On the flip side, Irani said it's vital to also bring in new blood with fresh ideas. "I've heard the saying, 'To be great, you have to see greatness.' Very few people can achieve greatness without some sort of role model or seeing it in someone else," he said.
That led to the hirings of Bhavesh Shah as vice president of technology, and Gary Niernberger as vice president of purchasing.
Another lesson learned—one perhaps caused by high turnover—is that sometimes you have to give talented people a chance, even if in the traditional sense of career progression it may not seem like they are ready.
Claude Dupuis is one example at Lion, who was viewed as a potential director of EPDM.
"But we promoted him to the VP of sales, and he's really blossomed and (has) done fantastically well," Irani said.
And there's John Komidor, vice president of EPDM.
"He's a younger guy who, on the traditional trajectory, probably needed another five to six years to get into the position he is in," according to Irani. "But the potential is there, the capability is there. I took the chance to put him in that position and he's delivered on all of the things that we needed him to do."
That approach also is key to recruiting others to live out the next chapter of their careers at Lion Elastomers.
"If you've shown talent, potential, and where you're working today is more systematic about your progression, you can come to a company like Lion," Irani said. "We're willing to take a chance on talent, and you can take a chance on us to really bloom and grow into your full potential at the pace that you want to, as opposed to the pace of the standard corporate career ladder."
With this mix of internal and external talent, the Lion CEO said it's important to set the right tone for people to succeed.
"You have to create a culture that's cohesive, fun to work at and inclusive of different people's working style," Irani said. "Give people the right level of autonomy, but also the right level of support in their positions. And value what they bring to the table, and I've tried to do that."