Managing Director, Building Materials Manufacturer

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Part of a wider group our client has been in operation over 50 years. They have collective sales of over €1bn, through 20 country locations, employing 5000 employees.

The products are widely used in residential and commercial refurbishment projects.

In 2018, the group invested in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the East Midlands to support future growth. The UK continues growth of 10% year-on-year.

With this investment, together with the backing of a genuinely globally leading brand, the business required a Managing Director to lead the UK’s growth plan.



Reporting to the overseas Group CEO, the UK business required a leader with a strong blend of building product related commercial ownership, together with the need to understand a manufacturing environment. 

With the group investing millions of euros in getting this new site operational the message was clear – we now expect return from the UK market, much like we’ve enjoyed in other countries.

The challenge for this incoming person would be turning and inspiring a team of people who had lacked strong leadership and direction over the past four years.  The ability to create a culture of curiosity and innovation to provide customers with the solutions they need was going to be the key skill. This person’s ability to develop a strong discipline and structure within the business, and in doing so drive the team to adopt new ways of working, was the top priority.

In short, the specification set was to find a leader with a proven background in driving profitable business expansion in a related Building Products environment, having led a multi-disciplined team including manufacturing, engineering, supply chain, sales and marketing.



Following a thorough research approach and utilising Collingwood’s Head of Building Products, Mark Goldsmith’s,  existing network, he was able to share the present “landscape” of required talent. This led to 51 potential candidates to approach, who Mark engaged with directly.

Collaboration and clear communication lines with the main stakeholder is always key to ensure success whilst working on such briefs.  This proved to be the case in this search.

During the early part of this search, Mark shared four sample candidates who had shown an interest.  Additionally, he shared Collingwood’s online client portal with the client, thus providing a detailed overview of the talent pool local to this manufacturers site.  The Group CEO highlighted one of the four sample candidates as being of particular interest.  However, this one person was slightly off specification, as they did not have the initially stated strength of leading a manufacturing plant exposure.  Based on their discussion and this feedback, Mark highlighted that there was someone from within his Building Materials network who would be ideal for the role, who was actively looking and competitively priced against others identified.

Upon approaching this individual and gaining his interest, both the CEO and Mark agreed to hold off on other interested parties, whilst the CEO took him through their interview process.

Based on the Groups level of interest in this one individual, combined with the intelligence shared about the regional market, the CEO moved quickly to secure the individual, recognising he would not be on the market for long.

There are many Executive Search firms who over rely on their networks to fill jobs.  For any business who engages a Search company it is essential that you gain maximum value, meaning you should not simply rely on these networks to find the best possible solution. However, Mark was able to back up his claim that the successful candidate  was the best solution, based on the sharing of key data from the early part of the headhunt. 

Key take outs from this assignment, both in terms of best practice and why it ultimately led to success, include:

  • With the overseas based Group CEO not fully understanding what the UK landscape looking like, Mark was able to communicate the limitations
  • The stakeholders only suspecting that they knew a salary banding for this position. Mark fed back in terms of the market conditions.  Additionally, he was able to provide examples of the differing levels of ability based on low to high salary demands from within the broad Building Materials market
  • Unfortunately, utopia rarely exists. Mark had worked on a similar brief to that of what was originally set by the Group CEO, around a year ago. From this previous Managing Director search, Mark knew that a blend of commercial and operational leaders was going to be a tough ask.  Pleasingly, the Group CEO worked with Mark in terms of the intelligence that he gained, and further shaped what was essential in this person’s experience and knowledge
About the author
Mark Goldsmith
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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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