International Case Study from SMW: Interim Production Director

The client is a steel production company that is over 100 years old. The company focuses on recycling and production of steel products. They are part of an international holding company and operate as a mid-market company in the Netherlands.

The client was facing trouble because several key players had decided to leave the company. The sitting operations manager indicated he was overworked and not able to resolve the problems the company was facing. Most of the issues came from a lack of leadership on the management/director-level in the company. They were afraid to make decisions and let problems live on and grow.

Over time, the company faced high levels of employee turnover along with a negative atmosphere. There were ongoing complaints about a lack of leadership and decision-making power. There were also problems with environmental inspection services concerning the high levels of waste gases. Lastly, a growing backlog and low levels of efficiency in production have made matters critical.


The client got in touch with Van de Groep & Olsthoorn to find an interim operations director to get the situation under control while the looked for a longer term solution. The interim provider came up with the candidates within two days, both experienced and somewhat overqualified for the position.
Within the week the company chose one of the two candidates, selecting the one with the closest experience to the company’s industry.


  • Situational analysis was completed in week 1 and 2 and submitted with approval
  • Refined key initiatives with executive management
  • Developed project plans and reporting dashboards with KPI for each of the initiatives
  • Communication of changes and strategic focus to all key employees
  • Discovering and mitigating manufacturing bottlenecks began in week 4
  • Continued to drill down into people and processes and uncovered bottlenecks

In two months the interim manager was able to make a turnaround within the company’s culture and started up stand up meetings and some technical projects to improve the operational performance of the company. In the next four months he brought stability and further operational (Lean) improvements and he empowered the people in operations to take ownership on their own processes. In his last month the interim manager focused on the onboarding of his permanent successor.

5 key processes were found to lack capacity and improved

  • Project new waste gases installation running + relationship with inspection services normalized
  • Hiring of new employees on key positions
  • Introduction of stand up meetings every morning
  • Change to positive atmosphere within the company in 2 months
  • Empowerment of senior planner in taking the lead on the complete process
  • >25% increase of capacity

Feedback/Quotes from the inside team
  • “Finally, someone took charge of the complete process.”
  • “The interim manager made decisions that should have beenmade already”
  • “The interim manager was positive and had a large impact on the atmosphere within the company”

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