A Newtek Customer Story
Like any great business, our success is wholly dependent on the success of our customers. As a tribute to our incredible customer base, we’re telling the stories of loyal clients, like Larry Klein, who are accomplishing great things in the world.
“You know they’re from Altoona, PA,” emphasizes Lions Gate Technology President Larry Klein. The guru behind the Southwest’s best IT consultancy knows intuitively that I, a fellow Pennsylvanian, will find meaning in the idea that Mallo Cups are made in our home state.
He continues, “As a matter of fact, I still have a box of ‘Mallo Bucks’ in a shoe box from when I was a kid.”
Do they represent a special time to you?
“No, not particularly,” he concedes with a smile. “It’s just that you need 500 Mallo Bucks for ten free Mallow Cups, and I am still a little shy.”
Wouldn’t that Mallow Cup promotion be over by now?
“Yeah, but if you think I am giving up after nearly 5 decades, you’re crazy,” he jokes. “I can’t imagine that the Company wouldn’t take them. Heck, maybe I’ll go right to the factory with a big bag of Mallo Bucks in tow to see what they’re worth today.”
“Love to have you!” invites Larry (though I am not so sure he’d be willing to cut me in as an equal partner on the marshmallowy, coconutty, chocolaty deliciousness) that he’s earned – and rightfully so. You see, I am not his client and if you spend time with Larry Klein, you know who comes first in his book. He has built his and his Company’s reputation on putting his customers first.
“I’ve lost one client since we opened doors and we handle hundreds,” explains Larry, “And regretfully it was I who ended that relationship.”
Too time consuming?
“No, no. That would never be an issue,” he tells, “I will always hire to accommodate needs. Let’s just say, we just weren’t a match.” Larry pauses, “You’ll think I am crazy if I tell you this, but you know – I still call to check in, too.” He shakes his head and looks up at me. Let’s move forward. It’s the IT man’s favorite expression and a concise reflection of his perspective and philosophy.
A true Son of Pittsburgh at heart, Larry is a guy who hasn’t forgotten his roots. Coming from the same Pittsburgh neighborhood (Squirrel Hill) as recognizable names like Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers Neighborhood), Iris Rainer (best-selling author), and Larry Luccino (President & CEO of Boston Red Sox) Larry recalls his love of taking apart radios and car parts as second to only his desire to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Alas, the best advice that Larry had ever been given, “Dogs try, people do,” (courtesy of his father), sadly did not improve the velocity of his fastball which, “peaked at around 60 mph.” Despite the early failure Larry endured by falling short of “The Bigs,” the work ethic and insight instilled in him by his dad has served him well.
“If you think I am giving up after nearly 5 decades, you’re crazy!”
So what does a Company who builds, “seamless technology infrastructure to support client operations so they may focus upon their respective specialties without worry, aggravation, or downtime,” regard as the most critical aspect of the IT trade?
“Listening,” says Larry. “You have to understand what the client needs and then of course, possess the know-how to deliver on point. Of course, in contrast, ‘understanding then failing to execute,” is an unforgivable blunder in its own right. But it all starts with focus and understanding your client needs.” Larry pauses, “You know what?”
“There are actually two. Not the least bit of anything I said matters without passion. You have to love what you do. There is too much in IT to screw up if you lack passion. Contrarily, if you do, it is that very passion that keeps you precise. If you love the feeling of watching something work seamlessly, you will excel.”
Do you find passion is lacking in your industry?
Larry nods as his eyes widen, “No doubt about it. At Lions Gate we don’t lose customers, but we do see new ones who had worked with other IT consultancies in the past. I’m just a guy from a small neighborhood in Pittsburgh and I never thought myself greater or more sophisticated than anybody else. It’s got to come down to passion and care.
In fact, it’s also the only reason why I partnered with Newtek. Just over a year ago now, I needed a teeny bit of website work and was also looking for a new hosting option. Your guys were so “on it” and so accommodating. I didn’t ask for anything major at all. So, when a Company the size of Newtek showed such concern and attention for a ‘first time caller’ with just a few minimal (low dollar) requests, I just knew there was a natural fit.
