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Search Case Study: Senior Executives with Private Equity Owned Contractor

Search Case Study: Senior Executives with Private Equity Owned Contractor

Helbling was retained by a private equity-owned environmental contractor to secure a Senior Vice President, Business Development. Through the recruitment of a seasoned executive who has a diverse skill set and track record of making impacts in various operational areas, we uncovered a professional who was also attractive for his capabilities, which prompted our client to create a Vice President, Northeast Operations role.

Our Client, Its Roles, & Objectives

  • Senior Vice President, Business Development

  • Vice President, Northeast Operations

Our client is a private equity-owned environmental contractor with a national presence and approximately $200M in revenues. Initially, Helbling was retained to secure a Senior Vice President of Business Development (SVP) who would report directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and incorporate development initiatives across a variety of operational areas to better integrate project delivery and client management with sales best practices. 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 to be acquired. The search had a variety of stakeholders involved in the hiring process (executive team, operations staff, and board members), and there were multiple opinions of the skill set and profile necessary to be successful. The company needed someone who was capable of developing and advancing their overall strategic direction through creating strategic growth initiatives, enhancing internal processes and procedures, and leveraging 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.

Search Strategies

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, chemicals, etc. clients. These organizations did not necessarily have to offer the same services as our client, but they did need to serve the same end-markets to ensure 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.

Search Results

Working closely with the CEO throughout the search process and selective Board Members during interviews, we ultimately secured an individual who came 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 aware of 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 in with 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. He was based in Philadelphia and ultimately 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 a newly created position and requested to revisit this individual and meetings were coordinated. Ultimately, our client chose to create a position for this individual, and he was ultimately secured as their new Vice President of Northeast Operations. The candidate would not need to relocate, and his focus would be to grow our client’s presence across the Northeast region and continue to build a team over time. The candidate has 20+ year career and expertise within our client’s highly specialized sector along with very strong business development capability, and he also brings expertise in a new geography that is strategically supporting our client’s growth plans.

Within their first year, both 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 continued value that both individuals can add to their business and expects continued growth in 2016.