In 2006 Carcoustics had a loss-making factory in France and they were in need of a clear strategy for the future of the plant. Thomas Mair, Managing Director of Carcoustics appointed an interim manager who brought about a complete turnaround. 

What was the assignment?
Thomas Mair:
A general reorganisation took place within our company in 2006. We wanted to create a structure of 6 lead centres through ‘The 100 days concept’ plan. Each lead centre was responsible for a specific technology within this new structure. It wasn't looking all that good for our French division as Carcoustics had not been satisfied with the economic performance of this unit for some time. We thought that it was appropriate to develop a very objective view of our French organisation within the context of this general restructuring. The appointment of an interim General Manager was an appropriate formula for this. Because it was still not clear which strategy we were going to establish for our French unit, we wanted a General Manager who could make a sharp analysis; someone who would be able to look into the various options for the future of the plant. We also expected this person to quickly start taking the right decisions and successfully implement the chosen strategy.
How did the selection go?
Thomas Mair: Our Human Resources division had approached a few selection bureaus about this assignment. I was therefore in a position of being able to make a selection from several candidates. It soon became clear in the interviews that Eric Bolly, the Essensys candidate, was the right man for the job.
Why was he ‘the right man at the right place at the right time’?
Thomas Mair: His management experience in France was a very important element when we made our choice. It was clear from the interview that he possessed the communication skills for sustaining a constructive dialogue with the French trade unions and authorities. This competence was essential for leading the changes in the right direction. We could not afford a strike, which would not only have made the bad economic situation worse, but it would also have damaged our reputation with our clients. His strategic insight for bringing restructuring processes to a good end was another plus point. We were able to deduce from his curriculum vitae that he was a talented people manager. It was apparent throughout the whole process that this talent was of paramount importance. Emanating credibility and trust was fundamental during this period of uncertainty. The fact that Eric spoke French was also obviously an advantage.
Which options were available?
Thomas Mair: We took various scenarios into account, including closure. Thanks to the critical analysis and efficient management, we were able to avoid this worst case scenario. Through cost control and increasing productivity, our French unit became a ‘streamlined’ organisation that was once again able to achieve a positive cash flow. This ultimately led to the Italian company, Adler Plastic, buying our French branch.
How was Eric Bolly able to bring about his turnaround?
Thomas Mair: By thinking quickly and acting quickly. A few weeks after arriving, he restructured the management team. The analysis followed very quickly after this and the due diligence procedure was able to start a couple of months later. He reacted straight away and was therefore able to outline a clear view of the future of the plant within a short time. This fast analysis allowed him to take action quickly and begin the turnaround of the French unit.
How was the restructuring of the management team received?
Thomas Mair: A streamlined and efficient management team was an important factor in the successful turnaround of the plant. In real terms, this meant the dismissal of several managers and increasing the responsibilities of the other managers. Even though this was not a popular decision, Eric succeeded in gaining and maintaining the trust of both the management team and the employees. He paid much attention to the communication with the various parties involved throughout the whole process. It was an absolute priority for him that employees, trade unions, authorities and management were consistently informed about the state of affairs.
What was the biggest ‘challenge’ along the way?
Thomas Mair: I think that it is a remarkable achievement that we were able to succeed in increasing productivity during this period of uncertainty for the personnel. As a General Manager, he was able to intensify the involvement of the management team and the employees. We were able to significantly improve the economic performance in the year that the process of change took place. This result was higher than expected and the figures speak for themselves and are testament to both strong management and leadership.
Solutions by Essensys
1. Appointing an interim General Manager for the loss-making factory in France
2. Developing a long term strategy for this loss-making unit together with Carcoustics
3. Successfully implementing the process of change for the various parties involved: employees, management team, trade unions, authorities, potential buyers, buyer and Board of Directors
Company profile
  • World leader in motor acoustic technology, sound design and heat management of cars
  • Develops products and services relating to acoustic and thermal insulation of cars
  • Supplier to car manufacturers (Ford, BMW, Fiat, Chrysler, Toyota, Mercedes, Renault, Citroën etc)
  • 2,300 employees worldwide
  • Turnover in 2007: 330,000,000 Euros
  • Branches in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Liechtenstein, United States, Mexico and South Africa
  • Partner in the Asian market: Inoac
  • Headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany

Source: Sense magazine, June 2008