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Believe in Your Company and Your People Will Follow

By Brendan Byrnes - Apr 12, 2013 at 4:00PM

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Irwin Simon, the founder and CEO of Hain Celestial, discusses how being a founder-led company has led to huge success.

The following video segment is part of a full interview, in which The Motley Fool's Brendan Byrnes sits down with Irwin Simon, the founder and CEO of Hain Celestial (HAIN 0.56%), to take a closer look at the better-for-you food revolution. In this segment, they discuss how being founder-led has resulted in company growth.

Brendan Byrnes: Let's talk big picture, and one of the things that we usually like to see at The Fool is founder-led companies. We see that with Amazon, Whole Foods, Google with Larry Page coming back, but what are some advantages do you think of a founder running the company that he started and what are some maybe disadvantages, if you think there are any?

Irwin Simon: So No. 1 is I think it's important for a founder that's running a company to remember this here, and I get asked this all the time: "Did you believe in 1993, when you started this company, you would be what you are today?" Absolutely not, because who knew? I couldn't look into a crystal ball and say, "This is what I'm going to be." But the good news is, we are. And you stop, you pinch yourself, you're here. OK, so what are you doing now to double the size of the company? And I come back and live by certain rules that, No. 1, I am more equipped today and a better CEO in running this company at $2 billion than I probably was at $200 million because I'm surrounded by great people and could afford it. Can afford to go out there and hire great people. 

We're in an industry today that is much more well-known than it was back then. We have a great customer base. We have great brands, so No. 1, being a founder, what you've got to make sure you do is empower people around you and live by competency and loyalty. There are a lot of people that were there with you when you started the company that are very loyal, but may not have the competency to be part of a $2, $3 billion company and you've got to make those hard decisions. And that's some tough decisions, what you've got to do.

On the other hand, what happens sometimes, you're so passionate about it, you get close to it sometime, it's like, I have four children. This is one of my children. And you become very protective, but on the other hand, what you've got to be willing to do is back away when your people say, or when you're looking at it the wrong way, you've got to be willing to do that. I think that's what I have accepted and I say this here, there's no "I" in "team," but there's no "I" in "Hain." There is an "i" in "Hain," but it's all a team that's doing this. It's not Irwin as the founder, and on the other hand, the vision I have, we all buy into it. And we could have disagreements, which we have many times. A lot of times it's just not my vision, and how do we carry it? 

And you've got to have fun with what you're doing and I think what happens sometimes is this here: Founders don't have fun, they no longer -- the board, it won't allow them to do what they want to do, and you've seen where companies, like where Howard Schultz steps aside, you see other founders step aside, and a lot of times you lose that vision and you lose that strategy and you see what happens to the company. 

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Stocks Mentioned

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. Stock Quote
The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
HAIN
$24.91 (0.56%) $0.14

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