By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
Susan Huffine brings a personal touch to computer software issues.
Huffine has launched HSC Services – Huffine Software Consulting Services – as a full-time business in August. She started the business in March as a part-time endeavor.
Now the 1982 graduate of Bowling Green High School is offering knowledge acquired over several decades to area businesses.
The software consultant offers a range of services, all customized to the customer’s particular requirements. That includes finding just what software a company needs and how to adapt it to its operations “so the software can work for their company rather than them working for the software.”
Huffine also consults on how best to manage systems and analyze a business’s processes. She can set up a basic website and creating advanced databases and spreadsheets for companies. That wide range of services is all delivered with a personal touch.
“I need to listen to them,” she said. “I need to ask them questions before I can get to the nitty gritty of what they really need. I cannot create database without them, constantly meeting with them asking questions.”
Huffine comes from family of business people. Her father, Bob Huffine, ran a car repair shop in Custar, and her mother, Kay, did the books and continues to work part time at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in the village. “My mother taught me my love for numbers.”
She’s proud to have the Huffine name on another business and feels her father, who died in January, is “watching me.”
That family background in small business also gives her insight in what it’s like to operate a business, including how tight finances can be. She tries to set her fees accordingly.
Huffine, though, didn’t set out to operate a business.
She has always loved music and influenced by long-time high school choral director Jim Brown she went to Bowling Green State University to study vocal music. “But life didn’t direct me in that way.”
She switched to business education. “I was floundering.” As a student worker in the Career Center at a time when computers were first taking hold, three counselors noted her high tech skills and advised her to go into business.
She graduated with a business degree with specialization in Management Information Systems in 2000. Twelve years later she got her master’s in organizational development.
With her degrees in hand, Huffine turned her sights to starting her own business. “Education was my goal, now my business is my goal.”
She worked for more than 20 years at BGSU and taught her first computer classes there in 2000. At BGSU she worked with Carl Dettmer. When he moved to Owens Community College, Huffine started teaching one-day classes there, both in Perrysburg Township and Findlay.
She also worked part-time for Gail Mercer as the branch manager of Raymond James in Bowling Green. “I got more clients and more teaching gigs, so I decided it was time to really take off with it.”
Having her own business allows her the flexibility she needs to take care of her 3-year-old grandson.
The teaching is an essential part of her business. Sometimes students find they need class consultation beyond the class instruction to adapt QuickBooks, Microsoft Access or other software to their operations.
Computer software, Huffine said, has many details and intricacies. One of the pleasures of running the business is seeing customers happy when they realize what had been taking them hours to do now takes only minutes. “I like to see their faces when they see what the software is capable of doing.”
But those intricacies mean, Huffine herself is constantly in learning mode. “Even though I used the software since birth, I’m learning something new all the time.”
Sometimes student will discover a nuance that she hadn’t known about.
At Owens she’ll be teaching about the most recent changes in Windows Office products. “There’s no book,” she said. “I have to come up with the materials. That research helps me keep up with things.”
Huffine also likes delving into the workings of her clients’ businesses and organizations. It may be Campbell Soup looking for a way to quantify waste in its manufacturing process. Or a company that makes nuts and bolts. Or an entrepreneur developing her own teaching method.
“I find that stuff amazing.”