Sales Director - Profile Manufacturer


Collingwood had worked successfully with this global, €1billion turnover, family-owned window and door profile manufacturer previously before being asked to recruit a new Sales Director position for them. Within the UK, our client can boast of being the genuine market leader and is viewed as a pioneering innovator. They’ve also gained recognition for their huge investment into their UK manufacturing site and high staff retention rates.


The existing Sales & Marketing Director was moving on after 20 years in the role and the MD wanted to use the opportunity for a change of  strategy.  Through consultation with both his senior team and Collingwood, it was decided to split the sales and marketing functions into two directorship roles (see separate Marketing Director case study). 

Collingwood’s brief was to source a Sales Director with a strong presence who would inspire, mentor and coach the sales teams, whilst at the same time develop and drive strategy. 


For many years the manufacturer had a strong hold on the commercial / trade market and as a result, their residential arm had been neglected slightly. 

The onus on the new Sales Director was to be placed on driving sales from the domestic market and also to develop a more collaborative partnership with trade clients.  Coupled with this, it was agreed that the two new executives would take dual ownership of the strategy to grow the business 6% in FY 17/18.

Cultural fit and building product knowledge was of utmost importance, as was gravitas and proven experience of operating within both the trade and residential marketplaces. 

The candidate’s location and a specific building product background were not major prerequisites.  This allowed Collingwood to undertake an extensive target mapping for the role.


Through a detailed research approach and contact with his existing network, Mark Goldsmith was able to share the “landscape” of manufacturers. This led to an astonishing 144 potential candidates to approach who Mark engaged with directly, having gained names and direct telephone numbers.

Due to the numbers involved it was imperative that regular updates were provided to both the client's HR Manager and the MD.  Management information reports and conference calls were exchanged weekly to keep both the search and expectations on track. This was invaluable as it allowed both parties to form a realistic view of market conditions, barriers and any refinements needed to be made to the specification.


From the 144 headhunted potential candidates approached 46 forwarded CVs.  Mark rejected 36 of these. From the 10 individuals, he met with to assess, Mark recommended 5 to the client.  These included 2 who he felt did not fit the brief exactly, but culturally and strategically offered something unique for the client to consider.  There were 3 second interviews, with 2 going to a third and final interview stage. 

It is important to highlight that the candidate who was eventually appointed to the role was initially rejected at longlist stage by the client.  Mark’s knowledge of the available candidate market and previous dealings with the chosen candidate meant he was able to challenge the rejection decision and recommend a meeting.  Mark had worked with the candidate previously and recognised he would not only fit expectations on the competency skills, but his personality and the cultural fit was also strongly aligned.


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!