Operations Director - Plastic Recycling (UPVC windows & doors)


This recycling business is part of a wider Group that Collingwood, and Head of Building Products - Mark Goldsmith, had worked with historically. Created in the 1960’s global sales equate to €1.25bn, through 19 country locations, collectively employing 5000 employees.

With the product being widely used in residential and commercial refurbishment projects, the waste taken out can be recycled; something that the Group have been successfully doing across Central Europe of many years.

In the 1990’s the Group had acquired a now tired, under resourced factory that was no longer fit for purpose.  They therefore recently approved a new, state-of-the-art multi-million pound site in Northamptonshire. Having spent the last three years researching the investment, the focus was on this new site being fully operational by the second half of 2018, with full capability realised in 2020.  
The overarching aim was to make this the flagship site for the recycling arm globally, emulating parts of two plants in Central Europe (collectively operating at around 50,000 tonnes per year). The aim is to create a site that can cope with 35,000 tonnes per annum, working a 24/7 operation.


The vast majority of the team were not willing to relocate, and with this new site incorporating state-of-the-art equipment, there was a need to bring in an Operations and Technical Director who could front the setting up and running of this operation. The incoming director would take day-to-day control of moving some machinery from the existing site; manage full installation and influence on what equipment needed to be bought.  

The remit to which Collingwood was working to was fairly straight forward.  Mark Goldsmith was tasked to research and headhunt strong Operation Directors working within a recycling environment.

Due to this being a brand new site it was imperative this person was a strong leader and problem solver. They would have to have a background of leading, motivating and inspiring a new team to get the best possible level of productivity.


Put simply, the challenge presenting the client and Collingwood was attracting Operation Directors with the aforementioned experience, but who had led the setting up of new plants also.  In addition, head office required someone who they could invest in, with the aim of further developing this individual as the UK arm grew to full capacity.

Furthermore, with this new site purchased and construction of the plant underway, the Central European COO wanted to secure someone within a four week window.


Along with Collingwood creating adverts and a social media campaign, Mark Goldsmith researched recycling plants throughout a 50 mile radius of this clients Midlands base.  From these he name gathered 48 Operation Directors to approach.

Given the size of this challenge to the candidate, rather surprisingly, Mark attracted eight candidates who, on paper, looked worthy of meeting to assess in full.

From this, Mark recommended five who not only satisfied the above remit, but who also fitted into the Group culture from a “softer skills” perspective.  Upon meeting these five, the client asked for two to come back and meet with the group COO (the UK MD was impressed with three but had doubts over one candidates motivation to relocate). 

Upon completing a stringent cross examination of the two preferred candidates, the COO offered the preferred candidate with Mark managing the offer and notice period process through to start date.


“Mark was very thorough in his approach with recruiting senior team members for our business. In the end we were able to recruit 2 new senior staff who report direct to the board thanks to his efforts. All turned out rather well and many thanks for all your efforts. Highly recommended”


A year into this director joining, the new site will be fully operational by the deadline of July 2020 and within budget. 

It has been a huge learning curve for the Operations Director, with him citing the fact that he is new to the uPVC extrusion process and is the most senior person on the operational side within the UK. He has restructured operationally how the business is run and brought in a number of his own team. The silo is now fully operational and working well, with the first of two extrusion lines live.