A Publication of WTVP

Turner: Startup of the Year

by Steve Stein | Photos by Ron Johnson |
Matt Whitehall cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of GoodJava, a software company that won the Turner Center’s 2023 Startup of the Year
Matt Whitehall cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of GoodJava, a software company that won the Turner Center’s 2023 Startup of the Year

GoodJava Inc. pours out business software solutions, not cups of cappucino

GoodJava Inc. opened in Morton on June 1. But there’s no sign for the company on the front door of its office in the Field Shopping Center.

“We didn’t put up a sign because people would think we’re a coffee shop,” said Matt Whitehall, GoodJava’s president. “They’d be breaking down the door.”

GoodJava, named the 2023 Startup of the Year by Bradley University’s Turner Center, is a software development firm that specializes in custom software solutions for business challenges. The name is a reference to software programming language, not the slang for coffee. 

GoodJava also does business as GoodFarm Solutions, serving clients in the agriculture industry.

Location, location, location

A GoodFarm Solutions sign is on the front door at GoodJava’s new office at 2109 S. Main St., next door to the VIP Morton Cinemas. Previously, GoodJava had operated out of a building on Sheridan Road in Pekin.

“The best way to describe that building is a ‘barndominium’ or ‘barndo,’” Whitehall said. “In any case, it was getting cozy in there for us. We needed to move into a bigger space.”

The 2,800-square-foot Field Shopping Center location on the outskirts of Morton “checked all the boxes,” Whitehall said. Among those is that it was once the home of CSE Software, so it had the computer tower outlets and network capabilities already in place. The space had been empty for about three years, most recently housing Tazwood Community Services.

‘A steady hand on the wheel’

Whitehall, 46, grew up on small farm near Aledo, where he helped his family raise hogs, cattle, corn and soybeans. He began learning to write computer code when he was 4. He later went to Monmouth College, where he earned degrees in computer science and music, with honors.

He worked at Caterpillar Inc. as a software engineer for eight years after graduation, then for a consulting firm where he designed and built an order processing system that at its peak was completing more than 10,000 orders a day and generating a half billion dollars in sales a year.

GoodJava was formed by Whitehall as a one-man show in 2014. As a software consultant with an emphasis on agriculture, one of the first clients he brought on board was Precision Planting, the Tremont-based ag technology giant.

‘I needed someone to take care of people I deeply care about’
— Mark Lockett

Another client was Creative Sites Media, a software consulting company based in Bloomington. A project Whitehall delivered led to Creative Sites Media being acquired by AGCO, Precision Planting’s parent company, in 2021. That acquisition left Creative Sites Media’s clients without a software consulting vendor. Whitehall and GoodJava filled the void.

“I had a personal relationship with my clients,” said Mark Lockett, former CEO and creative director at Creative Sites Media. “I needed someone to take care of people I deeply care about, and there’s nobody I would trust more than Matt. He’s a steady hand on the wheel, a pro. He’s talented. He’s hired some quality people who follow his vision.”

Absorbing Creative Sites Media’s former clients was the catalyst that launched GoodJava into the company it is today, said Whitehall.

The company employs about a dozen people and retains 20 clients across a variety of industries in central Illinois and the Midwest. Whitehall leads the way as GoodJava’s solutions architect.

‘GoodJava solves business problems’

One client is SAMI, the acronym for Student Apartment Mart Inc., a property management company that offers apartment rentals to students at Illinois State University and Heartland Community College.

SAMI pays the utility bills at each residence. Students are billed monthly for the utilities on a pro-rated basis based on the number of students living in the residence during the month. Billing periods for utilities vary, complicating matters even further.

“Creating the students’ bills for utilities was a labor- and time-intensive process for us,” said SAMI owner Darren Rogers. “We needed an automated software solution that integrated with our property management software.”

Several months of discussions, followed by development and testing by GoodJava, resulted in a solution.

‘a lot of software companies are good at writing code, but not addressing business problems’
— Darren Rogers

“We did away with the Excel sheets we were using for utility bills early this year,” Rogers said. “The utility billing software has been tweaked since we started, adding functionality and new features through a combination of our thought process and GoodJava’s solutions. It’s been great.

“It seems like a lot of software companies are good at writing code, but not addressing a business problem. GoodJava solves business problems.”

GoodJava can be contacted at (309) 431-2451, [email protected], or

Steve Stein

Steve Stein

is a longtime Peoria area print journalist