Case Study

Identifying the Next Leader:
CEO Succession in the Industrial Services Sector

The successful identification and recruitment of a new CEO for an industrial services business in the Midwest was critical to ensuring a smooth transition as well as continued growth after the founder CEO’s retirement.

By Paul W. Schmidt

The Client

An industrial services business headquartered in central Ohio, with revenues of $200 million, was sponsored by a large New York based private equity company. The private equity company is known for its investments in best-of-class companies with strong market positions and growth potential. The industrial services business is a leader in custom service solutions and equipment design and construction, providing environmentally sound solutions to hundreds of customers in various industries, including appliance, automotive, agricultural and construction sectors.

The Challenge

The founder CEO of the industrial services business planned to retire within one year, and the private equity company needed to recruit a new CEO who could continue to drive growth and success for the business. The ideal candidate would have full P/L experience with market facing strength and expertise in establishing top-tier business processes, strengthening functional leaders, and providing future orderly succession. It was important to find a candidate who could build on the founder CEO's success and continue to lead the business in a positive direction.

The Solution

To find the right candidate, we developed a research strategy targeting the P/L leaders of $1.0 billion or larger business units of market-leading industrial or business services companies located in medium sized Midwest cities. The research team used a variety of sources to identify potential candidates, including industry publications, professional networks, and referrals from trusted sources. Each candidate was evaluated based on their experience, skills, and fit with the company culture.

The Results

After an extensive search, we presented a slate of four candidates with strategic, documented success in value creation and experience in companies representing leadership and excellence in business processes. The chosen candidate was a Fortune 500 Group Executive managing a $2.0 billion P/L in a top-notch service business. He had a proven track record of driving growth and profitability in his previous roles and was able to bring high-caliber business processes to the industrial services business. Over time, he groomed and promoted his successor from within the organization, ensuring a smooth transition and continued success for the business.

Overall, the recruitment process was successful in identifying a qualified candidate who was able to build on the founder CEO's success and lead the business into the future. The private equity company was pleased with the outcome and continued to support the business as it grew and expanded its reach.

The business was ultimately acquired by a Fortune 500 industrial resulting in a very successful exit for the private equity firm.

About the Author
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