Moving Forward:The Changing Dynamics of a Local Family Business

  • By Chelsea Mills
  • 09 Jan, 2015

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Life changed suddenly for the siblings in the Goggins family during the holidays of 2010. They experienced the ultimate heartbreak when they lost both of their parents exactly one week apart, due to terminal illnesses. And it was during this time that the siblings realized their individual aspirations were somewhat different from the path on which they currently found themselves.

Let’s back up a bit. For those of you who don’t know, NorthGate is a Goggins family-owned, Flint-based company, which was founded in 1984 by the patriarch of the Goggins family, Jack Goggins. Jack was the classic entrepreneur, cultivating many new ideas and founding several local businesses. But one venture took on a life of its own when the company’s major customer adopted Jack’s innovative idea for packaging automotive parts—and the name given to this program was the GumWrapper Packaging System, or later, and more affectionately, called Gummy Boxes.

This October, NorthGate celebrated two major milestones: its 30th anniversary and the major accomplishment of 100,000 on-time truckload deliveries of the Gummy Box. NorthGate invited community leaders, customers, vendors and all of its 220 employees to an evening celebration. The party invitation included an animated video telling the GumWrapper story. This video can now be found on the company website homepage at .

At the celebration, Andy Goggins, the youngest sibling and now owner of NorthGate, announced that he intended to make the momentous delivery scheduled for the following week. That proclamation concerned all the guests until Andy reminded them that his first role at the company was as a truck driver. So, on October 15th he did make the voyage with perfect execution.

The Goggins children grew up in Flint and Flushing and were immersed, to varying degrees, in the various business ventures of their father. Not every one of Jack’s ideas was successful, but in 1995, the GumWrapper business took shape, and the company was expanding. So, Jack began executing a long-term strategy for succession of the business to his six children, making them all partners of the company. “We were all active and familiar with the company even though only some of us had a full time role,” explains Terri (Goggins) Witt, the eldest daughter and current President of NorthGate. "I joined the business full-time in 2008, when my dad slowly started leaving more and more of the day-to-day decisions and tasks to us,” she adds. “At that time, not much thought had been given to the reality of what would happen when Dad was not part of the team.”

During this time, the business was operating under the name Security Packaging, but the company did so much more than just packaging, that it began to move forward with rebranding and refocusing of the business. "In 2011, we decided to change our name to NorthGate,” says Rick Valley, a brother-in-law and business development executive, "[in order] to describe our strategic location as the northern gateway of the manufacturing center of the Great Lakes Region. We were no longer exclusively a packaging services company; we had extensive expertise in order fulfillment, sorting, repackaging, kitting, inspection and warehousing.” And Terri goes on to explain that "as a company, we refocused on who we were and what makes us unique in the marketplace. We also worked to better describe our core values. We highlighted our belief in the importance of our employees to the ongoing success of the company and the significance of offering meaningful employment opportunities in our community.”

“It is important to me that everyone is treated with respect, just like they are part of our family,” Terri’s brother Andy adds. “I am proud of the relationship that we have built with our employees, our customers, our suppliers and our community.” And Terri continues in the same vein, saying, “I agree, we have the BEST employees in Genesee County. One of the main reasons I get up every morning is because I know I have over 200 families counting on us to make the right decisions for our company.”

NorthGate has grown to have over 500,000 square feet of value-added space in its three Flint facilities. They have grown through the years as a leading supplier to automotive companies in the Great Lakes region. Now NorthGate has positioned itself as a total solution provider in the areas of warehousing, packaging, processing and distribution services. "As an example of the type of partnership we provide our customers, we recently received a call from a Tier 1 automotive parts manufacturer looking for warehouse space,” Terrence Ethier, Business Development Director explains. “When we explored more fully their business issue, we realized we could do more than just provide warehousing for them—[in fact,] we were able to provide additional value-added services as well. This customer needed to focus on core business, and we are able to help manage the logistics aspects of the operation.”

