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Case Study: Interim CFO mandate for post-merger integration process at medium-sized mechanical engineering company

A small medium-sized company in mechanical engineering with regional roots was taken over by a large, internationally oriented holding company. The specialisation in various special constructions and machines with a high degree of customisation complemented the portfolio of the holding company perfectly. As a result of economic difficulties, Dr. Maier + Partner Interim Management GmbH was entrusted with filling the position of interim CFO with a strong hands-on mentality.

Initial situation

Bad business decisions led the company into an economic mess before the merger. In the post-merger phase, the entire company had to be reorganised and comprehensively restructured. After the restructuring was completed, four CFOs (who were also COOs) were replaced within only 20 months. Key employees were completely demotivated and threatened to leave the company. The CFO and COO positions remained vacant. The structures and communication - both between the internal divisions and with the new parent company - needed a comprehensive reappraisal. The smouldering conflicts and disputes endangered the certification of DQS - both for the company and for the entire holding.

Project requirements for the interim management mandate

Due to the structural problems, a manager with a hands-on mentality was needed who had post-merger, change management and coaching experience and who could move within the organisation of a group. A manager was needed who had integration experience in all commercial processes and could also lead the operations department. Since the purchased company is a small medium-sized enterprise, it should have a strong orientation towards medium-sized enterprises and an understanding of a medium-sized and traditional corporate culture. This resulted in the urgent requirement for the new manager to be able to get involved in the detailed work of medium-sized structures. This means that, under certain circumstances, accounting tasks and monthly reporting have to be prepared.

As the problems in the company were structurally pervasive and posed major challenges for the entire holding company, it was necessary to react quickly. For this reason, our client* opted for temporary staffing by an interim manager and commissioned Dr. Maier + Partner Interim Management GmbH. For us as an interim management provider, the challenge was not exclusively in the area of finance, despite the appointment of a CFO. Retaining and motivating the employees in key positions was also an essential task.

Goals of the Interim CFO

The main objectives of the interim management mandate were:

  • Management of the CFO area (including Controlling, ReWe, Human Resources and IT)
  • Development of a future concept for the site, as essential series of the company were at the end of the product life cycle
  • Integration and adaptation of the processes and structures in the purchased company in order to pass the certification audit of DQS
  • Consolidation according to HGB
  • Retain and motivate key staff  
  • Search and recruitment of an external CFO

Results and outlook

Parallel to the start of the interim CFO, Dr. Maier + Partner began the search for a new external CFO and a COO in long-term employment. They were able to join the company during the course of the project and were trained by the interim CFO so that they could take over the new tasks completely at the end of the project.

The structures and processes of the medium-sized company had to be adapted to the new requirements of the group, especially in the areas of finance and purchasing. Following this adjustment, all processes were audited by DQS and successfully certified according to DIN ISO. 

In parallel, a concept for the future was developed in consultation with the entire management team. The concept was presented after 5 months, found to be good by the group's board of directors and finally approved. Based on this concept, the new series of a machine is being developed in cooperation with a renowned consulting firm according to the methodology of a modular principle. The first prototype was put into operation at a customer after one year. After that, the older series were taken off the market piece by piece.

By steering the change management process, it was possible to motivate the managers again. The new future concept has also significantly improved motivation throughout the company.

The net profit for the year was slightly positive for the first time in years despite the poor order situation. This is due to the optimised product programme and strict cost management.

In the end, the project, which was initially planned for eight months, was extended by another four months.

The economic turnaround and restructuring by an expert from Dr. Maier + Partner Interim Management GmbH helped our client to balance its economic imbalance within a small window of time. Furthermore, it was possible not only to keep employees and managers in the company, but also to motivate them anew and make them burn for their work again. Thanks to the Dr. Maier + Partner concept, it was also possible to search for leadership personalities for our client in executive search in parallel. Thanks to the close interlocking of our business areas, it was thus possible to respond even better to the special requirements of our client in a dynamic and iterative process through the learnings in the interim management project and consistent communication.

*In this text, only the masculine form is used for better readability. The chosen masculine formulations also apply without restriction to all genders.