Export Manager to Interim Board Director

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Interim Board Director journey

Impressive performance

Back in the very early eighties I was export manager for a Barnsley based manufacturing company but looking for new challenge. Out of the blue I was headhunted for the position of Export Manager German Speaking countries with a Dutch Plc of a similar size to Coats Vyella, manufacturing and marketing carpet yarns, knitting yarns, machine knitted woollen ladies garments. With four manufacturing units, in the Netherlands and Belgium; with distribution companies in Germany, Austria, UK, USA, France, Japan and Taiwan; employing 2100 staff.

My amazing journey started

When I joined on the 8th of January 1983 the board of shareholders had just dismissed the CEO and two directors; who left crying and using colourful language. The next day the company was denied its full seasonal credit line by the bank; a management consulting company was being hired and it is there my amazing journey started.

Within one week a new interim CEO was appointed, formally from Shell and previously CEO of Forbo, the Swiss based carpet manufacturing Plc. I got on extremely well with this gentleman, a formidable manager.

That same week I was asked to join the interim company and accepted a role as Interim Board Director of the Plc with full P&L responsibility for subsidiaries outside the Netherlands exclusive of manufacturing plants and made Managing Director of the largest subsidiaries in Germany, Austria and Belgium.

Haemorrhaging cash

The new board decided that the largest three subsidiaries were badly performing and haemorrhaging cash through using an outsourced European distribution centre. I was now responsible; and investigated utilising a team of three warehouse and distribution specialists. Reporting within two weeks; the distribution centre had to be shut and relocated to Germany, completely automated and computerised. At the same time the sales and marketing function needed decentralising and reorganising.

Impressive performance

The board accepted my proposals, and the plan was implemented. It took approx. six months to realise, a seven day week work routine and substantial battles with the unions.

The board of shareholders was suitably impressed and extended my interim contract. Subsequently I was asked to assist the interim CEO as Board Director in the planned takeover of a Netherlands competitor yarn manufacturer with two production plants, 1800 staff and subsidiaries in Germany, the UK and the USA.

Utilising two accountants I analysed the foreign subsidiaries performance and implemented a six month integration/closure program.  I was also heavily involved integrating two Plc's to create maximum shareholder value. Following success I stayed on a further year with the interim CEO to ease the company into calmer waters and prepare for commercial growth and financial success.

The above was an experience that has prepared me thoroughly, for my future roles in interim management.

Dr Robert Klaasen

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