Spend Time & Do Business in Aurora Podcast: Logic Nebraska
Episode 1: Logic Nebraska
Justise: [00:00] This is Spend Time and Do Business in Aurora, where we talk to local businesses about their journey—how they got started, where they see themselves going, and helpful information if you want to start your own business. I am Justise Rhodin with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.
Justise: [00:17] Today, I am here with the owner of Logic Nebraska, Jeremy Heeg. Do you mind introducing yourself and telling me a little about Logic Nebraska?
Jeremy: [00:29] Logic Nebraska was started in 2011; we are coming up on ten years next year. It started when my wife and I moved back to Aurora from Omaha. We do primarily software development, but it’s not just the custom software. We help local businesses realize their technical potential. It is not just the software development side—it is taking the software you currently have and trying to make it fit your process better. Overall, we make work easier and more fun—get rid of some of the mundane tasks and just make life better for people.
Justise: [01:25] Now, you just went through a name change. I am familiar with you as Nemetric. What was this change about?
Jeremy: [01:35] Back in March, the pandemic, we had a lot of extra time to think and went through this whole “What are we doing?”. We have this software consulting company—we have a couple of employees, and we’re growing, but what is our purpose? So, we started thinking through and refining the vision and mission for the organization and how we tell people our story. One of the things that always bothered me was the Nemetric name. It was hard to pronounce. It was hard to remember. We’ve been called many things—Pneumatic, Newmetrics. It was just very difficult for people to get right. As we were developing this new vision or mission for the organization, we decided we needed to come up with a name that was easier to remember and also had some descriptive words that describe what we do.
Justise: [02:44] Now, I know that you’ve grown a lot. You used to be at the Square, and now you’re here at the Technology Center. As I understand, you were first in your home, even?
Jeremy: [02:58] Yep
Justise: [02:59] So, walk me through that whole process of going from in-home to having a location and now growing even more.
Jeremy: [03:09] Back in 2011, my wife and I lived in Omaha, and I was working for a software consulting firm there. We were trying to figure out if we wanted to start a family and where we wanted to live, and we ran through all of those things. We have family here, so it made sense to come back to Aurora, but what are we going to do for work? I had a conversation with my current bosses, and they were open to letting me move back to Aurora but work remotely doing contract work for them—kind of like a freelancer-type deal. So, we pulled the trigger and moved back. I started working all by myself in my basement. I continued to push buttons and just work hard. At some point, we had conversations with other people here, and they were like, “You can do that stuff?” The door started opening to building my own local clientele. We started growing through word-of-mouth and building up a local clientele. At some point, we decided, “Well, maybe you need to get an office space.” We knew about the Aurora Technology Center, so my first office
was in the Software 4 wing over there. It was like for six months. I moved in and was able to be more heads-down. There were other people around—that whole being isolated down in the basement was a tough time. I moved here and had the grand idea that I wanted to be on the Square, so I went and found a space on the Square; moved upstairs—one with a big courthouse view. I did that for a couple of years, then moved downstairs in the same building. After a few years, it had been redone. That’s six years in, and it wasn’t until then that I was able to finally hire my first employee. So, it was just me hanging out in these office spaces—it was an interesting time. We were on the Square for five total years, then came back to this Aurora Technology Center thing that existed in Aurora that seemed fairly under-utilized. The organization has great bones. We felt we could move in here with Software 4—they still occupy the entire wing over there. We would serve as an anchor tenant and try to see if we could promote entrepreneurship and start-up companies in Aurora—just see what we could do to revive the Tech Center and serve the community.
Justise: [06:16] Now, you said that you were able to hire your first employee—how many employees do you currently have?
Jeremy: [06:20] Currently, we have two—plus myself—full-time. Michael came on three and a half years ago, and Alex started a year ago in January right before the pandemic hit.
Justice: [06:35] I know Michael works in Kearney. Are you looking to expand beyond Aurora at this point, then?
