Underneath the seemingly rough exterior that Larry Kleber likes to project, lies a sense of responsibility and dedication to his job that would embarrass him to have to admit. Larry likes to make people think he is only thinking about his next ball game or beer with the guys.
"Larry is very focused on the delivery of our software. He is not happy unless the client is happy. He is willing to go the extra mile to do something right," says Ray Zick, Larry's supervisor.
A 13-year veteran of ACS, Larry currently works in the Upgrades and IT department, led by Ray. Larry thinks Ray is an excellent boss, and appreciates the way they work together. (He assured me that the fact that annual performance reviews are just around the corner had nothing to do with these comments.) Larry says that he and Ray make a great team, working together to make upgrades go smoothly.
While attending college, some of Larry's pre-ACS jobs included selling dictionaries door to door and managing a Little Caesar's Pizza store. Making a jump from retail to technical, he then joined a company that developed point of sale (touch-screen) systems where he specialized in system installation and maintenance. In 1995, Larry joined ACS and was put in charge of configuration control. He pioneered a successful system of organization and control that has allowed us to more effectively produce three releases per year. With the current technology, however, it doesn't require as much management as it once did.
As Advantage config control became less time-consuming, Larry branched out into working on new client implementations and upgrades. He handles the mechanics of getting a client from one rev to another, or, as he puts it, the "nuts and bolts" of upgrades. This includes tasks such as database restores, table upgrades, and updating table schema in a database for a new release. Since most upgrades are done after hours, Larry spends a lot of evenings, nights, weekends and holidays running and monitoring upgrade processes.
"I've had the pleasure of working with Larry off and on over the past six years," says Pat Sharpton of God's World Publications. "What I appreciate most about Larry is his ability to communicate in a non-technical, easy-to-understand way. He helped us through our last upgrade and taught me a lot about how Advantage works behind-the-scenes. With the help of Larry and others at ACS, I feel confident that our upgrade to 2008R1 will be a success."
As his job is a unique one at ACS, Larry has been a part of several different departments over the years. You might say that we didn't know what to do with him and that wouldn't be far off. However, "Larry's willingness to tackle anything has served us well," says Dick Hile, VP of Product Engineering. "In the complex, ever-changing, surprise-a-minute world of software configuration, where you can't predict what will be needed, Larry's talent for improvising solutions is invaluable."
Larry's favorite aspects of his job are the flexibility and the independence. He also likes getting to know clients and helping them complete their upgrade projects successfully.
"I have worked with Larry Kleber through two upgrades and he has helped me on several occasions when I had trouble with my Production server," says Frits Buningh of Army Times Publications. "Each time, Larry resolved the problem with a cool head and quick wit. I love working with Larry; he gets my problems resolved, and if he does not know the answer, he'll go and find it. Larry is my first line of defense when I have systems problems; he's my 'go to' guy!"
In his leisure time, Larry spends time with his wife, Jen, and on the activities of their three children. A big sports fan, Larry likes to play almost any sport involving a round ball: basketball, volleyball, baseball, paddleball, softball and soccer. Not football, because he says he "wants to keep my knees," or golf, because "golf isn't a sport." Larry also likes to play video games, although his 16-year-old son routinely beats him, and participate in online poker tournaments. (And yes, he does report his poker winnings to the IRS.)
Larry's other function at the company is to instill his own brand of humor into ACS company meetings. His off-the-wall comments and good-natured barbs ensure that there are always some laughs at these gatherings. But if you want him to get serious, you just have to set him to work to help a client. (Or bring up sports; that works, too.)