Not every tech company stands on the cutting edge ready to deliver the next big thing.
Some work behind the scenes helping other businesses stay up-to-date in a world where technology innovations seemingly advance at the speed of light.
One such company, Key Information Systems, was named Agoura Hills Business of the Year at Mayor Denis Weber’s State of the City address last month.
Lief Morin, 49, is the CEO of the Agoura Hills-based company that offers technological solutions to other businesses.
“We don’t invent things; we integrate. We put together things that are useful to help clients run and operate (their business),” Morin said. “If you’re a manufacturing company and you need the technology to support 1,000 users or 10,000 users, you’re not going to go to Fry’s and buy PCs to put that together.”
Morin started Key Information Systems, also known as KeyInfo, with three colleagues in 1999. They worked in an 1,100-square-foot office in Woodland Hills.
“We said, ‘Hey, we think we can do this’ and put some money in and started working with identifying solutions,” Morin said. “We brought that to market and made it happen. We don’t have an investor profile. It’s all been organic growth from 1999 onward.”
Now the company employs nearly 75 people. It is headquartered in Agoura Hills but has offices in San Francisco, Orange County, Arizona and Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
Morin said he started the company to provide technological solutions for midsize companies, to offer answers to the tech problems of day-to-day operations as businesses increase their size.
He equated using KeyInfo’s services to hiring a contractor to build a house.
“If you’re General Motors you have the resources to (build it yourself), but if you’re a mid-market company you’d hire a general contractor,” Morin said. “We provide the assembly point, and we have expertise into several manufacturing companies. We do that on our cloud services with hyper-scale organizations to help bring the best components together to provide the solution to the marketplace.”
In 2013 Key Information Systems bought another Agoura Hills tech company, IS West, which had an on-site data center and office space. Part of the purchase involved taking over IS West’s contract to manage the City of Agoura Hills government data.
“We just happened to have a solution for them, and we’re right next door, so it all works out,” Morin said. “We’ve got lots of business that comes from in and around the Conejo Valley.”
Morin said working in Agoura Hills has been a positive experience. KeyInfo is the only locally based company with a data center on its premises, he said, which has helped the company achieve its mission of client service.
Morin was born and raised in Venice, Calif. He attended Cal State Northridge for a few years but left before earning a degree.
“I was never built for the classic classroom type of Charlie Brown teacher learning style,” Morin said. “I’m a reader, an experiential learner, and that worked well for me. I have some great people that help me; they help the company do some amazing things.”
He said that when he’s not reading balance sheets and profit/ loss statements, he’s trying to plan for the company’s future. His current focus is developing KeyInfo’s cloud-based data services over the next five years. The company got involved in cloud technology in 2013, creating a division that has grown by leaps and bounds.
But Morin isn’t ready to let his guard down.
“It’s pretty cool to think we’ve been at this for 19 years. It’s been an awesome journey,” Morin said. “But the journey is always ahead of us. We have a lot of work yet to do, and that’s what we’re really about—trying to provide value to our clients.”