Here is how it works: NorthGate sends empty racks to this manufacturer, daily, to match the shift production needs; the racks are then loaded with parts and sent along the supply chain, and eventually to an automotive assembly plant for installation in a new car. Next, the now-empty racks are sent back to NorthGate to be inventoried, cleaned, sequenced (based on the customer’s specifications), warehoused, and then, to complete the circle, shipped back to the customer. The company also provides other warehousing and inventory management services for this manufacturer. It has become a successful partnership.

In late 2012, it became clear that the best thing for the company would be to have a single direction moving forward. So, as a family, the Goggins decided that the sibling with the most extensive company background and the responsibility for key business relationships should direct the future of the company – and Andy became the owner of NorthGate. “We don’t know what the future may hold for us, but we expect our continued growth to support enhanced career opportunities for employees and managers who share our vision for the company,” Andy says, adding that “We will remain an independent, family-owned, Flint-based company [that is] dedicated to hard work, innovative and cost-effective businesses solutions [as well as] outstanding customer service.”

NorthGate provides warehousing, packaging, processing and distribution services. It is strategically located in Flint, Michigan, the “Northern Gateway” and ideal location to process materials being shipped into or out of the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada.

For additional information, please visit .

Around The Town with Chelsea

By chelseajaie 20 Oct, 2017
Did you know………Every year, 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence. ( )
From 2000 through the first half of 2016, more than 600 people were killed in 213 active shooter events identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Unfortunately, this hits even closer to home. In 2016 two young women were fatally shot while at work in Genesee County. This seminar has been in the making since that terrible tragedy last year, unfortunately in the wake of the Las Vegas tragedy, this topic is all too relevant today.  
On Thursday, October 26, 2017, Behind Your Design will be hosting a seminar on Workplace Violence Safety. Please see the attached link and flyer to sign up. RSVP is necessary as seating is limited.
By chelseajaie 03 Oct, 2017

A t Bella Vita, exceeding the expectations of the residents is simply the beginning. Having a quality life in our later years is the least we all should expect. Bella Vita is committed to providing an environment that allows one to feel independent, with the assistance of its highly trained care group.  

By chelseajaie 02 Oct, 2017

Today family businesses have a competitive edge that could hardly be anticipated. As millennials continue to take up over one third of the workforce, many of these individuals are looking for more out of a career than a paycheck. In this new arena, family businesses have an edge in building a sustainable footprint because of the personal connection between the family and the community they serve. 

A textbook example of this is Peabody Insurance Agency, a company with a history of serving the community since 1919. In the last year Peabody Insurance has grown the team to include two new family hires, Grace and Brandon, and has completely remodeled its office.

“In order to thrive in today’s competitive environment, I believe it’s important for businesses to give the next generation a voice in how we should work and serve our customers,” explains Jim Peabody, partner of Peabody Insurance in Fenton. “Our team has developed a culture of collaboration, where insurance knowledge is fused with new ideas, processes and tools.”

Peabody Insurance is now one of the most capable independent agencies in the state, with the development of an interactive safety app, DocuSign, virtual meetings and a client portal. “Many of our features have the goal of saving our clients time and money. Customers have the ability to choose how they want to do business with us,” Jo Schofield, account executive, explains, “and our customers enjoy supporting local businesses because they know those dollars are going right back into their hometown.” 

By chelseajaie 29 Sep, 2017
Written by: Andrea Kehoe
By chelseajaie 23 Aug, 2017
Behind Your Design recently had the pleasure of designing a new responsive website for Image Flow Media. Image Flow is a full service commercial production company serving the metro Detroit Area. They are constantly pushing themselves, their equipment and their approach to the edge. Image Flow is a solutions-oriented team with a proven ability to get things done while managing multiple projects. They're experienced, passionate, motion graphics artists and video editors, looking to continue expanding their knowledge in all areas of production. 

 To see example of their work please click here  . Contact us at   Behind Your Design   to help you design your next website.

By chelseajaie 09 Aug, 2017

Starting a new business? Looking to give your current logo a 'refresh'? It can be easy to just think  'I need a logo!'  - what you are saying is that you want a graphic representation of your business to use on your marketing materials. What you  need however is a memorable overall ' brand' that will attract customers to your business. Luckily, at Behind Your Design, we can help you with all your needs, even the ones you don't know yet.

