April 30, 2020 – New Providence, NJ-based executive search firm BrainWorks recently assisted in the placements of James Hill and Kim Mattoon as chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Hollander Sleep Products, a Centre Lane Partners backed company. Eric Frickel, leader of the recruitment firm’s private equity search practice, led the assignment.
“The engagement started in August 2019 as Centre Lane Partners was looking to acquire the business out of Chapter 11 proceedings,” said Mr. Frickel. “It was a competitive process and they were not sure they were going to win the deal. Given our business-partner-first directive, and there being no guarantees that the deal would be completed, we put together a detailed search strategy and scorecards for what a great COO and CFO would look like in the business in partnership with Centre Lane.”
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“Getting out in front of this before the actual closing of the deal was critical from a time standpoint, allowing Centre Lane to search for their eventual CEO,” said Mr. Frickel. But that also presented another challenge: not having the CEO in place. “So we really needed to do a significant amount of due diligence and assessment given the situation to drive a targeted process that would produce the types of candidates with deep operational and transformation experience to drive the value creation strategy.”
The company’s new CEO, Thomas Pinnau, arrived in December, and his first order of business was to secure his COO and CFO. “After Centre Lane finalized the transaction in September, we had James Hill lined up within 30 days,” Mr. Frickel said. “He was carefully vetted by BrainWorks and evaluated by Centre Lane and prepped to meet with Thomas shortly after his start date. Andy Miller (president and CEO of BrainWorks) had known James for a few years given his deep consumer products network from having executed leaderships searches in CPG for over 30 years.”
Mr. Hill’s career spans over 25 years. He has a proven track record across a diverse range of industries delivering results and leading continuous improvements across end-to-end global supply chains and manufacturing operations. He has worked for a number of leading private equity firms, including Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
“James had been with Wilton Brands and Exemplis bringing highly relevant industry experience and expertise with global supply chains in very relevant sectors,” said Mr. Frickel. “As a supply-chain expert, deep roots in transformation, and significant PE experience in challenging situations he scored very high across all of the accountabilities. The real differentiators were his demonstrated leadership and outstanding communication skills that would immediately inject strong morale into his team and provide a great business partner for Thomas.”
In his new role, Mr. Hill will lead the entire end-to-end operations team at Hollander, including supply chain, sourcing, manufacturing and logistics. He is expected to be instrumental in the successful implementation of the company’s key strategic transformation initiatives and provide critical leadership in the development of a winning organizational structure, capabilities and people talent.
Complex CFO Search
“The CFO search was highly complex as the specification had some twists and turns along the way,” said Mr. Frickel. “The dynamics of this CFO position really required an operations background deep enough where the candidate could have been or might have also been a COO during their career.”
“Kim Mattoon had just recently led Gibson Guitar out of chapter 11 and got that business on a strong trajectory having partnered with KKR,” he said. “She has an exceptional pedigree having led finance and operations of several global divisions of Richemont. She was known as ‘The Fixer’ at Richemont and we knew very quickly she was ideal. The search for Kim was started and completed in 30 days. Like James, she brings a real calmness and leadership quality suited to drive a transformation and reinvigorate the finance function.”
Overall, while the assignments were on different timelines, both were completed in 30 days, with a significant number of complexities around the searches. “Being a nimble boutique firm along with an ability to quickly synthesize the limited information we had to build and execute an effective search strategy was a key differentiator here,’ said Mr. Frickel. “While Hollander will face challenges, they have an outstanding leadership team that will drive sustainable improvement and transform the company into once again the leading brand in the sleep category.”
In her role as CFO, Ms. Mattoon will lead the entire finance function at Hollander, including operations controlling, FP&A, strategic planning, AR, compliance, customer credits and contracts. She is expected to be instrumental in the successful implementation of the company’s key strategic transformation initiatives and provide critical leadership in the development of a winning organizational structure, capabilities and people talent.
“We are extremely excited to have both James and Kim joining the Hollander team,” said Mr. Pinnau, the company’s CEO. “Leaders of their caliber will build world-class operations and finance teams at Hollander and play key roles as members of our leadership team to build organizational capabilities, drive performance and support a strong collaboration across our entire organization.”
Trusted Search Firm
Since 1991, BrainWorks has been providing executive recruiting services in the practice areas of private equity, consumer products, decision sciences & analytics, market research and relationship marketing. The firm focuses on the recruiting needs of C-level and sub C-level management specifically within private equity and Fortune companies.
During his 15-plus years in private equity executive search, Mr. Frickel has developed and managed numerous searches with leading private equity firms placing C-level leadership within their portfolio companies. Additionally, he places Investment professionals and operating partners at the fund level.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media