Interview with René Boeve, leaving Managing Director of DWI and DIT and Philip van Leersum, future Managing Director.
After an active career as Managing Director of two manufacturing companies, René Boeve plans to retire soon. He has been Director/Owner of DWI Fabrics, a specialist in technical textile fabrics for conveyor belts, coatings and tarpaulins, since 2009. From 2016, he combined that role with the directorship of DIT Weaving, producer and sales organization of PURE® composite. “I am 65 and it was time to start thinking about succession. Although we are a family business, we do not have a successor in place. We were looking for an entrepreneur who is not a clone of me.” Boeve engaged IESF The Netherlands – Van de Groep & Olsthoorn – to determine which Managing Director both companies could move into the future with.” Although we are a family business, we don’t have a successor in house. We were looking for an entrepreneur who is not a clone of me.” Gertjan van de Groep: “Prior to departing from a company you’ve founded and nurtured, our clients want to find someone who is responsible, trustworthy, talented and passionate to take over the business. IESF partners often help their clients worldwide manage the challenging task of finding successors to run their companies once they are ready to move on. This is a Dutch example, but explains the common challenges our global IESF colleagues service their customers in.”
Do you know who will take over your construction company when you retire? If not, it’s time to begin thinking about your company’s succession plan. This plan is more than a vague idea of who will take over when you’re ready to step down—it’s a plan that ensures your company can continue without interruption if you or any of your top managers were to unexpectedly leave the business or have to take an extended leave of absence. If you find it difficult to determine who would make a good successor or do not want your personal feelings and thoughts to influence the decision, consider bringing in an outside consultant. They can look objectively at your employees’ resumes and skills in order to determine who may make a great successor and who may not. And they can also find and assess external candidates for the position.
In close consultation with IESF The Netherlands the profile of the new Director was determined. Boeve: “We talked very carefully about what the background, ambitions and needs of the organization are. That was the starting point to determine what kind of Director we need. It was striking that they did extensive and critical research in our organization. In doing so, they did not just focus on me. My daughter and son-in-law, who work in the company, and other employees were also interviewed at length. The idea behind that is that I leave and the rest of the company moves into the future under new leadership.”
Good candidates quickly
It made sense that the candidate should have a technical background and manufacturing experience. And strong commercial and management skills were also a requirement. But Boeve was mainly looking for an entrepreneur. “DWI and DIT operate in two different markets that are also quite compact. Therefore, specific market knowledge was not a hard requirement. Once the profile was determined, I was surprised by the speed and efficiency of the search process. After putting out the vacancy and selection, I was offered good candidates fairly quickly.”
Technical and commercial
For Philip van Leersum, the vacancy for a prospective Managing Director at DWI and DIT came just at the right time. “The content appealed to me because I have experience in manufacturing technical textiles and my heart lies there. I started my career at Ten Cate and even worked at a predecessor of DWI. With forays into the packaging and raw materials industries, I expanded my technical knowledge with commercial duties in the role of Managing Director.
Opportunity to do business
After an online introduction his enthusiasm was further fueled. “I love the manufacturing industry and the sound of rotating machinery. It is nice to be directly involved in the production process from raw material to semi-finished or finished product. Another big plus of this job was the chance to be entrepreneurial. I have always been salaried until now and have been able to gain broad experience there. Yet entrepreneurship also attracts me. Not necessarily setting up my own company, but this opportunity to participate in a well-run business gives me the chance to experience risk and success.”
The transition period between the leaving and new Director can sometimes be tense. According to Boeve, there should not be two captains on a ship. “To avoid tension, clear agreements have been made. We have mutually agreed that Philip will concentrate entirely on DIT for the first year. It is prudent at this stage to give extra attention to composite activities. Indeed, the international growth potential is great and we want to exploit it. This way, he can get to know and understand this market well.”
Taking personal responsibility
In the meantime, Boeve is still focusing on DWI. Van Leersum says: “DWI is still the main pillar for the holding company today. By continuing to innovate, we are still achieving healthy growth every year. It is my intention to take over the leadership here too after a year. This step is easier because I know the market for technical textiles well.” A total of one-and-a-half to two years have been set aside for the transition. “It’s about being able to take over the leadership with confidence. In this, it is nice that René Boeve is not a directive leader. Instead, he values taking personal responsibility within the organization and gives me a lot of space to do so,” Van Leersum indicated.
As Van Leersum looks to the future, stable growth with an eye on good margins is the goal. “Like other manufacturing companies, finding and retaining well-trained employees is a challenge. Especially since our technical know-how is at the core of both companies. There are many opportunities, but the key is to make the best use of capacity. DWI is currently the stable factor in it all, giving DIT room to grow. Ultimately, we want to make and keep DIT as strong as DWI.”