General Manager – Building Product Manufacturer – Social Housing

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Having worked with the parent business previously, Collingwood were approached to recruit a newly created General Manager role for a manufacturing business they had acquired in 2017. Strategically, this gave the already market leading manufacturer increased presence throughout the western side of Scotland.

Since being acquired, this individual business had grown by nearly 50%. The building materials manufactured and installed primarily serve the social housing and house builder markets (via local authorities and main contractors).  Projected growth and scaling of the business was high.



This role became available due to the current Operations Director relocating.  Rather than replacing his role, the parent business decided to invest in a broader, all-encompassing General Manager. Reporting into the parent company’s Managing Director, this person was to inherit a team of around 60, including three direct reports: a Business Development Manager, Production Manager, and a Contracts Manager (managing the installation side).

The headline requirement for this position was to take ownership of the day-to-day management of the business and to own the delivery and future shaping of the overall strategy. They would need to be comfortable fronting discussions with main stakeholders throughout this business' client portfolio; leading on contract negotiations and disputes were necessary.  Given the latter requirement, exposure to managing local authority and / or social housing clients was essential.

With the forecasted continued growth, this person required exposure to managing capital expeditor projects, and scaling workforces. They would take financial, procurement and business planning control including ownership of profit & loss.

This person needed experience of leading day-to-day management of HR issues. Developing a more defined individual company culture, inspiring the workforce in the delivery of the company’s strategy and ownership of development paths for the employees were key. 



Upon taking the brief up at their Scottish head office, it was evident to Collingwood’s Head of Building Products, Mark Goldsmith, that this was a unique brief – a blend of skills across production, commercial, and financial dictated that a perfect mix was unlikely to exist.  Fortunately, both parent company’s Joint Managing Directors were aware of this and open to working in a consultative manner to home in on local talent.

Prior to the acquisition, the business was council owned and a portion of the workforce were tupe’d across. This had resulted in a slightly more militant style of leadership.  Strong, yet collaborative leadership style was going to be essential in this person.

Added to the above, although not completely remote, the production facility was not close to the major cities of Scotland. This would limit the talent pool.



Given the uniqueness to this search, early into the researching phase, Mark shared five profiles of candidates with varying degrees of the skills required.  This ensured both Mark and the client’s stakeholders were aligned and able to refine the brief.

During this first update, Mark was also able to share the current “landscape” of required talent from the relevant backgrounds.  This led to 126 potential candidates to approach.

Mark shared Collingwood’s online client portal throughout the process providing an overview of each stage, allowing both the search and expectations to stay on track. This further permitted both parties to form a realistic view of market conditions, barriers and any refinements needed to the specification.



In summary, the following process took place:

Potential candidates identified following initial research undertaken


Number of candidates engaged with 


Targeted candidates CV’s received


Candidates interviewed by Mark Goldsmith


Candidates interviewed by client (and final interviewed)

3 (3)

Candidate offered          



Although the mix of skills and experience required was broad and varied, the stakeholders were not concerned about specific product and / or service exposure.  This allowed Mark to share candidates with social housing experience from a variety of backgrounds.  Ultimately, this led the stakeholders offering the role to a leader from within hard facility management sector.


The client wrote the following testimonial about his experience of working with Mark and Collingwood:

"I would have no hesitation in recommending Collingwood Search to any company looking to recruit senior personnel for their organisation.

Right from our first conversation, through the engagement process, finalising job specifications, reviewing potential candidates and so forth, Mark and Callum provided excellent input, with some great suggestions and were diligent and professional throughout.

The candidates taken forward to interview were all top quality individuals, who met the brief well and we had some difficult decisions to make when deciding on who to appoint to what role.

The bottom line is we wouldn’t have found the key people we needed for our businesses without Collingwood Search and their expertise."

About the author
Mark Goldsmith
min read

With 23 years of recruitment experience under his belt, Mark has spent the last 19 focused on Building Products & Construction

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Mark Goldsmith

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