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Case Study - Commercial Director

Client: Van Elle

Appointment By

Van Elle

The Client

Van Elle is one of the UK’s largest ground engineering contractors. The group offers a wide range of specialist geotechnical techniques and services to customers in a variety of construction end markets from major projects to housebuilding. Van Elle have created a strong reputation built on service quality, technical expertise, innovation, safety and the successful delivery of value driven solutions to customers.

The Role

Commercial Director

The Challenge

Working initially with the Interim CEO prior to Mark Cutler joining from Balfour Beatty, Van Elle were convinced they required a combined Sales & Commercial Director, someone commercially focussed with experience of leading Sales teams; the rationale for this was Van Elle have lots of customers but needed to establish better relationships and insights of them. Engagement levels had historically been too low and they needed to establish higher Director and strategic relationships in order to better communicate and sell their capability.

Other duties included; providing Commercial & Bid governance, looking at future acquisitions and strategic growth, forecasting revenue and profits & trading updates to the City, negotiating major deals and deputising for the CEO as required.

The Solution

Our process involved a full market mapping exercise of both competitive ground engineering businesses’ and other leading civil engineering and construction firms to assess candidates with both potential and proven Commercial Director ability. Over 100 people were assessed utilising our stringent competency based interviewing model; we proposed candidates with Sales strengths and Commercial strengths but finding people with both in equal measure was quite challenging. Ultimately, we found three strong candidates for the final shortlist who matched the skills profile.

One of these; John Foster was the preferred choice. John is a qualified QS and Commercial Director who had been responsible for the growth and development of St Gobain, a world leading Glass manufacturer and Building Façade Contractor, achieving group sales target and subsidiary targets, developing supply chain relationships, realising and implementing sales strategies, implementing successful marketing, commercial responsibilities and negotiating new opportunities. He had developed several new business streams in the previous 12 months and contributed to the Saint-Gobain HABITAT Education and South East Major Works programmes.

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