After spending much of his young life on the road as part of a military family, Herb Dew, president of Human Technologies Inc. in Greenville, pictured a life in professional baseball or computer programming until a simple suggestion changed his career path. Dew soon realized he had a knack for helping others find their life’s work, founding HTI in 1991 and establishing his own livelihood in human resource solutions.
Where did you grow up?
I am an Army brat. I was born at Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Denver, Colo. I lived in Fort Knox, Kentucky; Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio; and in Boston. I moved to Boston when I was young to stay with my grandfather while my father was in Korea.
Did you have any mentors growing up?
Both my father and my grandfather are my mentors. Their work ethic was exceptional and my grandfather taught me to win and be successful with heart and integrity. Sometimes in business you have to be careful to not be cutthroat and make brutal decisions.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be a professional baseball player, and I actually tried out for the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. After trying out, I knew I was not going to play pro ball.
What was your first job?
A friend of mine’s father owns several thousand acres down in South Georgia, so one summer I followed a pine straw baler around. I had to lift pine straw bales and stack them on the back of a truck. It was a valuable experience because it taught what I didn’t want to do. I wanted to get an education, so I wasn’t baling pine straw the rest of my life.
What inspired you to go into this field and start this company?
I got a degree in computer science from Augusta State, so I was looking for a programming job. While on an interview with an IT director, he told me I needed to be in sales and work with people. He gave me the name of a company that was in staffing, and I applied with them and they gave me a job as a recruiter. I loved it and it was a fun job. I worked there for 15 years until getting the itch to do something on my own. I wanted to start a staffing company that was more of a human resource company, so I started HTI back in 1999.
What would a co-worker say about working with you?
I think they would say I am fun and I love sports. I think they would also say that you could be great and have fun.
What is your greatest strength, weakness and character trait?
My greatest strength is that I am willing to take risks. My greatest weakness is that I become bored easy, and my greatest character trait is that I am honest.
What has been your best business decision?
Where I showed my greatest strength and decision-making skills was in working through the recession in 2008 and 2009. Half of our industry went out of business, but we kept selling, focused on a goal, and pushing our name out there.
How do you motivate?
If you hire good people and you let them know they will not be fired for making a mistake, that is what gets people motivated.
What advice would you give a new boss?
Be available and willing to give up control, learn to delegate responsibility, and don’t be a micro-manager.
What, if anything, keeps you up at night?
The company has gotten so big now that if I make a poor decision it could affect someone’s job. I worry about making a decision that would result in me having to lay someone off.
What was a game-changing moment in your career?
As a young man, I had an issue with someone I worked for at a staffing company before HTI. I lost my temper and tipped a table over in his office and cussed. The way he handled that with me changed me and taught me humility. He had such an impact on my life as a leader.
What do you still need to learn about your business?
We’ve gone from a small business to a large business, so I still need to learn a lot about running a bigger company.
What are some of Greenville’s most underutilized assets?
I think the lack of skilled labor is an issue, and Greenville needs to start building trade and craft skills again.
What is your idea of work-life balance?
I think it is important to take time, because you are more productive and creative if you are refreshed. The effective balance of your work life and personal life will bring a better person into your job.
Who is the person outside of your professional circle with the most influence on your work?
What is your favorite app on your phone or tablet?
What is your worst habit?
My worst habit is that I am TV junkie.
What are you a snob about?
I am a shoe snob.
Where do you get your local and national news?
I read a lot of different things, including the Wall Street Journal and all of the local publications.
What is your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that something would happen to me before my kids are grown.
If you could change places with someone, who would it be and why?
I would enjoy the lifestyle of a pro golfer.