Vice President, Facilities
for an automotive retail services corporation

Representing a conglomerate within the automotive retail sector for the first time, two of our consultants teamed up to perform this search. Working collaboratively with our client's Vice President of Human Resources, Corporate & Wholesale Groups and Senior Vice President, Real Estate & Facilities, we completed the assignment in 60 days and secured an individual who has made significant strides during his first year in the role.

Our client owns and operates more than 2,500 automotive retail service chains of several different brands across the country. The company retained us to conduct this search due to the retirement of its Vice President of Facilities (Vice President) who had been with the company 15 years, and the lack of an internal candidate who had the capabilities and experience to assume the role. At the same time, the company was undergoing a significant initiative to reposition and strengthen the brand of one of its national chains, as well as acquiring and incorporating another major chain into its portfolio.

Within our client’s structure, the Vice President plays an instrumental role by supporting new store development, facilities maintenance, and remodels of existing locations. The overall objective is to decrease construction and operational costs through continuous value engineering, enhancement, and innovation.

As with every executive search, there are requirements to fulfill a role and there are ideal abilities and characteristics that will allow a professional to expand the dimension of the position and strengthen an organization. For the Vice President role, we understood that qualified candidates would need to have substantial experience managing the construction and facilities management of a large portfolio. In discussing our client's long-term objectives, we came to understand that ideal candidates would also have real estate procurement and investment experience as it was planned that the Vice President would ideally assume this function in the near future.  

Understanding our client’s organization, its objectives, and the Vice President role, we knew that we were looking for a dynamic and progressive senior executive who had a broad background in retail construction and facilities management, and a charismatic management style that would complement our client’s corporate culture.

To most effectively perform the assignment, Helbling designated two consultants to the search who would work closely with our client’s Vice President of Human Resources, Corporate & Wholesale Groups, and its Senior Vice President, Real Estate & Facilities. The agreed upon strategy was to focus on large national chains within the hospitality and retail sectors, and to strategically reach out to construction managers and third-party facilities management firms that specialize in these vertical markets to leverage their industry knowledge and contacts for referrals.

We targeted vice presidents and directors who were involved in construction, facilities, and real estate with companies that have large real estate portfolios. We also identified directors, vice presidents, and account managers who were with facilities management and construction firms.

While this was the first search in which Helbling represented a private retailer, our search efforts were not impeded in any way. In fact, this search was one of our most efficient searches conducted, with the secured professional on board within 60 days from our search contract being executed. This was due to our client’s support, responsiveness, and commitment throughout the search process and the strong collaboration between its leadership and our internal search team.

Helbling secured an individual who has more than 30 years of experience and had spent the prior eight years with a large national food chain, managing a major capital initiative that involved acquiring land, as well as designing and constructing 1,000+ new store locations. He also had experience managing the facilities of regional food retailers and working directly for a construction company. This individual was selected by our client for his strong executive presence; effective leadership style; expertise overseeing large and national capital and facilities maintenance programs; and experience in real estate procurement and investment.   

Thus far in his tenure with our client, the professional has achieved much success, and his accomplishments include:

  • Following the acquisition of a large national chain, played an instrumental role in successfully integrating the company into the parent organization.   
  • Restructured the facilities department by “putting the right people in the right seats." 
  • Streamlined processes and procedures for enhanced efficiency and productivity. 
  • Working closely with the corporation’s largest chains, redesigned store layouts and exteriors, and created a prototype to reduce construction and facilities maintenance and operations costs.   
  • Created smaller buildings, which generates more options during site selection.  
  • Value engineered the buildings, which has resulted in more cost effective structures in non-hurricane zones.
  • Created an exterior revamping program, which was implemented across 64 stores, and has resulted in a 10.6% increase in sales in the past year. Due to the program’s success, our client’s senior leadership team has asked him to revamp an additional 100 stores next year using the same program.
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While this was the first search in which Helbling represented a private retailer, our search efforts were not impeded in any way. In fact, this search was one of our most efficient searches conducted, with the secured professional on board within 60 days from our search contract being executed. This was due to our client’s support, responsiveness, and commitment throughout the search process and the strong collaboration between its leadership and our internal search team.
Wes Miller, Managing Director - Southeast

Learn about Helbling’s search process