5 Questions with Lissa Barry, Delta Systems CEO & President

For more than 45 years, Delta Systems has best been known for designing and manufacturing switches, displays and electronic controls for the outdoor power equipment industry (think tractors, mowers, leaf blowers). CEO and president Lissa Barry has been with the company for more than 20 years, and has been hard at work pushing the industry into the 21st century.

Chief Executive sat down with Barry to talk about her goals as CEO in the year ahead, how Delta Systems is evolving to meet client needs, and why being in manufacturing is a big plus in the safety equipment industry.

Q: How long have you been CEO at Delta Systems?

A: I’ve been CEO for 11 years. It was my father-in-law’s company, and I’ve been on the board for 20-plus years, and when we moved out to Cleveland I became president soon after, and CEO in 2007.

“I always want to be a better leader and build a better culture, and to make Delta a destination employer.”

Q: How have your customer’s needs evolved in recent years and how has Delta System changed to meet those needs?

A: We did a voice of the customer and found out that we needed the next generation of our products. The riding lawnmower industry really wasn’t in the 20th century, and recently we have been introducing products to take it into the 21st century. We are the major supplier of components, displays and switches for the industry, so that’s fortunate. We needed to introduce new and more sophisticated parts, and we’re doing that now.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges your company is facing as a manufacturer?

A: I don’t know if it’s a challenge or a plus, because we’re vertically integrated, so when it comes in we get it done. We have a good handle on the timeline, we know what we need to outsource and what we need to keep in. I think it’s a benefit, because when making safety products it’s good to have it all in-house. We know when the product leaves Delta, we have full faith that it’s going to act as it should. We do 100% testing on anything safety related, so it’s a plus to have it under our control.

Q: What are your top goals as a CEO in 2018?

A: I always want to be a better leader and build a better culture, and to make Delta a destination employer. Certainly, we have to figure out how we can upskill, and make sure that we keep the A-players and entice A-players to come. I’m doing a lot with a vocational school and a local high school to work on a partnership between Delta the manufacturer and their STEM programs.

Q: What key initiatives are you focusing on in the next few years?

A: We have a tech tractor out now that has six new, next generation parts and we are hosting industry ride-and-drives. For us, the new product launch and who’s going to buy it first and how it will be introduced is very exciting.

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Patrick Gorman

Patrick Gorman is managing editor at Chief Executive magazine, based in Stamford, CT. His business journalism background includes 12 years covering the C-level marketing and technology spaces.