Editor's Note: The IT Leadership Awards, presented by Pride Technologies, celebrate local IT professionals who help local, regional, national and global businesses run better through engaged leadership and a commitment to innovation. For the next 4 weeks, check back each Tuesday and Thursday as we highlight one of the 20 honorees of this year's award.
Sometimes, IT seems like an island to a company’s mainland, off in its own world. But Steve Brunker, chief information officer for LSI Industries, and other LSI executives have worked hard to make sure that’s not the case.
They’ve aligned IT with the rest of the business and built strong connections within the team and the rest of the company. "Operations and IT are like hand and glove," Brunker says. "We have a very flat organization. From the CEO to the factory floor, we don’t have a million levels. Everyone works together to drive success."
LSI Industries boasts its three key values as leadership, strength and innovation. Brunker personifies all three of those values.
He leads LSI’s information group, finding strong solutions for his business and its clients. And he helps his company innovate to improve communication, customer service and products.
The company creates efficient, high-quality lighting and graphic products. It provides LED lighting, outdoor and indoor lighting, landscape lighting, sports lighting and more.
"We’re very proud that we’re an American company," says Brunker. "We build, design and manufacture here."
They’re also extremely proud of strides to help cut the energy costs in their products, benefiting clients, the environment and the future. "We are making contributions to cutting energy, which makes a big difference to the quality of life in the future for our kids," he says. "Our goal is to reduce energy use 20 to 50 percent, which is a significant percentage."
Brunker, who has always been a gadget guy, loves seeing advances in technology, whether it’s in LSI’s products or in the way the communications and internal systems are working.
Last year, his team tackled a huge project, updating LSI’s enterprise resource planning system, what Brunker calls the "crown jewel" of LSI’s operations.
"It’s so integrated to our business, and is unique to our business," he says. "It helps us give the best customer service possible."
One ongoing effort of the IT team is striving to improve communication.
"We’re constantly focusing on communication," says Brunker, "both internally and with customers. We are always trying to improve the robustness of the community."
But seeking constant improvement doesn’t mean that Brunker tries to reinvent the wheel with every project. He urges working smart. "We sometimes customize off-the-shelf standard commercial products in new ways to create solutions," he says.
When he’s not at work, Brunker likes to hike with his wife, Sue. "We purchased a book called ‘60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Cincinnati’ that started us on an adventure finding some of the most beautiful woods and gorges in this part of the country," he says. "It’s particularly refreshing to get out in the fresh air and see the seasons change. I find that it clears my mind so that I’m more productive during the work week."
Previous honorees featured: Michael Braine, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Retail and Vision Care Services for Luxottica Retail; Jay Brown, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for UC Health; Dave Hofmeister, Chief Information Officer with Enerfab; John Kellington, CIO and Senior VP, The Cincinnati Insurance Companies; Vinit Kohli, Vice President of Management Information Systems for Sibcy Cline; Annette Marksberry, Associate Provost and CIO for Information Technologies at Xavier University; Anup Nair, Chief Information Officer of Vantiv; Jim Umphrey, Director of IT Operations for AdvancePierre Foods; Ralph Watkins, Vice President of Technology for Pure Romance