Managing Director, Building Products Manufacturer
Having successfully worked twice with the foreign owned head office, Collingwood was approached by this European leader within building products to appoint a Managing Director for one of their UK acquisitions.
The family-owned group has been trading since the 1930’s, employs 6,000 people, through 27 factories and generates revenues in excess of €1bn. Having traded in the UK since the 1970’s, this UK site has sales of c. £26m and employ 123 full-time staff, of which 74 work in production.
The parent company had invested £14m in this production facility in 2014, extending its production space to 12,000 square metres and significantly increasing its capacity. Continued manufacturing investment of between £2m to £3m per year is planned for this site to realise the overall ambition of driving an extra 250 units per day from its current 220.
An operationally led Managing Director took over the position in 2017, having taken over from a long established, commercially focused Managing Directly previously. However, due to family commitments, he chose to relocate overseas.
The outgoing Managing Director had put into place a productivity improvement plan to better drive efficiencies in production.
THE ROLE AND BUSINESS CHALLENGE
Many operatives and middle managers within the production team had been with the company for a long period of time. For this reason, together with it being a unionised environment, there was a need for a strong people centric leader who could quickly gain credibility and trust with the team to change their perception of what good looked like and raise the bar.
Senior management within the UK was a stable and well-respected close-knit team. With Collingwood’s Head of Building Products, Mark Goldsmith, meeting with all stakeholders to take the brief, it was very apparent that cultural fit of this new hire would be as equally important as their technical knowledge.
Added to the above, the plant was located in a semi-rural location, in the South West of England. Fortunately for Mark Goldsmith, he had good exposure to headhunting around the region; an area not blessed with an abundance of allied manufacturers. To compound this the incoming Managing Director needed exposure to working within a Germanic culture and would therefore appreciate the cultural nuances of the two countries.
In further compounding the challenge during the briefing meeting, it was Mark’s impression that the head office had underestimated salary brackets for the role. Mark felt that they were some 20-30% short of where the market had headed during the past five years.
Working with his team of experienced researchers, Mark identified the local landscape of associated building product manufacturers around the South West region. Once he drilled down to those who would appreciate the nuances of working with a German board it was confirmed to the client that this provided an extremely shallow pool of potential candidates to target. Given this, it was agreed that Collingwood would open up the search to a more generic engineering focused manufacturing arena (rather than just building products).
The research identified 52 target candidates to approach. In addition, Mark was also able to refer through his long-established network of senior building product contacts throughout the UK to identify potential candidates and gain referrals to recommended individuals located further afield. A social media strategy was developed, using attractive creative designs to share on twitter and Linked In to raise the profile of this opportunity.
Following initial telephone screening, a long list of nine candidates was delivered to the German client. Both parties collaboratively agreed to interview eight of these.
Following these competency-based interviews, four candidates were recommended to the client who came to the UK for first stage interviews. Two were invited back for third interviews and the preferred candidate being offered the role during a final meeting at the parent company’s headquarters.
As outlined above, there were several influences that made this a particularly challenging assignment to deliver. With Mark’s main stakeholders (two board members) being remote, understandably, they did not fully appreciate the limitations to the search upon providing the brief. Collaboration throughout the process was paramount to ensure the manufacturer gained the best possible solution.
Fortunately, the stakeholders understood this and agreed to hold regular updates with Mark as the headhunt unfolded. Presenting back on key data – limitations to location; salary demands etc. allowed both parties to agree progression.
Salary demands were not aligned to the original figures outlined by the stakeholders. Through sharing candidates at their anticipated level, together with others at the expected 30% increase, the clients expectations were realigned.
Mark managed the process, both pre and post offer.
Success was enjoyed despite such a tough brief.