Friday, April 07, 2006

Tomorrow's Obituary Today!

The big winner of yesterday’s Global Traders Awards event in Barrie (see previous post) was Grimsby, Ont.'s Dennis Parass, who won the Gold award for export leadership in Central Ontario. His company, Handling Specialty Manufacturing Ltd., has become a world leader in custom-engineered hydraulic and mechanical lifting equipment.

It has built lifts for the major automakers as well as for some of the most prestigious stages in the world - including Las Vegas’s Bellagio Theater, the Neil Simon Theater in New York, and the National Institute of Arts (Taiwan).

I was struck by Parass’s down-to-earth approach to success. When speaking to the luncheon crowd yesderday, he extolled the virtues of “leadership from behind.” That means standing behind your employees and encouraging them to move forward, to explore, to take chances – urging them on to success and catching them if they fall.

I know a lot of big corporations that could benefit from some of Parass’s common-sense wisdom.

Parass also had some interesting advice when interviewed a few years ago by Niagara Business Magazine after being named Niagara’s Entrepreneur of the Decade in 2003. Here’s an excerpt from the story by Wendy Luce:

“To maintain perspective and a sense of mortality—as well as find long-term direction for the company—Parass recommends that anyone starting out in business first write his or her own obituary. “If you are going to die at 85, it’s a chance to put into writing and define the things that will be most important to you in your lifetime.

“By knowing who you are going to be as a person, you will know how you are going to handle that business,” says Parass.

For him, it means a business that is built on integrity, service, investment in staff and a management style that is “tough but fair”.

Parass says he has always tried to react in such a way that Handling Specialty’s success would be measured in a certain way. He has worked, as leader, to expand the foundation laid by [company founder] George Machand, and to build a company of integrity, innovation and strong from the inside out.

“I have tried to build something that is solid enough to withstand both success and difficult times,” Parass says. “And with a character that is respected and admired by its peers and competitors.”

Congratulations to a creative innovator with decency and wisdom to spare.

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