The three newest inductees into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame have roots in Newfoundland and branches that reach around the globe.
Fishing industry leader Bill Barry, chemicals company founder Darryl Fry, and Marport co-founder Karl Kenny were inducted Thursday night at a gala at the St. John’s Convention Centre in front of a sold-out crowd. Seven hundred people from the Newfoundland business community were on hand to provide standing ovations for each inductee after video biographies were played, featuring tributes from friends, colleagues and the competition.
Kenny, Marport Deep Sea Technologies’ president and CEO, led the development of the company’s software-centric sonar technology, used in underwater sensing and communications with applications in the defence, offshore, fisheries and ocean science industries. Kenny is a member of the board of directors and an entrepreneur mentor of Memorial University’s Genesis Centre.
Kenny called the honour humbling.
“You think about all the people who’ve been inducted into the hall of fame before me, you’re following in the footsteps of greatness,” he said. “To me, it’s a humbling experience. I’m tremendously honoured and very grateful.”
Kenny’s advice for young entrepreneurs was to be self-reliant.
“We’re living in really uncertain economic times right now,” he said, “and a lot of people think that other people are going to take care of them. Some people hope that others are going to create opportunity for them. And I say no. What we should be doing is creating opportunities for ourselves, and that’s what I encourage the youth of today to do themselves, and try to pursue. What can you do to create an opportunity for yourself? What can you do to look after yourself?”
Barry, chairman and CEO of the Corner Brook-based Barry Group, has 11 plants in Newfoundland in Labrador and more in New Brunswick. His family has been involved in fish harvesting since the 1830s, and four of his sons and one daughter are continuing in the family business, which Barry has expanded to include companies in Iceland as well as marketing outlets in China and Russia.
Looked up to other inductees
He said he has looked up to several previous hall of fame inductees in his own career, making him gratified to be entered into the hall. In his acceptance speech, he likewise touched on the importance of personal initiative, and said Western culture is increasingly one of entitlement, which is having disastrous financial consequences around the world.
“The sense of entitlement that we have today was created by government and politicians,” he said. “There’s two groups of people in politics: There’s the crowd that are in and the crowd that are out. The crowd that are in want to stay in, and the crowd that are out want to get in. And the way politics has been conducted in the Western world — not only Newfoundland or Canada, but the whole Western world since World War II — is when the electorate says, ‘We want something done in a certain direction,’ every politician steps up to the plate and says, ‘I’m going to promise to give that to you.’ So there’s an exchange of ‘I’ll vote for you if you give me such-and-such.’ The problem is we’re running successive deficits all over the world. This is all being financed by a tidal wave of debt that we can’t afford.”
Fry founded Cytec Industries in 1993 as a chemical business spinoff from American Cyanamid, where he started his career. Cytec develops and sells products to the aerospace, plastics and mining industries, among others. A former member of Fortis’ board of directors, Fry is the co-founder of the Fry Family Foundation.
While his career took him to the United States, he said, he has always made a point of returning to Newfoundland at least once a year, and said his Newfoundland roots are partly responsible for his success.
“We think differently. We act differently,” he said.
“I think Newfoundlanders tend to treat people with respect more than most folks do, and that’s what I endeavour to do at all levels. The union guy, the Wall Street guy or the person that replaced me, they all get the same respect, because I just look to people who do their best at what they do. I think that’s what got me to CEO.”