How do I create a brand? 

It's important to know your brand values and aspirations. Basically, your WHY? What made you start your business in the first place? What problem are you solving and what are your passions? Long term, where do you want to be in 2, 5, 10 years? The answers to those questions are the core of your brand. We want to give you the tools you need to reach your greatest potential.

Next, we'll work on the personality of your brand. What will your brand look like? Sound, feel, act like? Knowing your business' personality allows it to shine through everything we do. It also helps narrow down your target customer and decide how your business will interact with them. Appealing to a certain audience makes marketing efforts meaningful and effective.

Consistency is key. We work together to create an entire brand concept and easy guidelines to follow. Colors, fonts, patterns... Anything to make your look consistent will be part of your brand. Then, we use those elements across all platforms (website, social media, business cards, etc) to ensure your voice, mission and design flow fluidly and works together.

Once you've created this brand, it's time to go beyond that and uphold the reputation. Your customers have to truly believe in your brand, just like you do, and will, in turn, become loyal advocates of your business. Not only will they stay local to you but they'll also recommend you to others.

Your business is so much more than just a logo. We believe building a solid brand can become a company's greatest asset, so we cover every step:

  • Web Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Email Marketing
  • Facebook Marketing
  • Mobile App Design
  • Trade Show Booth Design
  • Custom Photo Gifts
  • Speaking Engagements
To view our design portfolio, click here.

By chelseajaie 25 Jul, 2017
Behind Your Design is excited to announce the launch of JDLab's new responsive website and logo design. JDLab is a family owned business dedicated to delivering high quality work in every department. Founder J.D. Hicks’ goals in 1950 remain their goals today:  "Provide every professional photographer with the highest standard of quality and service, and to work as partners to help studios grow as successful businesses."   To learn more about what JDLab can do for you please click   here . Contact us at   Behind Your Design   to help you design your next website.
By chelseajaie 18 Jul, 2017
Behind Your Design is excited to announce that we have created a new logo for Wayne Contracting Services, LLC. Wayne Contracting Services, LLC is a licensed and insured construction company providing a variety of construction and remodeling services to SE Michigan. Give them a call for all your contracting and remodeling needs! If you are in need of a new logo contact us at  Behind Your Design   today to get started!

By Chelsea Mills 18 Jul, 2017
Join the growing team at Behind Your Design at 100 S. Adelaide St. in Fenton, Michigan!

- 40 Hours A Week (Mon-Fri - 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM with working lunch)
- Paid Holidays
- Opportunity for 401k Retirement Matching
- Must be able to multi-task, delegate and prioritize jobs that come in
- Must be able to track time spent on projects
- Responsible for ordering from vendors
- Responsible for managing multiple tasks and keeping jobs moving forward by following up with clients and our designers
- Friendly pleasant personality
- Responsible to answer phones, greet customers, take messages and packages
- Team environment
- Time Management and Organizational Skills
- Matching expenses/orders with client billing
- Approximately 25% of the job will be coordinating photo booth jobs including contracts, graphics, staff, programming booths, posting photos, burning DVD’s and communicating with clients.

Technical skills needed, but not required to apply, we would train qualified applicants:
- HTML Email Blasts (Constant Contact, MailChimp)
- Website Building
- Basic Photoshop Skills
- Professional Email Skills
- Word, Excel
- Asana Task Management System
- Social Media Posting
- QuickBooks

Click Here to Apply

By Chelsea Mills 11 Jul, 2017
Behind Your Design recently had the pleasure of designing a new website for Bennett Communication Solutions. Bennett Communication Solutions is a local family company that opened its doors in 1945. They provide telephone answering services, remote receptionist services, voice mail, and other services to meet the needs of their business customers. While they maybe local they have clients nationwide. Their clientele includes health care services, property management and real estate, contractors and of course business professions. To learn more about their services please click here . Contact us at  Behind Your Design  to help you design your next website.
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