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“starting in the label room, straightening stacks and stacks of labels” that would be fed into automatic labeling machinery.
Meet the BFL Team Lourdes Sykes, Chief Information Officer Lourdes Sykes started at BFL Construction as an accountant. After two years, she moved to Seattle and trained in information technology. While in Seattle, she worked her way into an IT director position at a commercial real estate company. Five years later, Lourdes returned to Tucson as the IT manager for BFL. Recently she was promoted to chief information officer. Her work in systems analysis is complex and deadline driven – which is what she loves about the new position. As BFL President Garry Brav diversifies his business interests, the IT department is a key player in mastering the use and flow of information to execute new projects. When sister company Preferred Apartment Builders made plans to build the AVILLA brand – luxury rental homes in gated neighborhoods – Sykes got a new set of challenges. The design-implement phase required substantial testing to meet the precise requirements of the product. “It was a very different set up,” she said. “We had to analyze how to do it – and do it right the first time. We strive to constantly improve systems to create efficiency.” Sykes and her team study the information needs and business processes of a project, taking on a leadership role to develop better ways of integrating technology with business on that project. She’s enjoyed her move into management. “I love interacting with people and I have a passion for numbers. I interact with every person in the office. We are proactive in design and always look to see what’s next. I get out of my comfort zone – which I enjoy. These are the challenges I like. Technology and business practices will always be advancing and you have to keep up.” When there is an IT issue, Sykes and her team move quickly to help employees and subcontractors overcome obstacles. Systems are protected and security is the top priority. “We are proactive and put procedures in place to avoid problems.” The company cross-trains and has redundancies in place. “We have a Plan B,” she said. “Garry has a direction and vision for his company. He understands and supports new ideas,” Sykes said. “He is really into technology and efficiency. He sees the value of what I present to him.” While Brav embraces change and the use of technology, Sykes understands that his real focus is accurate up-to-date data – always.
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Quality Control from Start to Finish In the factory were giant kettles, up to 1,000 gallons each, which were used to prepare the different flavors of cheese – caraway, port, cheddar and Swiss and he learned quality control as he saw the equipment “perfectly cleaned overnight” by steam cleaning crews dressed in protective gear. It was very organized. “I saw levels of supervision (in place) to make sure everything was perfectly clean” for the next day’s production, Brav said. He also traveled to New York and New Jersey with his father to buy the specialized manufacturing equipment for the factory. “This was very complex and exacting equipment specifically designed for Dad. It enabled the processed cheese to be made in a variety of shapes, then move to packaging and labeling. It’s the kind of equipment you see in food factories of today and on ‘How It’s Made’ on the Science Channel.” Garry worked every aspect of the business, including operating forklifts and working the loading docks to get product into the distribution chain. The business grew and he fully expected to become part of the company. He was poised to take on the big companies like Kraft Foods after college. Then – just as he was nearing graduation – his dad sold the company to the Pet Milk Group. Off to Arizona Brav was educated at a private school: The Latin School of Chicago, but he chose not to attend an Ivy League college. That decision shaped his future. While working at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo the summer after graduating from high school, he met a fellow zoo worker, a University of Arizona junior. “I was always into cowboys growing up,” Brav said. “Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Gunsmoke. So just three days becontinued on page 170 >>> www.BizTucson.com
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