Jeremy: [06:46] Yeah, yeah. A little over a year ago, Michael got married, and he and his wife homesteaded in Kearney. He’s smart and hardworking, so we figured it would work out for him to be remote. It’s been great, especially as we had to be remote as Covid hit. It’s been working out really well. Going back to that March revisioning of the organization, we figured Michael is in Kearney, so maybe we can set up a presence in Kearney. A couple of months ago, we found office space in Grand Island downtown. We have the Aurora office space. The whole idea is you have this new big idea—I guess this is more on the software developer side—is that we are all kind of spread out. We’re not really condensed in any particular area. If we need to hire a new developer, and we can hire someone in St. Paul—someone who is under-employed or has the knack and work ethic—let’s get an office in St. Paul and stand them up there. As long as we’re all within an hour of some central location, maybe we all get together one day a week and work from the same office someday. We’re trying not to limit ourselves as far as where we can hire developers because they’re scarce everywhere, even in the cities. Limiting yourself to a geographical location can really hinder potential growth in the future.
Justise: [08:46] So, you said you got the location in Grand Island. Does that mean you are looking to hire another employee, or expand out there—what does that future look like? That’s news to me.
Jeremy: [09:00] The Grand Island location came from—I’ve been watching a developer over there—he’s been remodeling the Hedde Building downtown. I think I saw a newspaper article a year and a half ago where he was talking about this space that he wants to have in there. It’s called the Collaborative, and it’s a shared office space—not a huge office, but kind of a community-type deal. It’s a place for companies to pop in and grow. It’s a super cool building. He did a great job rebuilding it into what it is. It was unfortunate timing with everything, but I still reached out when I saw that he was pretty much done with the space. We had a conversation, and I said I
would like to have a presence here; it ties into our new growth plan. A lot of our clientele is in Grand Island, so it gives us a place to have meetings and a presence in one of the larger cities in Central Nebraska.
Justise: [10:10] Great! So, you’ve had a lot of great success, kind of climbing up that rope. Talk to us about some of those struggles and barriers along the way. We have a lot of new incoming businesses in our area, so any advice or struggles that you had faced during that time?
Jeremy: [10:31] Yeah! Thinking back, the business model and the work has always been pretty streamlined—this is what you do, and this is how you do it. The biggest struggle for me has been pulling on the first employee when we hired Michael. You have to do all this work to save up all this money so that you have enough runway in case you don’t have any work. Then you hire somebody, so you’re making this commitment that this company which has no employees, is going to be able to continue paying you. That was tough. Knowing when the right time was—when we had enough work in the funnel—and all those variables that came into play there. Executing on that as smart as we possibly could so that it didn’t end up badly.
Justise: [11:30] I know you’re also super involved in our community—you sit on the Chamber board, and you also are the president of the Technology Center, right?
Jeremy: [11:43] Yes.
Justise: [11:43] Tell us a little bit more about your involvement and why you want to get involved. You’re very young when we look at the grand scheme of business owners; why did you want to get involved?
Jeremy: [12:00] Yeah, this is interesting. This just popped into my head. I’ve never really thought about this. When I was getting started, I think we had the office down—we were upstairs on the Square, and I was working with a customer, someone local. We were making small talk on a phone call before everyone got there. He asked me, “What are you doing in your community?” I didn’t have an answer. What a weird question; I had never given it much thought. That kind of bothered me. It settled in, and at about the same time, Chad Johnson, the other coach for the robotics organization I’m a part of, saw a news article about a software guy in Aurora. He came up and told me what he was doing with this middle school and high school robotics team. I’m like, “Sure, I can come out and help with the software side of things.” That kept on growing. These community organizations are kind of like growing a business, right? You get to talk to people and meet other community folks. I started doing the robotics thing, which was here at the Tech Center. That got me more involved with the Tech Center, and the Chamber of Commerce just fit in. It just started spiraling out of control—what can I do to better the community? It’s fun; it’s rewarding, and you get to meet a lot of people. Otherwise, what’s the point of living in a small town?
Justise: [14:00] Since you are originally a local kid—do you feel that had helped you, coming back to Aurora to get more involved with that? For example, I’m new, I’ve never been from Aurora, but I jumped right in. It seemed like a little bit of a struggle, but I wonder about your perspective.
Jeremy: [14:21] I suppose it makes opening a door easier, but I think if you put yourself out there and accept opportunities to help, eventually, more opportunities show up. I grew up in Phillips and went to
school in Aurora, so I have those connections with my peers. As far as being involved in Aurora as a community, that wasn’t really the case growing up. I guess being able to say I went to school in Aurora pushes the door open a little bit.
