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Published: Monday, 8/2/2004

B.G. firm has its finger on technology

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN Bud L. Henschen decided to primarily do business with the little guy years ago when he started providing specialized software to rural municipal courts and such technology was in its infancy.

Now 178 municipal and other courts in Ohio alone use Henschen & Associates Inc. to track their cases by computer, and other government entities such as police and fire departments rely on the Bowling Green firm s software expertise too.

This year, the company established a statewide case system for courts to access more than 6 million records to research information.

But it was when Mr. Henschen considered bidding on a contract with Cleveland s municipal court last year that he got the idea for a spinoff of his firm, Bio-metric Products Inc.

The contract required identification through biometrics, or fingerprints, and Mr. Henschen and an Indiana man working on the technology officially paired up this year.

Like with Henschen & Associates, which primarily services smaller courts and government agencies, Bio-metric plans to sell customized software and equipment to small businesses instead of national players concerned with homeland security, Mr. Henschen said.

Municipal courts and other existing Henschen & Associates customers are potential users of biometrics, as are schools, banks, and hospitals.

Verifying someone s identity through a fingerprint can be useful at courts, in dormitories, while chasing checks, to get into cabinets containing medication, or a number of other uses, Mr. Henschen said.

The more we thought about it, we really saw there was a natural fit [for courts] there, he said. This is all stuff that can be really to the betterment of society.

Biometrics, for example, could one day replace credit cards, help police quickly determine whether someone they have pulled over has an outstanding warrant, and give emergency personnel the medical history of an accident victim, Mr. Henschen said.

I see this happening within the next 10 years without a doubt, he said.

Mr. Henschen has seen a lot of technological changes.

It was in 1987 while employed at a software store that he was approached at a clerk of courts conference about filing and tracking court cases by computer.

He worked with the clerk, began his business, which grew through referrals, and started adding juvenile, probate, and common pleas courts to this customer list.

One customer, Garfield Heights Municipal Court, is nearly paperless because all documentation is done on computer, Mr. Henschen said. Henschen & Associates also does Web sites for customers, he said.

Sylvania Municipal Court is one of the firm s first customers and appreciates various advancements made over the years, said Jo Ann Bell, chief deputy clerk.

The court, for example, can issue subpoenas electronically, and the recently developed statewide database has been very helpful, she said.

They have done so much, she said.

They just have a very good system. It makes our work very smooth.

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at: jmckinnon@theblade.com or 419-724-6087.



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