In conversation with Mark Surrette, President
Henry Demone was just 35 when he took over the reins of National Sea Products in 1989. At the time, the company was mired in debt, a situation that worsened in the early 90s as the federal government cut fishing quotas, effectively gutting the company’s harvesting business. Possessed with considerable self-confidence, and supported by shareholders, Demone shifted the company’s focus to the lucrative frozen food market. His decision paid off handsomely: in 1994, National Sea Products turned a profit for the first time in seven years. Now known as High Liner, it has become one of North America’s largest marketers of prepared frozen seafood products. Demone recently chatted with Mark Surrette about the epiphany that helped turn the company around, his experience climbing Kilimanjaro and why we should embrace the success of Atlantic Canada’s cities.
My father and grandfather were fishing captains and vessel owners. They were leaders every day of their lives – working with their crews, selling fish to National Sea Products. They weren’t home much, but when they were, I followed them around the wharves, and got to see what they did, so I was immersed in leadership from an early age.
Great leaders level out the emotions in an organization. In down times, be positive and inspirational - celebrating small successes and building up confidence. When things are going well, dampen the enthusiasm a bit and encourage people to look for risks.