Photo: EnergyCAP

Steve Heinz

Our interview is scheduled for 7 a.m., and the day is already well underway for Steve Heinz. He’s the CEO of EnergyCAP, a utility bill accounting and energy management software company that he founded in 1980, in the infancy of PC software. His first company, OmniComp, launched EnergyCAP’s predecessor, FASER Energy Accounting, which then handled utility bill verification, tracking and reporting, and the calculation of the cost avoidance attributable to energy management activities. By the mid-1990s, thousands of his customers had tracked an estimated 5 million bills a year valued at $2 billion. 

Today, EnergyCAP is the software of choice for more than 10,000 energy managers and utility bill accountants. The company is a multiple-year winner of ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year, has been listed in Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies, and as Environmental Leader’s Product of the Year. Steve says EnergyCAP’s success goes beyond its superlative software — it’s all about being a values-driven company, and “being good ancestors.”

HappyValley Industry: Tell us about EnergyCAP. What are the top things you feel the world needs to know about your company that it doesn’t already?

Heinz: I would tell them that we have the best office location in all of Central Pennsylvania. We’ve just built our new headquarters office at 360 Discovery Drive, Boalsburg, and there is so much to enjoy right out our back door. On Monday, you could go fishing; on Tuesday, play a round of disc golf; on Wednesday, be challenged by indoor rock climbing at Climb Nittany right next door. And then mountain biking Thursday on the adjacent Harvest Fields Community Trails and enjoy a nature hike and scenic views of Happy Valley on Friday. It’s all right here! 

Our customers know that they can count on us because we are constantly improving what we do.

We moved into the office in September, but many of our staff are still working remotely. We were able to build our office just the way we wanted: exposed ceilings, lots of amenities, call it frontier-techno-industrial style. It will be very nice to have everybody back together later this year in the nicest office setting within 50 miles. 

HappyValley Industry: What’s your secret sauce? What sets you apart from your competitors? 

Heinz: We’ve been around for a long time. Experience makes a big difference. We’ve been in business longer than all of our competitors and we understand our customers’ needs. Plus, we don’t need to rely on investor venture funding. We see energy software startups all the time, and they are too reliant on outside funding. Many just don’t make it to profitability.

Our customers know that they can count on us because we are constantly improving what we do. 

HappyValley Industry: What are the pain points you’re uniquely solving for your customers?

Heinz: We work with companies who are juggling 100; 1,000; or 10,000 utility bills in a month. That volume of bills creates a pain point. They need to pay the bills without late fees, they need to compare energy use from year to year, prepare carbon footprint reports, environmental reports — and all that requires being able to get their arms around all of the data quickly. If you don’t have a system to do that, it’s a big pain point. Since we’ve been around longer, we have a more robust system than our competitors and we can meet customer needs with one single best-in-class solution. 

HappyValley Industry: As the founder of EnergyCAP, what’s important to you about the culture of your company? 

Heinz: It is so important to me to create jobs for people, jobs that not only have great employment conditions but also great purpose. We have a wonderful office location, but it’s so much more than that. Jonas Salk, who famously developed the polio vaccine and refused any payment for it because he said it would be like “trying to patent the sun,” had this great quote where he said, “Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.” Some day we will all be judged for what we’ve done, for our impact on those who follow.

At EnergyCAP, that’s part of our culture. It’s core to what we do. It dictates our environmental focus. It fuels our partnership with Urugo Care Rwanda, where we’ve sent hundreds of children to school to give them the opportunities we take for granted. We’re working hard to make sure that this isn’t just a great job. It’s going beyond that to create something that will leave the world a better place. 

HappyValley Industry: Why Happy Valley? What are the benefits of existing here in the Happy Valley ecosystem? 

Heinz: My family and I came to Happy Valley when I started my master’s degree at Penn State. It became home. This time of year, sure, Florida would be nice, but that would mean leaving behind the friends, family and employees here in Happy Valley. We’ve made a home here and love being here. The amenities of Happy Valley—wide variety of available activities, great schools, relaxed lifestyle—appeal to a wide range of people; there’s something for everyone here. That has helped us attract and retain quality employees.