David Dodge, CPC
In the middle of 2021, Headwaters Search was approached by a local $80-million manufacturing firm. Wanting to take a less active role in running the business, the owner of the firm was looking for a successor to take over as CEO.
The company was made up of seven separate subsidiaries—all of which had their own leader in place. The new CEO would head up the company’s management services group and be responsible for all financial reporting, as well as overseeing the legal, HR, IT, and accounting functions for the entire organization.
The owner was looking for someone with both a public accounting background and corporate leadership experience. They preferred the CEO to be a local candidate who was both highly experienced but also interested in a long-term career fit.
Our search was further impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic—necessitating initial remote online interviews and additional precautions to ensure all participants’ safety, while still effectively vetting candidates for the role.
This search was a highly collaborative effort between Headwaters Search and our client’s owner, their current CFO, COO, and several key board members. Our executive search specialists met with these parties multiple times to refine the position description and to ensure a unanimous agreement on the key attributes, skills, and cultural role of the ideal candidate.
We focused our recruiting efforts on manufacturing organizations with multiple entities, looking for leaders with strong financial backgrounds and collaborative skill sets—all within the Greater Twin Cities area.
Due to the senior level of this search and the local geographical requirement, we tapped into our large network of local C-suite contacts. This resulted in a dozen referrals of talented individuals being added to the pool of possible candidates sourced through more traditional search methodologies.
Headwaters Search initially identified and vetted over 70 candidates who met the initial requirements for the CEO position. Looking beyond the basic experience and skills required for the role, we narrowed the field by probing for a positive history of successful multiple entity management and an ability to gain consensus among other team leaders that enabled periods of successful growth and development.
This approach led us to remote interviews with nine candidates. From this group, we presented six candidates to the client hiring team. They selected four finalists from these recommendations to carry over into the next stage of the interview process.
Following multiple in-person interviews, the leadership team chose a finalist to whom they wished to extend an offer. Headwaters Search helped them craft and negotiate an offer that was accepted by the top candidate.
After an initial two-month period, this individual has hit the ground running. He has met personally with all seven subsidiary business leaders and is actively moving forward on important initiatives critical to the organization’s continued success.
Suffice it to say, the owner is happily eyeing his upcoming retirement.