Northwoods is a software solutions provider with a mission of revolutionizing the delivery of services to vulnerable populations. We make solutions that improve the quality of the lives of case managers and social workers in the Human Services field.
Gary Heinze, President and Chief Executive Officer, answered a few questions about Northwoods for our Member Spotlight.
Tell us about your company’s mission and values.
Mission: We create revolutionary technology solutions and deliver unparalleled consultation to improve the lives of Human Services professionals and the people they serve.
Vision: To be globally recognized as the pioneer in the transformation of human services delivery.
Core Values: Honesty: We do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
Excellence: We are committed to be the best in all we do.
Accountability: When we make a mistake: we admit it; we correct it; and we learn from it.
Results-driven: We produce outcomes that make a difference.
Teamwork: We are better together.
What are the services you use the most (or are looking forward to using) from the Columbus Chamber?
We’re a small company, but we have a mighty big mission! We are looking forward to working with Columbus Chamber to help convey our mission, improve our brand recognition, and improve our visibility within the community. We are a great company with a passionate mission and want others to know about us, too. Northwoods is also very excited to build relationships with other amazing businesses in Columbus and become part of the Columbus Chamber community.
How do you stay engaged with trends that you see in your industry?
We attend conferences that target our market and customers. We also attend conferences that focus on technology that we believe can help to make an impact with our customers.
We read journals and stay up-to-date on the latest issues that impact the people and communities in which we serve.
We subscribe to consultants who provide direct one-on-one consultation within our government and technology space.
Our top priority is continuous and open communication with our customers. We want to know what trends they’re watching, so that their priorities become our priorities. We ask for feedback regularly to make sure we are addressing their needs to the best of our abilities.
What do you think differentiates you from your competitors?
A precise understanding of our customers’ challenges and needs. We talk a lot about “falling in love with our customers’ problems,” so we can create the right solution for each one. That’s not something you see with most software solutions providers who simply have a one-size-fits-all solution. We have field experts with experience working in the human services industry. They work closely with our customers to understand their challenges and areas for improvement so we can determine the best solution that will help to make the work they do much easier.
We have a desire to always do better, relative to delivering to our customers. Our people are our strongest asset- they are intelligent, qualified and motivated to make a difference. Northwoods has a deep dedication to our mission of making a difference. We work hard to help social workers and case managers spend less time doing paperwork, so more time is being spent where it counts- with the families they serve.
What is your company culture like?
At Northwoods, we have a work hard, play hard mentality. We bust our butts to deliver the best possible experience for our customers, but we have fun doing it. It’s not uncommon to see a group of Northwoodians having a beer on the patio while they finish up their work for the day, or for our support team to take a break from their desks for a friendly game of cards or Xbox.
And at our core, we are a company full of highly intelligent people, driven to do great and innovative work that makes a difference in the world. Our people care deeply about the work we do and about each other. This common drive and these shared values create an invigorating and joyful atmosphere that makes it a pleasure to come to work each and every day.
We also strongly believe in giving back to the communities in which we support. Northwoods provides every employee 20 hours each year to spend time volunteering for a cause of their choice. We also believe in coming together as a team to volunteer and have helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity, have traveled to assist with disaster relief, and collected toys and volunteered at the Salvation Army during the holidays. We also have a foundation that is supported by all of Northwoods through regular donations, hosted events to raise money, and each month a contribution is made to help a person, family, or community in need. Our most recent foundation donation went to West Virginia after they experienced severe flooding. West Virginia is a home to many of our customers and through the foundation we were able to get several families back on their feet after enduring such a tragedy. Through our Northwoods Foundation and encouragement of volunteer work, we strongly believe in giving back to the communities in which we support.
Northwoods is a family and we care and support each other in whatever ways we can. Northwoods has a passion for the cause and doing whatever we can to make a difference.
What advice would you have appreciated hearing when first starting your career?
Invest in people. This is something that I wasn’t aware of early on and what I have grown to learn over time. I started off in the beginning as a “techy” and I understood the value of technology and appreciated the value of what it could do for the community. I focused on the mechanics of the business and getting the job done, but I was less focused on the importance of devoting time to building strong relationships with the people I work with and investing in growing people. It didn’t take us long to realize the importance of this and make it a top priority within our company. I truly believe that our people are our strongest asset here at Northwoods.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
It took a while to get there. I’ll admit I didn’t have a good work/life balance early on when the company was just a handful of people. As we became more successful and grew as an organization, I was able to hire experienced, intelligent, and self-determining individuals that could manage the different aspects/areas of the business, which allowed me to find more balance in my life. I achieved this by entrusting the right people to ensure the business operations were still running smoothly. With my confidence in my team, I can invest in other important things in my life like spending time with family, riding my bike, and volunteering.
Because work/life balance is important to me, I encourage my employees to take time off when needed and promote the importance of having balance in your life. We have no policy about PTO except to communicate with your team and manager and to be accountable for your work. This helps promote balance with our staff, and we trust our people to have the autonomy to spend their time the best way they can for both themselves and the company. I wouldn’t consider Northwoods a successful company if our success was only reflected in our growth and financials, but our employees were working to exhaustion to get there.
What business leader do you admire the most and why?
Someone I know personally – Clayton Mathile, former CEO and owner of Iams dog food. I admire him because he understood making the right investment in training and his people, ran his business with honesty and integrity, and was quite successful by doing that. He later started a company called Aileron, a non-profit organization in Dayton, Ohio that provides coaching for business owners. He was always the guy who focused on giving back, which is important to me to do with Northwoods.
Where is your favorite place to have a meeting outside of the office?
On my pontoon boat on Alum creek.
Why do you think Columbus is a great place to do business?
Columbus is a great city to do business, live, and grow a family. Columbus is filled with top-notch businesses and great schools that deliver top talent. Columbus is innovative and forward thinking, and so are we! It is nice to be in a city that has so many shared values as Northwoods.
Gary Heinze, President & CEO, Northwoods
As president and CEO of Northwoods, Gary leads more than 120 employees in providing software and service solutions specifically designed for human services agencies. He provides strategic direction to ensure Northwoods achieves its vision to be globally recognized as the pioneer in the transformation of human services delivery. His responsibilities include strategic guidance, tactical implementation, and executive team leadership.
Gary is an accomplished executive with 20 years of experience working with document management systems. He has piloted Northwoods to a substantial and sustained period of growth since joining the company as president in 2003. He was named president and CEO of Northwoods in 2010. His specialties include business development, employee development, and innovative leadership. Prior to Northwoods, Gary worked for 12 years at Assured Micro-Services, Inc. His most recent role was senior account sales associate.
Gary attended The Ohio State University.
Most software for social services agencies is focused on only one thing: capturing state-required data. At Northwoods, our human services software solutions are designed for the directors and caseworkers who use the data, not for the data itself. By giving caseworkers agency-wide immediate access to case and client information how, when and where they need it, we’re changing the way caseworkers at state and county health and human service agencies work.
Twitter: @TeamNorthwoods – Northwoods Official Twitter Page
@JoinNorthwoods – Northwoods Recruiting Twitter Page