Recruiting is a challenging process for everyone involved. Despite all of the testing, all of the interviewing and all of the reference checking (all recommended, mind you), there is still a high degree of subjectivity to the recruiting process and no one gets it right all of the time. There are ways of increasing your chances of success of course, and as a Toronto-based executive search firm, we like to think that we are part of the process of improving the odds.
Here are a few examples of situations that went very well and recruiting projects that had a substantial long-term positive effect for our clients.
1. Manufacturing Leader
More than ten years ago, we took on an assignment to find a Chief Operating Officer for a manufacturing plant outside of Toronto. After an extensive search and review of many capable candidates, the successful individual was found in Western Canada and relocated to the Toronto area. In the following years, the new COO proceeded to rebuild the company from the ground up, greatly increasing efficiency and profitability, and Kathbern was involved in recruiting new managers in many departments. The parent company, however, was under great financial stress and ultimately was forced to sell this particular plant to a U.S. private equity firm.
This was actually good news for the plant, as the new owner was eager to invest new capital to improve operations and supported the COO’s efforts to further increase efficiency. Kathbern was heavily involved again under this new ownership and the improvements continued.
The new owner had similar plants in the U.S. and this led to our COO being promoted to run a multi-plant operation out of the southern U.S. and now runs the European operations.
The success of the original COO hire impacted two different ownership groups and has provided value to several different groups of companies.
After owning the plant for about eight years, the U.S. private equity firm decided to exit that line of business and the plant was sold again, this time to a U.S. company in the same industry as the plant. Our involvement continues as needed and we take pride in being able to say that we have now served this particular plant under three separate ownership groups over a period of 13 years.
2. Financial Leader
Our client is a paper manufacturer. Ten years ago, due to the retirement of their long-term financial manager, they needed a Director of Finance with a very particular set of financial skill related to manufacturing, particularly cost accounting. The location is outside of Kingston, Ontario, so for many candidates, taking this position would also involve a relocation. Our recruiting search covered all of Southern Ontario and the successful candidate was ultimately found working at an agricultural manufacturing firm near Brockville. This individual accepted the role, relocated his family and continues in this role successfully ten years later.
3. Lean Manufacturing Leader
We were engaged to find an Operations Manager for a packaging manufacturer in Southwestern Ontario and, as a result of a search covering a wide range of different types of manufacturing operations, the person fitting our criteria was found and accepted the position. One of the key aspects of this person’s experience was his knowledge of implementing the LEAN manufacturing process (otherwise known as the Toyota Manufacturing System). Several years later, this individual caught the eye of senior executives who oversaw the global multi-plant operation of which the packaging company was part of. Significant progress had been made in implementing LEAN locally, and our candidate was promoted to assume an international “LEAN guru” role to carry the message globally and lead the charge for increased efficiency through LEAN implementations.
4. The Second in Command
In small to mid-sized owner-operated companies, a common concern of the owner is that they have no one to rely on who has the capability of standing in for them to assume some of the more senior level responsibilities and to cover in the case of temporary absence or vacations. Our long-term client in the electrical contracting industry had this problem and approached us about ten years ago to find someone who had the required industry experience and also the management experience to be able to run the business in the event of the owner’s absence. Our recruiting search for this specific skill and experience set led us to an individual who had operated his own electrical contracting business earlier in his career and was now working independently. He was an ideal fit and readily relocated to fill this role which now, ten years later, involves virtually running all aspects of the day-to-day business, thereby freeing up the owner to pursue new avenues of interest and to take vacations without having a concern for the health of the business in his absence.
5. The Technical Sales Leader
Our client is a manufacturer of specialized electronic test equipment used by electrical utilities across North America. They have a well-respected product, however, growth was slow due to a lack of activity focused on developing relationships with utilities unfamiliar with their product. A new approach was required, and we were engaged to find a technical sales leader who had the capability to successfully understand the needs of the industry, to learn the capabilities of the product and to carry the message as widely as possible to encourage orders from new clients. Within two years, the change in our client’s growth was dramatic. Month after month, new sales records were set and this had a positive effect on all aspects of the operation including the development of new products designed to respond to feedback received from clients.
If there is an overriding message in the above anecdotes, it is that a single strategic hire of the right person at the right time can have a dramatic effect on the long-term health and prosperity of any business.
Kathbern Management is a Toronto-based executive recruiter focused on working with organizations who are seeking to find and hire the key people who are critical for their success.
Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.