5 minutes with Wolfgang Gorner, MD at Hormann UK Ltd
Having worked with the German HQ on two separate executive roles for UK based acquisitions, Mark Goldsmith, Collingwood’s Head of Built Environment, was pleased to be approached to partner them again. Reporting to the German head office, the Managing Director would be responsible for a £60 million operation based in the East Midlands (€1bn global turnover building product group).
In the UK Hormann serve three main markets – the established house builder market, industrial end users and the growing after sales service sector. Having headhunted the market, Mark strongly recommended ex Rehau director Wolfgang Gorner. Now a year into the role, and with revenues 10% up, Mark met up with him. Here’s a snapshot of what they discussed:
Mark: So, a year into life at Hormann, Wolfgang. What has been your biggest challenge over the past year?
Wolfgang: Persuading Head Office that 10% growth would not be replicated in 2020!
2019 has proven to be an exceptional year for Industrial Products, but this has been achieved on the back of unprecedented growth in the warehousing sector. Our Domestic Market on the other hand has been very competitive and growth hard to find.
Mark: This is your first step into a Managing Director role, having previously been a Sales & Marketing Director at Rehau, Epwin and Sto. What advice can you give Sales Directors who are looking to make the move into an MD role, and are there any areas you have found to be a surprisingly challenging transition?
Wolfgang: The natural inclination is to gravitate to the areas you are familiar with, so it is vitally important that you are seen to be involved in all areas of the business. My monthly calendar has time allocated to all departments and a particular emphasis of mine has been developing the engagement and empowerment of the Senior Management Team.
Mark: As all products are supplied from Hormann’s head office in Germany, how have the ongoing Brexit issues affected trade and what contingency plans have you made?
Wolfgang: From a purely operational perspective, we invested in additional warehousing and stock over 12 months ago and our plan is to maintain this until at least the end of 2020. The biggest issue has been the knock to consumer confidence in the later stages of 2019 and the continued uncertainty over what the ultimate trade deal will look like. Hormann see the UK as strategically important and we feel confident that we are best placed to react to whatever is thrown at us.
Mark: The fenestration industry is going through an unpredictable time with figures pointing towards contraction but some of the larger systems providers and fabricators are citing good, sustainable growth. What’s your take on the market?
Wolfgang: The market continues to be challenging and whilst growth is achievable, it runs the risk of being achieved at a cost of margin. There has and there will continue to be consolidation within the market, and the danger is that some of the smaller operators get squeezed by the ever-hungry large suppliers. To highlight the unpredictability of the market though, you only need to look at the lack of confidence in booking space at the planned “FIT Show” in 2020. The organisers recently announced its cancellation this year due to lack of support.
Mark: I often find myself working on leadership roles for UK arms of international businesses. Clearly, you have built up solid communication channels with the board in Germany. What advice can you give to people inheriting similar lines of reporting on how to build trust and understanding when building a strategy?
Wolfgang: Whilst this is an International Business, it is a family business and very proud of its heritage and culture. To gain the Boards trust and understanding, you need to understand and live by their values. Our strategy in the UK is built on this heritage and culture, but there have been times in the last year when the answer has been No, and you just learn from that.