Head of Technical - Profile Manufacturer


Collingwood were approached by this global, family owned window & door profile manufacturer, with sales verging on €1bn. Within the UK, they can boast to being the true market leader, viewed as a pioneering innovator. They have also gained notoriety for their huge investment into the UK manufacturing site and high staff retention rates, achieved despite the absence of strong succession planning strategies.


This role was to replace the current Head of Technical who had been looking to retire for some time and had for a while worked for the business on an interim basis. Collingwood's brief was to headhunt into the same market, meaning the circa 40 profile design companies based in the UK.


The MD highlighted he had, for a good period of time, enlisted the services of several “contingency” database recruiters to fill the role. Although he had agreed to meet with a number of candidates, none had fulfilled the brief.

Upon meeting all key stakeholders internally, key challenges for them (and us) were:

  • The need for someone to come in who, in a short period of time, could add value to their senior board in the UK
  • Nurture a mixed array of technical personnel, all at very different stages of their careers
  • Lead on technical projects and lead technical innovation; building confidence with other department leaders
  • Have commercial prowess to lead client visits and site tours
  • Not to be taken lightly, demonstrate all of the above, having gained it within a profile house

Due to the niche skill-sets required and the heavy research orientated work initially completed by Collingwood's consultant, Mark Goldsmith, it was agreed this was clearly going to be a national search.


Through a vigorous research led approach, Mark was able to share the “landscape” of manufacturers in the same space. Having gained names and direct numbers for the Technical Managers / Directors within these, he then engaged with them all via phone calls. Due to the extremely tight remit of the search, Collingwood were fortunate that our client was happy to play an active role in appointing someone. This led to Mark sharing frequent updates with the HR Manager and MD, in the form of Management Information reports and conference calls. This, it proved, was invaluable as it allowed both parties to form a realistic view on market conditions, barriers and refinements needed to the specification.


Having shared and recommended 5 individuals details with the client, Mark Goldsmith met all to assess against technical background and core competencies based around managerial requirements. Mark fed back that 2 of the 5 candidates clearly shone in terms skills, experience and cultural fit, advising the client to place a further candidate on hold.  The client met both, and quickly moved to second interview stage with their preferred candidate, however he was reluctant to relocate.  Fortunately, due to the regular feedback on market conditions, the client felt it right to offer their preferred choice, with the understanding that hotel arrangements could be made for a period of his working week.  Collingwood then managed the offer through to successful commencement of employment.


Having worked with Collingwood previously I did not hesitate to re-engage with them. We wanted to create two new board level appointments.  These were viewed as critical additions for us having never split the Marketing and Sales disciplines into two separate director roles. 

Collingwood took the time to take a full brief of the current situation, where I envisaged VEKA being without the appointments and what key improvements the investment would make. They also suggested a programme of executive coaching support to help transition the Directors into their new roles, de-risking the hire process and advancing the point at which the new Directors will contribute more value to my organisation than that which they consume from it.

One of Collingwood's main strengths was their ability to help shape the strategy for recruiting, based on the strengths I was looking for.  Post meeting they reflected that the Marketing Director was unlikely to come from building products given the brief.  Through Mark's understanding of the building products market, he was able to guide in the sub-sectors that would broaden the talent pool.  Sectors were then clearly outlined in their Strategy Document.  As it goes, both offered did not come from direct competition, or companies I would have envisaged.

Throughout the process of research, approach and interviewing myself and VEKA's Head of HR were kept abreast with challenges, opportunities and updates, both via the phone and face-to-face meetings.  This allowed for a collaborative "partnership" approach, especially when shaping Mark's thoughts to those he had interviewed against our initial brief.
The appointments were followed by a structured tripartite coaching programme involving myself, the Board Director and the Collingwood executive coach.  This executive transition coaching enabled the new Board members to get up to speed efficiently, helped them to integrate their previous experience into the new environment and reduced the risk of disruption to the business brought about through a change in leadership.

In short, I would have no hesitation in recommending Collingwood - in fact I already have!