Helbling Insight

Search Case Study: Executive Chairman & Chief Operating Officer

Fossil fuel site

Helbling represented a private equity-owned contractor that serves state and federal infrastructure companies and specializes in engineering, procurement, construction, and design-build services for diverse markets. The Chief Operating Officer role was created to provide support to the organization in preparation for an eventual sale. We secured an individual who had a unique blend of skills and talent, which prompted our client to elevate the role to Executive Chairman to oversee all subsidiary companies within the company’s portfolio.

Challenge

Chief Operating Officer

Helbling was referred by a long-term client to a private equity-owned contractor that serves state and federal infrastructure companies and specializes in engineering, procurement, construction, and design-build services for diverse markets that include petrochemical, pharmaceutical, fossil fuel, and renewable energy.

The Chief Operating Officer (COO) role was created to provide support to the organization in preparation for an eventual sale. The COO would be responsible for expanding the business into new geographies and vertical sectors over a three to five year period, and serve as an integral member of the core executive team.  He/she would be heavily involved in the development and implementation of policies and strategic initiatives for the Company, reporting directly to the President & Chief Executive Officer of its parent company.  This individual would be expected to be highly collaborative and communicate regularly with the Board of Directors.

The new COO would need to assume full responsibility for the performance and overall operations of all business units, and to develop and execute business plans to accomplish the Company’s goals and objectives.  Additional responsibilities would include enhancing project delivery and customer service, providing sales and marketing support, and staffing and employee development, while also developing more efficient operating processes and procedures.  

Overall, our client sought a highly-talented professional who would embody their corporate values of integrity, safety, innovation, flexibility, financial strength, performance, and teamwork.

Our Strategy

Working closely with the Company’s President & CEO and several Board members, we developed and executed a search strategy that was highly customized to their specific needs.  We began by networking with our contacts within the engineering and construction community nationwide.  After garnering referrals, we targeted a selective group of firms who service fossil and renewable energy power conglomerates, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical, as well as state and federal infrastructure clients.  While some of these organizations do not offer the same services as our client, they do serve similar end-markets, which ensured that a professional coming from one of these entities would have the proper knowledge and transferrable experience. 

We targeted executives who held positions such as Director of Operations, Vice President, Executive Vice President, Senior Vice President, President, and Chief Executive Officer who were employed by major owners; general, heavy civil, and industrial contractors; construction managers; oil and gas companies; architectural and engineering firm; service and maintenance organizations; and renewable energy providers. 

Search Results

We presented our client with a slate of candidates who were top tier professionals with organizations that spanned from ENR top-ranked engineering and construction firms to prominent private equity players.  Our client selected a professional who has more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, both nationally and internationally.  His background affords him expertise in leadership, strategic planning, and talent development.  He has a proven track record of developing new markets, expanding existing high margin business units, enhancing profitability, and supporting consistent performance.

Due to this individual’s skill set and depth of talent, our client decided to elevate the COO role to Executive Chairman to oversee all subsidiary companies within the Company’s portfolio.  Shortly after coming on board with our client, the professional identified mismanagement among several subsidiaries, quickly addressed the issues, and has been instrumental in turning the companies around. 

As a result of his successes, the Executive Chairman has been requested to serve in Board positions within two specialty contractors owned by the same private equity firm, one that is located in Texas and the other Washington DC.  He has also become involved in evaluating and supporting future acquisitions so that the firm can continue to build a strong portfolio of companies under its leadership.