Raymond J. De Hont

When Raymond J. De Hont joined Met-Pro Corp., the general managers never got together to discuss anything. Now, as chairman,
president and CEO of the company, De Hont meets with his general managers several times a year to talk about the company’s vision
and direction. Those managers are then tasked with relaying information to each of their divisions of the company, which manufactures
equipment for pollution control, product recovery and fluid handling. De Hont’s commitment to communication has helped Met-Pro
achieve two-year growth, from $75 million to $91 million from 2004 to 2006. Smart Business spoke with De Hont about how to land
your next star employee and why it doesn’t pay to be cocky.

Resist the temptation to do it yourself. When I
came out of college, I was pretty confident — even cocky. I figured I could do
everything and do it better than everyone else.

As a result, I tried to do everything. I
wanted to get involved and do everything, period. My challenge was learning
how to delegate and let go.

Some people think they delegate by
telling somebody to do something, and
then they’re constantly following them
and looking over their shoulder. That
was my hardest challenge.

When I was vice president and general
manager of a couple divisions here at
Met-Pro, I moved up into corporate and I
had to replace myself. The guy who had
to replace me had the toughest job in the
company, because I knew those businesses.

If I hadn’t learned years ago how to delegate, I may have stunted his growth and
his ability to do what I needed him to do
with those divisions. I was able to stand
back and let him run his business, rather
than micromanage or tell him how to run
his business. We both benefited from that.

There were times when he called me
on the phone, and I could have gave him
a quick answer and I’d say, ‘No, go back
and think about it. Then come back to
me and tell me what you think. I’ll let
you know if you’re walking off a cliff.’

He’s done a good job because of it.
You’ve got to let go. If you move somebody into a new position, you’ve got to
let them do their job. That’s what you
hired them for, and that’s what you told
them you were going to let them do. So
you’ve got to let them do it, or you’re
going to lose that person.

Ask for opinions and mean it. You have to listen; you have to be able to let somebody
take you on. Let them question you, and
question why does it have to be this way?

You have to be flexible enough to
change. If you’re just pounding your
thoughts and ideas onto them, it’s not
going to work. They have to take owner-

ship, because I’m not good enough or
smart enough by myself to do it. I need
these people in order to do what we feel
the company needs to do. They have to
buy in and take ownership of this thing.
If they don’t, it’s doomed for failure.

The key is to be flexible enough, be
open-minded enough and allow them to
have their say. When they’re right, admit
they’re right, when you’re wrong, admit
you’re wrong. Then, do what’s best for
the company. But if you get them to buy
in, they can take it down to their organizations and hopefully get their people to
buy in, too. If people don’t buy in, you
can have the best plan in world — it’s not
going to work.

Give authority along with responsibility. I have
an assistant right now, and I laid out for him
the different things he needs to do. I don’t
micromanage him. He has certain responsibilities and the authority to do the job, and
I don’t try to circumvent that authority.

You can give responsibility to somebody, but that responsibility still sits with
you as the CEO. But you can give away
the authority to make decisions, and
that’s what I do. If you work for me and I
say this is what I need you to do, I will
give you the authority to make that decision. If you make a mistake, that’s OK.

I surround myself with good people,

and I allow them to make decisions at
the level they are at, accordingly. I can’t
make the decision for everybody.

Land — and keep — great employees by thinking like a job candidate. We’ve all been
through an interview. You’re looking at
the long term as far as what potential
exists for him or her, and you have to be
able to articulate it.

You have to have either a company
with a good track record or a plan to
become successful that you can articulate to a candidate. Once you’ve convinced them there is potential for job
growth and that it fits their need, you
need to offer a fair compensation and
benefits package.

Once they accept your offer, you need
to make sure their job is what you
described during the interview. The
worst thing you could do is have an
interview with someone, describe the
job, describe the potential, and they
come on board and none of that’s true.
You’re going to lose that person almost
immediately. So, you have to make sure
the job is what you described.

When in doubt, ask. My first review out of
college, my manager said to me, ‘You ask
a hell of a lot of questions!’ And I said,
‘Yeah, because I want to learn.’

Too many people are afraid to question
things. When I came to Met-Pro, I came
from the air pollution control side of the
business. I was hired to run a pump company, which I knew nothing about. As a
result, it was easy for me to question things.

The one thing I hate is when I would
ask somebody why we do it this way and
they say because we always have done it
this way, instead of saying, ‘What’s the
best way to do it?’

The greatest lesson is, ‘Ask questions.’
Don’t believe you have all the facts. Ask
the question. Don’t assume or be complacent. Even though things are going
well, ask, ‘Can we do it better?’

HOW TO REACH: Met-Pro Corp., (215) 723-6751 or