategic direction of the college never sways from its mission, Goode says, emphasizing, “It’s not our vision, it’s the community’s vision.” In his role, he must act as a steward.
Goode adds that supportive staff makes his and other county leaders’ jobs look easy. “One of Lorain County’s hidden resources is a huge amount of dedicated, resourceful employees, staff members and volunteers that just don’t go away,” Goode says. “They are very quiet, but they are there supporting and helping.”
Goode jokes that it’s a lot like the fastidious front desk operator of a business: Do you want to talk to the guy who owns the place, or the lady who runs it?
“The staff allows us to do this good work,” he says.
Goode says the LCCC appointment is “exciting and scary” because of the college’s firm belief in making decisions based on information and consensus. He knows that’s not easy. But he’s perfectly poised to facilitate that environment while bringing his expertise and knowledge of the community. Dr. Church acknowledges Goode’s ability to “listen, assess and explore alternatives to find solutions and opportunities.”
Goode continues to keep his community involvement widespread by serving the boards of Lorain National Bank, Workforce Investment Board, Boy Scouts Heart of Ohio and the Lorain County Community College.
His focus was, and always is, doing what’s best for Lorain County.
“I guess the current term is ‘pay it forward,’” he says. “I think I was dealing with that before I understood what the term meant. This community has been extremely generous to my success, my family’s success and the company’s success for many, many years. We have an obligation to give back — a driving force to give back.”