Brian Ward steps up to address a group of 40 colleagues at his new employer, MainSource Bank in Greensburg, Ind. His goal is to convince his fellow bankers — many of whom he hasn’t had time to meet — that he knows a better way for MainSource to computerize its commercial lending process throughout 78 branches in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky.
“When I was in Evansville, at Integra, these guys made me look good,” Ward tells the room.
All eyes immediately focus on the two strangers — Pat Heck and Brad Kemp from Lieberman Technologies in Evansville. No one in Greensburg knew about Lieberman then, but they do now. For 36 years, the information technology company has been a steady performer, dating back to 1977, when one-time IBM programmer Phil Lieberman started Philip Lieberman & Associates. The last two years have been exceptionally good despite an economy still recovering from the Great Recession. Lieberman does not release specific dollar figures, but revenue increased 35 percent from 2010 through 2012 and is expected to go up another 20 percent this year, according to Stewart Klipsch, managing partner. More than 50 clients have been added in the last two years and, as a result, more employees are expected to be hired this year. In addition to Lieberman, Klipsch and Heck, the leadership team includes Jeff Brown and Rick Culiver.
Ward’s demonstration to the staff at MainSource took place in the summer of 2011, but Heck still breaks out a big smile when he thinks about it.
“It was pretty cool to hear Brian say that,” says Heck, a former computer science professor at the University of Evansville and general manager for Norlight Inc. He joined Lieberman in 2011. “My chest went out a little further when I heard what he said. I never realized just how important he viewed our work.
“There’s nothing like having someone call you because they were really happy with the job you did when they were somewhere else. We had been serving Integra Bank for a number of years, so that was hard when Integra went away. (Integra Bank closed on July 29, 2011, and was acquired by Old National Bancorp.) For us, the Phoenix rising out of the ashes was people from Integra landing at a bank in Greensburg, Ind.”
Housed on the third floor of the General Cigar Building in downtown Evansville, you would never know that Lieberman’s 23 employees serve 400 clients from North Dakota to Tennessee to New York, including the banker in Greensburg who now calls Lieberman “the best vendor I’ve ever worked with in my career.”
Considering how brisk business has been, Ward is not the lone admirer. From large organizations such as Atlas Van Lines and DSM to smaller ones including Spudz-N-Stuff, Reitz Memorial High School, and Bob’s Gym (and don’t forget Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D.), Lieberman has carved out more of a swath than a niche. Instead of focusing on narrow areas of technology, it has managed to become a Jack-of-many-trades in providing computer programming, database development, website development, e-commerce applications, computer and network security, cloud computing, and smart phone apps.
“We’re not a one-stop IT shop, but we’re a lot closer than many other companies,” Heck says. “What Lieberman has always done well is tie systems together. Let’s say a company has existing computer systems, but they need to extend their system to the web or a smart phone. We’re good at tying those pieces together. I remember Phil saying to me, ‘If we can use technology to make a business better, make a little bit of money, and have fun doing it, we’re probably going to do it.’ That’s how we look at it. We know how to use technology to improve things. We don’t use technology for the sake of technology; we use it to make businesses better.”
MainSource is just one example of work that began in Evansville and spread from there. At the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office more than a decade ago, stacks of paper were outgrowing the department’s efforts to track, monitor, and collect tax debts for the Indiana Department of Revenue. Lieberman came along, created its Automated Tax Warrant System, and it worked so well in Evansville that 57 Indiana counties now use the technology.
“In personnel costs alone, we’ve already made up several times the cost of the project,” according to Sheriff Eric Williams.
At age 67, Phil Lieberman splits time now between Evansville and Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his wife, Mary, have a second home. Lieberman still bounds along the third floor hallways like a youngster as he checks out the company’s new office space. Business is thriving, but the challenge is to find room for additional employees. It’s a good problem to have.
“Thirty-five years ago, it was just me,” Lieberman says. “Now we have 23 people, and I never envisioned that this company would be as successful as it’s become. It’s not just that we have kept up with technology. The real reason for our success is the people we have in our company, and their links to other people in the community. People generally don’t look in the phone book or on the Internet to find a company to provide services. They look to their friends to provide references. That’s been our real key to success. Our staff is involved in the community. That is where most of our opportunities have come from, and that’s where our future will be.”
For more information on Lieberman Technologies, call 812-434-6600 or visit www.ltnow.com.