For years, I didn’t recommend web designers, or merchant processing companies, or really anything outside our specialization. I didn’t want to be responsible if my referrals fell short of my customers’ expectations – as those missteps would reflect poorly on me. I just refused to do it. Now, I don’t blink. I send people all the time and amazingly, Newtek started sending clients of theirs my way. I actually couldn’t believe it. So, there you go. Now you know why Lions Gate and Newtek work so closely together now – we’re essentially cut from the same philosophical cloth.”
Was the name “Lions Gate” intended to intimidate?
“No,” explains Larry, shaking his head. “When we first incorporated, I didn’t want to go with some cookie cutter ‘Sharptech’ or ‘Techsperts’ type of name. I really wanted something to distinguish us, or at least I wanted to try and come up with something at least a bit more substantive.”
You mean like, “Newtek?”
Other than your family, who do you regard as most influential to your development?
“Elie Wiesel,” Larry offers without pause.
Should I know the name?
“Yes,” he acknowledges, “He’s the author of ‘Night’ and a few other incredible books. His grasp of the human experience is pure beauty. His way of thinking is empowering and inspiring. I am who I am today, of course, because of my parents and sister, but also to some degree because of Elie Wiesel’s writings.”
If you were forced to take a vacation, where would you go?
Larry shares, “Okay, I will admit I am something of a workaholic if that’s what you are implying. But, I am blessed to understand the concept of recharging my batteries. I want to be at peak performance whenever I can be, so I force myself to stop and get away once or twice a year.”
“Yeah,” nods Larry, “I mean once I go, I am generally glad I did, but it is hard to convince myself to pull myself away from Lions Gate – despite the fact that we are saturated with a competent and talented staff. Be that as it may, I have my eyes on the Greek Islands. In fact, I am attracted to all the storied banks of the Mediterranean. Many of mankind’s great stories and lore began there.”
So, would an extended visit be a testament to your hard earned success?
“Success has nothing to do with the ability to take a vacation. There are lots of people who can take vacations who would tell you off the record that they don’t feel successful for one reason or another,” he points out. “Success to me, in my business and my life, needs only meet one standard and that is to earn the trust and faith of those you serve. Whether it’s a child, a spouse, a friend, a colleague or client – you give everything you are. That is success.”
Have you ever thought to try your model for success in another professional field?
“If by field you mean baseball field, it has crossed my mind, yes. Realistically, though?” he questions, raising an eyebrow. “I do not think there is another iteration of life for me. I think I am one of those people who are blessed to be where they are supposed to be. We played the hands we are dealt, we work hard, we accept, we overcome, we find our way, and we do our best. That is life. Though, I wouldn’t mind a couple of innings at shortstop – but only after we’ve ( Pittsburgh Pirates) clinched the pennant.”
So what’s next for Lions Gate?
“More of the same in terms of excellence of service – but of course I enjoy watching our Company grow,” he shares. “Right now we are in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado, and we even have a few clients in Texas and back East. We like to work across a variety of industries but lately we have been exceedingly busy with Healthcare, compliance – a LOT of HIPAA. That’s something we are always interested in, and something, coincidentally that we are comingling resources with Newtek inasmuch as we are assembling some unique, enterprising, and comparably affordable, full service solutions. HIPAA is something that is garnering more and more attention as of late from ‘the powers that be,’ and for that reason it must be taken seriously. That goes beyond being just nominally aware and dabbling in addressing issues. Rather, it must be handled the right way with impeccable attention to detail and ongoing execution. The dangers and the penalties therewith (to individuals and corporate entities alike), are far too lofty to underestimate or compromise in action or delivery.”
Once you get through the Pittsburgh wit, time spent with Larry makes brings with it the realization you are in the company of pro’s pro – and a really smart one at that. And apparently, we aren’t the only ones who know. Lions Gate Technology is a certified partner of Cisco, HP ProCurve, Dell, Barracuda Networks, Microsoft, Sonicwall, and MozyPro – just to name a few. Oh, and Newtek, of course!
In short, he and his team are no joke. What’s more, they are salt of the earth folks who go about their business the right way. So, if you need some on-site assistance for your business office infrastructure, Larry Klein is your guy.
In fact, he’s our guy too. And that’s because he is unequivocally the very best there is … and it’s not even close. (No, it also doesn’t hurt his cause that he’s got close to 500 Mallo Bucks)
Original case study can be seen here