Justise: [15:05] Well, even if you’re from Phillips, I know we want to get more involved in the county, which really helps. Let’s go back to the Technology Center. Can you share a little bit of the history of this place? I know you said you really loved what you guys are doing. Do you know some of the history of why this was started and where you guys see the future of both the Technology Center and your business being located here?
Jeremy: [15:39] The Hamilton County Technology Corporation was founded in, I think, 2001—some of the documents go back to 1999. A lot of the community leaders came together and realized that there was a potential for high-growth tech start-ups, and why not be in a rural area? They raised the money to buy the building—the Economic Development Corporation was involved, the Chamber of Commerce, Hamilton Community Foundation—there’s this wall out here that has all the people out here that were involved with getting this thing going. On top of that, it was just a lot of volunteer work, getting the place ready for businesses to move in, and just managing to get this thing going. Jim Anderson was the manager at Software 4; they were over in a building by the Square. He was involved in the project, and he worked to get Software 4 to move into one of the wings and be the initial anchor tenant for the building. With their presence here and everyone just being excited about things, there were some start-up businesses that people were able to start up in the Technology Center. That’s where my knowledge of the history gets a little—I’m not sure exactly which businesses were here. Being here allows me to have conversations with people that have been here for a long time and learn about those things. That got going, and Co-op, when they were building their headquarters, rented a few of the offices. That was really good for the Tech Center as an organization. It helped build some funds so that if an air conditioner went out, you weren’t scrambling to figure out how to replace it. Software 4 was in here doing their work, and there wasn’t really anyone pushing forward to try to make it live up to its potential. That’s where being involved in robotics and seeing the space all the time—“This is good; we can make something of it.” I slowly worked in and started getting more and more involved. We moved my business here and have intentions of growing and trying to get start-ups. We have some great ideas—pandemic had some ideas, too. We are just kind of on pause right now. Going forward, I think there is a great opportunity with robotics and bias toward youth entrepreneurship. We have this space; why couldn’t we do a program where the summer after you graduate high school, you get a free office space if you submit a business plan? Try to get something going, right? Someone from here or someone who graduated college from anywhere in the state, you’d want a place to come start up. Here’s an office space for a year. Try to make it work; we’ll work with you. Just try to build up the resources that could help something like that happen.
Justise: [19:19] Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. I know we’re very unique in our community with having this type of place. Hopefully, we can see it grow. Now, out of all the time with your business, what is your biggest success—with your business or even your personal life?
Jeremy: [19:42] I think it comes back to creating new jobs and hiring developers. There are not a whole lot of developer jobs available in the area, and in my case, working with youth and college. Michael
interned with me during his second year in college, and that later turned into a job when he graduated. Creating that opportunity for these developers to come in and do work, and do work that they love, is very fulfilling. It took a lot of work to get to that point—being able to offer someone an opportunity to come in and do fun work and enjoy their career.
Justise: [20:31] So, we’re coming toward the end of this. I already said you’re on our board for the Chamber, and you guys have been a long Chamber member. Why did you decide you wanted to get involved in the Chamber?
Jeremy: [20:50] You know, it’s funny. Initially, it was just what you did as a business. It was curiosity as to what this Chamber thing was. From there, just being involved with it and seeing the events and the Chamber as part of the community. It allowed me to meet a lot of people that I wouldn’t have otherwise met, and the networking aspect of things. The board opportunity came along. It’s things like this podcast—what value can I help create via the Chamber to help people like me in the future?
Justise: [21:54] Last question—anything that you would like to share with your fellow business owners and future customers?
Jeremy: [22:04] Let’s grab a coffee or a beer sometime.
Justise: [22:08] Great! Yes! I love that! Well, thank you so much, Jeremy, for sitting down with us. We hope to see you grow and do lots of great things in our community, and we’re glad to have you on board!
Jeremy: [22:24] Alright, thank you!
Justise: [22:25] Thanks.
Justise: [22:26] Be sure to hit that follow button to check out our next business as we spend time and do business in Aurora. To find out more about the Aurora Chamber of Commerce—what we’re doing and how you can get involved—visit auroranebraska.com.