Steering the right course
Henry Demone (’76)
Henry Demone (’76) has been involved in three turnarounds in his life. “One was as a very young man working in the south of France, turning around a company there,” he says. “And I was involved in a well-known turnaround of National Sea Products that became High Liner Foods. And then I joined the Acadia Board of Governors at a time when someone I know and respect well, Paul Jewer (’94), was the Chair, and Ray Ivany was President and Vice-Chancellor. Acadia in those days was in a very challenging position. And under the leadership of Ray and Paul, I and many others helped to get Acadia back on track.”
His capacity to change direction and chart a better course was evident early. Although he’d scored high on engineering aptitude tests at Lunenburg High School and made the Dean’s List in his first year in engineering at Acadia, Demone realized he was not cut out to be an engineer. He switched to mathematics and took a variety of undergraduate courses including sociology, psychology, economics, German, and physics. “It was a classic liberal arts degree with a math major; I took a little bit of everything,” he says. “I had no clue what I wanted to do, but it turned out to be a very useful degree.”
The first few years of his career were with National Sea Products in Lunenburg and Swedish company Franz Witte AB. In 1984, Demone rejoined National Sea Products as its VP International. In 1989, he was appointed President at a time when the company faced heavy debts, money-losing operations and the catastrophic decline of the East Coast fishery. During his tenure, the company was transformed. In 1999, it became High Liner Foods, North America’s leading value-added seafood company with a track record of profitable growth and innovation.
Demone served as President and CEO from 1992 until 2015. He was Chairman for two more years, then Chairman and CEO again during a transition time, and Chairman until he retired in 2019.
However, retired does not mean idle. He is now President of Demone Capital Inc. and Chairman of a clean tech company called Eosense. He is also a Governor of Acadia University and a Director on the boards of Saputo Inc. and Emera Inc.
The winner of numerous awards including Atlantic Canada CEO of the Year (2012), Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser in the Maritime Provinces (2008) and Nova Scotia Male Sailor of the Year (2015), Demone epitomizes a well-rounded approach to life. He is a keen sailor and cyclist. With his wife, Rena, he walked the entire Camino de Santiago in northern Spain in 2019, a distance of about 800 kilometres.
Demone would like Canadians in general to be more generous to their universities.
“Your alma mater has a big impact on your life – what you learn, the people you meet, how you grow in those years. And these universities, in my case Acadia, they’re such an important part of people’s formative years. You want that to remain strong and healthy for future generations.”