Jul 12, 2019

A Conversation with the Creators of NorthScope ERP on Challenging the Status Quo of the Food ERP Industry


For over eleven years, The Northlake Partners, creators of NorthScope ERP software for food manufacturers, have provided ERP software and step-by-step guidance to food manufacturers, giving them the tools to build the business they’ve always wanted. With over 35 years combined experience in the Food ERP industry, managing partners Tom Williams and Adam Herman share some insight on WHY they started the company and HOW they do what they do.

  1. Why do you do what you do?
  2. Tom: It always bothered me how much money and morale companies waste having people do things that are not worthy of their talents due to inadequate systems and/or processes. I know how it feels to come to work each day and spend all my time doing a series of simple and unimportant tasks that, if automated, would be faster, more accurate, and would allow me to focus on things that could make a real difference. I’ve also witnessed a complete shift in how team members were perceived before and after improvements were implemented and realized that you don’t get an accurate view of people’s abilities when everyone’s operating in chaos.
    Adam: I come to work every day because I want to be the best vendor for our customers, I want to be the best team member I can be, I want to build a world class working environment so all our team members can grow as people and I want to build the absolute best product on the market for our industry.

  3. Why did you start your own company?
  4. Adam: Starting a company was based on the absolute feeling that we could do a better job than the other people that were doing it. We knew a lot about the industry and felt like we could turn that knowledge, plus our desire to do something bigger, into a better version of what we had been living previously.
    Tom: I never set out to start my own company, I just wanted to do something I loved; in a company I was proud to be part of. I knew “what” I loved doing but had not been able to find a company doing what I was passionate about with a customer-centric vision.

  5. Why food ERP software?
  6. Tom: I had spent 10 years providing ERP software to food companies and really liked the companies and the hardworking people in those companies. During that time, I had many opportunities to meet with customers to understand their problems and then design features to solve those problems. Seeing a customer struggle with something, designing a solution that solves it, and then seeing it become part of the core product was a great feeling I wanted to keep experiencing.
    Adam: I wanted to leverage the knowledge I had of food ERP software because this is a really interesting industry. I love going places and working with people involved in the food chain and supporting something that benefits everyone. I used to think it was less glamorous than other industries but now I consider most other industries boring and find the challenges and changes in the food industry much more compelling. I don’t know of another industry that exists in every country, city, language, and currency and that every person in the world depends on.

  7. From what you’ve seen elsewhere in the industry, HOW were you going to do things differently in your company?
  8. Tom: Software companies have a reputation of doing and saying anything to make a sale. They often over promise and under deliver and don’t really take ownership of solving customer problems. We will never make a promise and not deliver. We will never lie, even if it costs us sales. We will never justify unethical behavior because “that’s just business.” We never want a team member to feel taken advantage of or not appreciated. We wanted a company where team members had the right tools and were all fighting towards a common goal – to serve our customers.
    Adam: Before starting our own company, I got really frustrated with implementations of technology that were not easy to use, didn’t work well and weren’t very fast. I’ve also gotten frustrated with experiences where team members and customers weren’t treated well so we wanted to build and maintain an environment that people wanted to be a part of. As we grew and began hiring additional team members, this became important for us to pass down and to empower our staff to really work towards building something that is bigger than ourselves. Overall, we strive to offer an environment that helps team members build the best life that they can. Also, our goal of really serving our customers is very, very strong. Since the beginning, we’ve always done whatever it took to make and keep them happy. We learned early on that if people throw problems at you and you make those problems go away, they will keep asking you to help with other things.

  9. What are some things you’ve seen or experienced in your professional career that you wanted to emulate with your product/company?
  10. Tom: The best leader I ever worked for exemplified and taught amazing customer service. He expected his teams to do everything possible within their power to serve customers. This went far beyond smiling and being nice, it was about actions. If we didn’t have it, we’d order it. If we couldn’t order it, we’d call a competitor to see if they had it. You always serve your customers and exceed their expectations.
    Adam: Years ago, I had a boss that did an excellent job of taking care of his employees. He had my back and went above and beyond to take care of his team. I’ve always wanted to pass this feeling on to others whenever I have the opportunity. Also, in a previous company I worked for, we partnered with another software vendor on several projects. I was amazed at how simple and easy it was to work with their team and how quickly they were able to make software changes required by their customers. As a result, this has been our standard. NorthScope is easy to upgrade and update and we can patch problems on the fly. We made our product flexible so customers wouldn’t have to wait for important things they need or have those changes be too expensive.

  11. What is the goal you’re trying to accomplish with your business and product?
  12. Tom: No one should be miserable or feel undervalued doing remedial tasks at work. The computer is an amazing tool that, with the click of a button, can do hours of mundane, remedial tasks. We help people be enriched at work while helping their companies run more efficiently. We believe we sell a better future, it’s not something we just say or take lightly, it’s a belief that drives how we operate.
    Adam: We want to serve everyone in our ecosystem by building the Ferrari of bug free, hassle free, lightning fast business software.

  13. What are some ways you’ve lived out that goal?
  14. Adam: We are continuously refining our hiring process to make sure we’re getting the best people to benefit our team and our customers. We also continue to make NorthScope more flexible to change on the fly and easier to maintain.
    Tom: We’ve taken NorthScope from a sales order enhancement for Dynamics GP to a fully functioning ERP System. Learning about our customers by listening to their needs has enabled us to design features to make their lives easier. Because we’ve focused on how we can better serve our customers, we’ve built a better solution. In the short-term, this hasn’t always benefited us, but we don’t make decisions based on the short-term impact. We want to be the best solution for our market so we’re in this for the long term.