Meet David “DJ” Jackson, our Director of Technology based out of our Memphis, TN office. He started with LSI as a new engineering graduate in 1991. For 30 years and counting, DJ has been an essential part of LSI’s success! The three words that we would use to describe DJ are steadfast, intelligent, and trustworthy. Read our latest Employee Spotlight — 20 Questions below.
We recently celebrated your 30th anniversary as an LSI employee. Congratulations! What can you tell us about your first few months at LSI back in 1991?
The office at that time was located a couple of miles away from our current Memphis campus. It was a small operation of about 13 employees. I was paired up with a couple of senior engineers and was given tasks to perform on day one. I felt like I was drinking from a fire hose because it was “jump in and get to work!”
What was your role when you started at LSI, and what is your role today?
I was the first engineer hired immediately after college graduation. I had some experience because I co-oped in manufacturing but hadn’t worked with control systems. My first job was programming a PLC and creating graphics on an old Modicon WYSIWYG device for an extruder. Today I am the Director of Technology, and my job is to work with our technical leaders. I’m very involved in our documentation tools and processes to ensure that the next generation of leaders have what they need to succeed.
Where did you go to college?
I graduated with an Electrical and Computer Engineering degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but I took my pre-engineering at the University of TN in Martin, TN.
What industries have you been involved in?
Most of my career has been oriented around process control in the specialty chemical, and food and beverage industries. Within food and bev, the majority of my experience is with Brewing and Distilling. I’ve also worked on energy and discrete manufacturing projects.
What is your area of expertise?
Defining process modifications, coordinating with the process mechanical engineers, controls engineers, and operations to make sure we get the definition right on our client projects. Essentially it’s asking all the “why questions” and then working with the team to make it happen.
What platforms are you familiar with?
Emerson DeltaV, Modicon 984, Allen-Bradley (Rockwell Automation), Bailey Net90, and ABB DCS
What has been your favorite project at LSI?
We did a project at a specialty chemical plant near Beaumont, TX, about ten years ago. In one week, we scoped out the entire control system modernization plan and provided an estimate for their capital budget. That same year, it was approved, and we implemented the project exactly as it was scoped over the next two years.
What is your proudest moment at LSI?
At one point in time, a brewery project that we performed was the largest DeltaV installation in the world. Of course, it’s not anymore, but it was pretty cool to be a part of the system architecture and design of something that significant.
What sets LSI apart as an employer?
LSI is very caring and family-oriented. They also provide excellent mentoring opportunities to help people in the direction they want to go with their careers.
What sets LSI apart as a system integrator?
From my first day at LSI, customer need and focus have always been job one. We didn’t need a committee to decide what was in the customer’s best interest.
What are three ways or words that you would use to describe LSI?
Family-oriented, culture-driven, and professional.
What is one thing that clients may not know about LSI that you would like to share?
We’ve tremendously expanded our beverage process control group and the depth of projects we can support. For example, we now provide design, fabrication, and installation of mix-proof valve manifolds.
Long-term client relationships are a hallmark of LSI. Why is that?
It starts with our culture. We’ve always been relationship-focused and understand that it takes a long time to become proficient with a client. Knowing their operation and filling the gaps with minimal client direction builds confidence and trust. That level of knowledge also helps our clients deal with attrition and loss of tribal knowledge from staff retirements—something that is happening a lot right now.
How has LSI helped you in your career development?
LSI supported me in anything that I wanted to learn. So I’ve had a lot of on-the-job and formal training.
What advice do you have for prospective LSI candidates?
If you are a new graduate, continue to invest in yourself early in your career. You have a lot of opportunities to increase your knowledge at LSI. In addition, LSI offers an environment that is more accommodating to your personal and family life than the big corporations do.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Maybe it’s my degree, but I still like to tinker with computers and stay brushed up on emerging technologies.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
My wife and I enjoy the Smoky Mountains or a beach.
Your favorite sports team?
Tennessee Vols, let’s not forget about the GOAT, Peyton Manning. College sports are my favorite, but I also follow the Denver Broncos.
Apple iOS or Android?
Apple iOS, but I’m intrigued with Android.
Any random facts about yourself that you could share with us? (family, hobbies, etc.)
I always attend at least one football game in Knoxville each year.
- I love dove hunting, and on opening day, if you’re looking for me, that’s what I’m doing.
- I’ve been a Certified Memphis In May BBQ judge since 1994.