Northrup shares why happy employees are good for business, their unique perspective on repeatable best practices and why utilities should be cautious of bleeding edge technologies.
Learn more from Stephen Northrup – play the soundbite.
UMC: It’s rare that a company in the utility industry has a bird as their logo, what inspired the representation of the Blue Heron?
Stephen Northrup: I am a nature lover and wanted a name for the company when it was formed in 1999 that stood out from other tech companies, was easy to remember and was nature oriented.
UMC: Blue Heron is a big advocate of “happy employees are important to the bottom line.” How does your company foster this idea?
Stephen Northrup: BHC differentiates itself perhaps more than any other company in the utility consulting business by developing specific policies, procedures and guidelines that stress employee work/life balance. BHC’s reputation as one of the best places for consultants to work at along with having one of the highest employee retention rates in the industry is something I am proud of and work hard at.
UMC: I see you have two locations one in Mexico City and the other in New York,; what is the glue that ties those two places together?
Stephen Northrup: BHC’s value integration consulting approach to business has been warmly received in other countries around the globe. When BHC is engaged on projects in foreign countries or within the USA, a critical success factor on all of our engagements is the ability for our project teams and consultants to tap into our broad best practice knowledge base and centers of excellence located in our Solution Center in Rochester NY.
UMC: What are some of your biggest projects right now?
Stephen Northrup: It depends what you mean by biggest. BHC does not measure “biggest” in terms of size (revenue or customer account) of the engagement. I can touch on two projects that are presently high in strategic importance to the company. First, we are implementing another one of our highly touted “fast track implementations” for the City of Escondido. Our fast track implementations significantly reduce project costs by compressing project timeliness by 25-30 percent. Another strategically important project is at Avista in Washington State, where BHC is partnering with Triniti Consulting on an MDM/CC&B project. Both projects are going very well and customer expectations are being met or exceeded.
UMC: In a past article published by Green Tech Media, Jeff Martin, CEO of San Diego Gas & Electric stated that he “believes there will be more change in the utility industry over the next 10 years than in the last 100 years.” Based off of your own observations, do you believe this is a pretty accurate statement?
Stephen Northrup: Yes, I agree. Technology advancements are happening so fast and frequent that we see many current state technologies and business processes being rendered obsolete after only a few years in production.
UMC: What types of technologies do you see emerging most in this time of “change”?
Stephen Northrup: Mobile technology will continue to be a main change agent driver along with more demand for clean fuel technologies (wind, solar, fuel cell, battery, etc.).
UMC: How will you support your current and future clients in their endeavors to evolve with the times?
Stephen Northrup: Our roadmaps to the future typically advocate following a cautious, measured and methodical approach to all major capital initiatives. We are leery of being the first ones to jump on “bleeding edge” technologies that increase risks of over investing and overspending on obsolete technologies.
UMC: Almost two years ago Blue Heron celebrated its 15-year anniversary serving the utility industry. What do you attribute most to your continued success?
Stephen Northrup: Whether it’s a large multi-billion-dollar tier-1 firm or a small mid-size firm like BHC, the key to business sustainability and relevancy is a company’s ability to adapt to market changes in an efficient and expeditious fashion. We have made our fair share of course corrections over the last 17 years including changes to our executive team, service offerings, business and delivery models, and emphasis on customer and employee satisfaction. Agility is a big difference maker for us especially when competing against large tier-1 firms that are constrained by bureaucracy that struggle to make timely decisions and changes.