The first time I had access to the backend of a website was when I was working at Grand Valley State University. I guess that's how it all started for me. The code on GVSU's site was broken, and the guy who wrote the code left. I told everyone I could fix it, even though I'd never done anything like that before. I figured it out. I fixed it. That experience made me realize that helping people with technology is something I like doing.
After GVSU, I worked for big companies and small companies, and I learned some things. People are the strongest asset, not the products. When I started BizStream, I wanted to get together a group of the right people. A team that would do a great job of making clients happy.
Our motto of whatever it takes starts at the top and goes all the way through the organization. And, we mean whatever it takes for our team, our clients, our community, anything we touch, really.
With a background in intranets, I knew having a central location for organizations to access all kinds of company data is pretty smart. That's why we created the BizStream portal. We found our niche in case and court management. Clients don't need the hassle or expense of maintaining expensive systems. That's how BizStream really got off the ground. Website development came later.
At BizStream, we've really worked hard at creating a certain kind of culture because it's key to the keeping the team happy and to keeping clients happy. We keep it solid. We have a good, fun, open environment. It might be cliché, but it's true — we work hard and we play hard.
I've found that if you're going to provide good, decent services, you have to value people. I think I have a good ability to put myself in other people’s shoes, and I'm not sure everyone can do that. At BizStream, we don’t look at just a project, we look at the people, the client. And, you have to communicate. If you don't inform and talk to people, solving problems becomes harder, outcomes aren't as good. Good communication is essential to good relationships. BizStream could be a landscaping company, and it would still be all about the people.
The reason BizStream’s culture is the way it is, is because from the very beginning, I didn't want to work at a typical job. That doesn’t mean I didn't want to work ridiculously hard. I just realized early on that the majority of our lives are spent at work. So why make it something you have to do to? Let's make it something we want to do.
This mindset applies to our clients, too. Why work with a typical software vendor because you have to? You know, a vendor that has terrible support, strict billing, or bad communication. We've all heard the horror stories of dealing with software customer support. I wanted to make a business where clients really enjoy working with us, and where they enjoy calling support (yes, it is possible).
In addition to programming and handling things at BizStream, I sit on the advisory board for Baker College’s computer sciences department. It's really cool because I'm get to advise the college on what technology students really need to learn. I also sit on the board for Juvenile Justice Vision 20/20, which is working to re-vamp juvenile data for the state of Michigan.
When I'm not working, I'm hanging out with my wife and three daughters. We dig science museums. Even when I'm not at work, I'm programming, playing with micro controllers, mixing software with hardware. I really like playing with smart things. I've done a lot of home automation, and I'm doing it at the office, now, too. I keep pretty busy being the Allendale wrestling coach. I work out, and keep the BizStream team motivated to be healthy, too.
Work is such a big part of most everyone's lives. You spend the majority of your time at work. For me, BizStream is a way of life. My wife works here, and my kids are in and out of the office. I love it when we have visitors. Anyone who wants to come out here, crack open their lap tops and learn about and web and software development, and take in the culture is totally welcome.
There's this one quote from Confucius that sums up how I feel about BizStream: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That's where it's at for me. Not only do I want to have a job I love, I want everyone who works at BizStream to have a job they love. If you aren't happy at your job, it seeps into other parts of your life and affects people around you. I really want to be happy, and BizStream helps me be that.