Trustworthy advice Featured

8:00pm EDT October 28, 2006
 When Peter D. Dochinez talks about business, he focuses on why you can’t ever stop moving.

“As a company, you are either moving forward, or falling behind,” says Dochinez. “If you think you are maintaining, then you are falling behind, and you just haven’t realized it yet.”

Following that advice, the president and CEO of Trustmont Advisory Group Inc. has taken the company he and a partner started in 1986 and turned it into a thriving firm with 89 employees. Dochinez bought out his partner in 2000 and has grown Trustmont about 30 percent over the past three years. Smart Business spoke with Dochinez about how he builds builds unity, grows his company and deals with bad decisions.

What qualities does CEO need to be a good leader?
A passion for what they are doing. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, from my perspective, then I don’t understand how you can do a job in today’s environment, where it is so competitive.

If you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, I don’t know how, day-to-day, you can come in and give a 110 percent. You need to do that to succeed in today’s environment.

Second, the ability to listen and draw their conclusions from the people they surrounded themselves with. When you have somebody doing a function for two or three years, you sort of get blinders on when you are looking at something year after year, quarter after quarter, and you don’t see the forest for the trees.

Ultimately, when you get individuals that have been in a position long enough, coming in without any preconceived notions and looking at the function they have to do, they ultimately see the trees in the forest. If you are willing listen to that, not always are their ideas perfect or right, but they oftentimes give you insight as to a different approach to getting things accomplished. Many times, it’s a better way.

How do you handle making the wrong decision?
As a CEO, you are making decisions on a daily basis, and not all of those decisions are the right decisions. But, nonetheless, the decisions need to be made. They can’t wait until tomorrow or next week or two months from now when you have the opportunity to truly research the alternatives and the variables associated with that.

I have grown to a point where I simply learn from my mistakes. Oftentimes, they cost money. So be it. Everybody pays for their education in one way or another.

Whether it’s through time, money, mistakes or education, ultimately, in some way, shape or form, there is a cost to everything you learn. When I make a mistake, I learn from it, move on and hopefully don’t repeat it.

How do you build a team environment?
Everyone is not involved in every decision. Individuals, who I believe in the organization have a reason to have a knowledge regarding a specific topic, will be included in discussions.

A good CEO needs to be a good listener. Pay a lot of attention to what is being said, and ultimately, I am the board of directors and the CEO, and I make the decision. It’s a matter of listening to people who you believe have expertise or have practical experience with regard to the issue that is being discussed.

Pay attention to what they are saying and let that help you make the decision.

Ninety percent of the time I like to have other people involved. The difficulty is in that 5 to 10 percent of the time when my beliefs and opinions are 180 degrees different than what I’m hearing. Those are the most difficult decisions to make.

Because of the nature of the way we operate, where everybody’s income is, to a degree, dependent on how we do, there is a conflict between giving more credence to what I’m being told and what I believe is the right thing to do.

What are keys to growing a company?
Perseverance. I have witnessed so many people trying to start businesses over the years. Out of every 100 people who want to create or run a business, at the end of the day, five years later, there will probably be two or three that have met their goal.

Everybody else falls out along the way for some reason or another. They’re never willing to take those last two or three steps to get to where they need to get to.

No. 2 is surrounding yourself with good people. A good CEO does not necessarily have to be an expert in a lot of fields. They have to have good judgment, the ability to analyze information and make decisions based on those two factors.

How to reach: Trustmont Advisory Group Inc., (724) 468-5665 or