Our client is a private equity-owned environmental contractor based in Texas with a national presence and revenues of approximately $200M. Initially, Helbling was retained to secure a Senior Vice President of Business Development (SVP) whose primary objective is to incorporate development initiatives across a variety of operational areas to better integrate project delivery and client management with sales best practices. Reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), this was a newly created role by the Board of Directors and Executive team in an effort to bring a leader on board who could help guide the company through market diversification (new geographies and vertical sectors) over a three- to five-year period, with the ultimate goal of positioning the company for future acquisition.
A variety of stakeholders involved in the hiring process (executive team, operations staff, and board members), expressed varied opinions about the skill set and profile necessary to be successful. The company needed someone who was capable of developing and advancing their overall direction through the creation of strategic growth initiatives, enhancement of internal processes and procedures, and leveraging of industry relationships and market knowledge to spearhead an aggressive growth plan.
Being a private equity-owned business, the role commanded an executive who was an agile thinker with the ability to generate quick results, connect with their internal team members, and see both the small and big pictures. The firm was in “grow now” mode, so they needed someone whose personality and approach could inspire and lead the existing team from day one, but they also needed a person capable of shouldering various responsibilities and being in the trenches with the rest of the team. Overall, the SVP needed to be a very hands-on executive with an established reputation and track record who possessed a working network of industry contacts within major oil/gas, chemical, and industrial owners and contractors.
Because our client is in a specific niche market, the likelihood of finding a conventional candidate from direct competition was unlikely, which prompted us to target individuals from a variety of layers in the engineering and construction industry.
Our primary strategy was to look across the engineering and construction community at organizations who serviced major oil/gas, industrial, and chemicals clients. While many of these organizations did not necessarily offer the same services as our client, they did serve the same end markets, ensuring the proper knowledge and transferrable contacts/experiences from a business development standpoint. We then targeted individuals within those organizations who specialized in business development, and those who were “seller-doers” who had a mix of business development and operational duties. With our client being a self-performance contractor, the operational element is the most important aspect of their business, so to have a SVP who understood that and connected with the operational team was critical.
Working closely with the CEO throughout the search process and with select Board Members during interviews, we ultimately secured an individual from a $1B+ industrial contractor. In his previous capacity, the professional served as a Vice President, overseeing the establishment and growth of a new geographic region in Texas. He has a unique blend of business development, operations, and profit/loss management ability along with the start-up mindset for a private equity environment. The candidate was familiar with some of our client’s work as an environmental subcontractor on a variety of large industrial projects, and therefore had a working knowledge of their business, their value proposition, and where they fit within the bigger picture. His personality, experiences, and approach mesh extremely well with our client’s CEO and operations managers, which was a critical factor in his hire.
During the course of the SVP search, we were fortunate to be referred to a talented individual who was working within one of our client’s direct competitors in the Northeast. This individual was approached as a potential candidate for the SVP position and preliminary discussions took place. Based in Philadelphia, he could not consider relocation of his family to Texas, so discussions did not advance past that point. As the SVP search progressed positively with other candidates, the CEO contemplated the idea of creating a new position and requested to revisit this candidate. Meetings were coordinated and, ultimately, our client secured this individual as the Vice President of Northeast Operations - a role that would not require relocation. The new VP's role is to grow our client’s presence across the Northeast region and build a team over time. The candidate has a 20+ year career and expertise within our client’s highly specialized sector along with strong business development capabilities, and he also brings knowledge of a new geography that supports the Company's growth plans.
Within the first year, each of these individuals have made a significant impact. The SVP has championed improvements on client management and new client development, and is leading a push to make business development a unified and company-wide endeavor. The Vice President of Operations immediately bolstered the Northeast region with a key operational hire to support his efforts, and they are gaining traction with prospective clients in a region that has high growth potential but is largely untapped. In recent discussions with the CEO, he is very optimistic about the value that both individuals are adding to the business, and he expects continued growth going forward.
At the time of this search, our client was in “grow now” mode and they needed a senior executive who had deep skill sets as well as a leadership approach that would inspire the existing team from day one. Ultimately, we secured an individual who has a unique blend of business development, operations, and profit/loss management abilities along with the start-up mindset necessary for a private equity environment. In performing extensive and strategic recruitment for the SVP role, we also uncovered another professional in whom our client had a strong interest and subsequently created a Vice President, Northeast Operations role specifically for him.Tom Dunn, Managing Director - Mid-Atlantic