Bons & Evers, a Dutch family business of over 70 years, has been transforming to a reputable market leader of hot forging and machining of brass, copper and aluminum alloys. Their main goal is to supply top quality metal parts and components to automotive customers across the world. Bons & Evers established a state-of-the-art production equipment, machinery and technology production facility in the LingangFengxian Industrial Park China in 2017. IESF partners from China and the Netherlands worked together in searching the best suitable candidate for the position of CEO for this division in China. The main focus points for the newly appointed CEO are forming a complete local management team, achieving production capacities and sales revenue as well as account management of global key customers and newly developed local customers in the automotive Industry. IESF China completed the search within 4 weeks and Bons & Evers production facility is now fully operating since mid 2020. What were the main objectives and which difficulties the consultants came across? IESF talks to the two consultants in charge: Rachel Chen, from IESF China and Jan Willem Houtman, from IESF The Netherlands.
Family-run and Private Equity
Bons & Evers is a successful family-run business. In 2020 Bencis Private Equity acquired 51% of the shares. The China plant has been set up to supply one of their biggest automotive customers in China. A German interim manager was in charge at that moment, supported by the Group CFO. Total turnover per annum is about €160 million and Bons & Evers has around 700 people employed in total. 50% of their turnover is produced for automotive customers. The Bons & Evers board – which at the time consisted of a CEO and a CFO – decided to start searching for a new local CEO / Director China.
Main objectives for the new leader
Jan Willem Houtman, consultant at IESF The Netherlands: “The new CEO reports directly to the Group Board at the Dutch Head Office. He leads local teams of production as well as commercial/supporting staffs. The top priority is managing the preparatory processes, to enable a successful standard operating procedure for launching customers in China. Another important task is managing the subsequent fast increase in volumes. This means: the day-to-day operations and manufacture management of the entire China operations. This includes achieving financial targets and objectives. It’s important to collaborate with the Group Board and to manage key account global customers.”
Targeted Search and the challenges
Jan Willem Houtman contacted the client to specify their needs regarding the search assignment. Then he briefed Rachel Chen, consultant at IESF China, to make a business proposal and start the search. She came across three main challenges in this search. Rachel Chen: “First of all, due to the newly set up company in China, lots of candidates had concerns about the company’s scale and possible limitations of the business scope. The second challenge was the company’s location in Shanghai, far away from downtown. And the third challenge was that we were looking for a very specific candidate profile: being both strong in manufacturing operations and having a commercial supporting background in the automotive industry.”
Global reach, local knowledge
Rachel adds: “Actually, the automotive manufacturing companies are not concentrated in Shanghai, we approached some candidates in nearby cities and few candidates would consider relocating. We also met some candidates in the local Shanghai area, but they proved to not be strong in the manufacturing operations. Apart from the requirements of production operations management, candidates should possess on-the-ground supply chain management experience of 1st/2nd tier industrial products in the automotive sector.”
Jan Willem Houtman: “Rachel did a great job and presented a shortlist of 5 candidates matching the search profile within 4 weeks. I Think the recruitment process in Shanghai went smoothly with bi-weekly updates between our offices about the planning.The steps that were taken are according to our IESF approach.”
Rachel Chen: “Alex Liu was placed as CEO for Bons & Evers China. They chose his expertise because he’s diligent, responsible, has a good working attitude and was fully prepared for each interview. They also praised several skills such as his communication, interpersonal and organizational skills. Alex brings solid knowledge of the automotive industry, a strong manufacturing operation management background with some client key account experience.”
High-end products at international quality standards
The China facility is a copy of the production lines of the Bons & Evers subsidiaries in Germany. This substantial investment has enabled Bons & Evers to provide high-end products to local customers at international quality standards as well as enhance the corporate position in the worldwide forging industry. There were about 15 people employed at the production site in China in the beginning, now that number has doubled. The company is headquartered in the Netherlands with years of experience in engineering quality. It has gained extensive expertise as a tier-two supplier of various well-known Original Equipment Manufacturers. https://www.bons-evers.com/nl/