Building Products & Construction Review ‘FY15/16

I would like to state for the record that I hate contrived blog postings by people supposedly reflecting on a project or year which reads like a glorified advert for their services. I have therefore tried to keep the below factual, albeit with a little bit of fist pumping; after all, I did experience a really enjoyable and fantastic year.

Reflecting on the key metrics from the last fiscal year is pretty straightforward:

  • My business unit, building products and construction, experienced significant growth - impressively we ended 124% of target, with Collingwood itself growing by 11%. 
  • This allowed me to open up a search for a recruiter to come under my wing. 
  • Most thrilling for me personally is that over half of my work came from repeat business.  
  • My main driver is to form valued relationships with prospective clients through intelligence-led, consultative headhunting. 
  • Disciplines, although in the main business critical, have remained broad, from operational/manufacturing to sales and marketing.

My year kicked off with a search for a European Sales Manager to join a cable management organisation. Two years ago we formed Collingwood's guiding principles. These set out to quantify key areas we would look for in working with new businesses. It all sounds rather artificial in a selling environment, but we believe it has made a huge difference. Prior to this change, consultants were happy to take on work with companies who had differing reputations, did not understand the full value of partnering a retained headhunter and were ultimately looking for us to purely fix a problem. This cable management firm is a prime example of how the guiding principles have worked. They had no exposure of working in Central Europe, but through patience and consulting with me, we recruited two people to front their expansion plans. Through building on our relationship, I am pleased to report they have become a valued client over the year.

The power of this “rule book” approach was further amplified when commissioned to work with an SME utility network engineering firm later in the year. Seeking to add to their board with the appointment of a Sales Director, they were not precious on someone coming from the competition. This again allowed me to work with them to provide the best solution. Not only was the Managing Director and Finance Director a pleasure to deal with, they listened to the intelligence I gathered from the market and consulted with me in refining the finished specification.

Other than proving myself to fledgeling clients, rather perversely, another area I love to be involved in is the hard to fill assignments. Which is fortunate, as this is a position I seem to find myself in a lot. Three positions stand out from the last fiscal year. Working with a large but niche window and door business, I was asked to recruit a Head of Technical position in October. Upon mapping out their market, I concluded there were only 40 such people in the country. To compound matters, the client is not based in London, Birmingham or within touching distance of a major motorway network. However, through successfully filling this position, I am proud to report I have just completed the search for their new Sales Director too.

The second example is a Furnace Manager position completed just before Christmas. The set location of the plant and niche skillset had made this role a challenge for our client but as a result of our collaborative working relationship I'm happy to report their new Furnace Manager has been in the position for the last 7 months. Lastly, in January, we were commissioned to search for a Managing Director for a family-owned joinery manufacturer based in Scotland. Although this proved a challenge again, I revelled in working directly with the owners to shape the best solution from those available in their landscape and location.

Three years ago (rightly in my opinion and heck this is my blog) Collingwood took the step of focussing consultants into industry specifics. As done for many years, I love working within the building material and construction field, so it was not an arduous task at all. Doug, Collingwood's Managing Director, wants each consultation to become thought leaders in their areas. Although it would be boastful to suggest I am that, I certainly enjoy reading and talking to people in my industry and enjoy commentating through Collingwood's various media channels.

Here’s to another great year for Collingwood and the building product/construction industry as a whole. With the inception of our leadership consultancy arm to the business, this will no doubt further strengthen our offering and partnership approach with clients.

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