SITE: UNIQ, MINSTERLEY
INTERIM MANAGER: MARK SALISBURY
Mark Salisbury could hardly have picked a tougher first assignment when he decided to take the plunge into the world of interim management back in May 2006.
After studying an M.Sc. in Agri-Food Business at Buckingham University, Mark, 39, had enjoyed 10 years steady career progression within the meat and poultry sector culminating in a general management role at a £90 million turnover Dawn Meats Business.
However, Mark opted to join a select team of interims brought together by AIM Managing Director Alan Donaldson to help support the new management team tackle what must have been one of the food industry’s toughest challenges … to turnaround the fortunes of Uniq’s ailing Minsterley desserts factory.
Almost two years later, the site which was losing a staggering £16 million a year, is operating at breakeven and Mark is able to reflect on what he describes as ‘a seminal moment’ in his career.
“If I am honest I think is was the sheer enormity of the Minsterley situation that really attracted me, I had been thinking about moving into interim management and when Alan approached me about a role there it just felt like too big a challenge to turn down.
“I had spent my entire career in the meat industry and having got to General Manager level I felt ready for a change of direction. One of the downsides of general management is that you have to spread yourself across a wide range of disciplines which means you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to make a real impact in any one specific area.
“The attraction of interim work was that it gave me the chance to move into a totally new sector and, more importantly to really specialise on the operations side. It did mean that I had to be prepared to go in at a level below where I was used to operating but, in the early days, that gave me the head space I needed to get underneath the skin of the business.
“What I did find very early on was that despite all of the issues at Minsterley the new management had started to put in place the investment, vision, measures and metrics needed to underpin the recovery. At the same time there were a lot of really talented people that were really committed to turning the business around.”
Having initially gone to Minsterley as one of AIM’s four interim factory shift managers Mark was quickly seconded to the core team assembled to deliver a critical restructure of shift patterns.
“We identified the need to move from a 24 hour operation to 12 which took an incredible amount of planning against a very short timescale and I can genuinely say I have not been involved in such a well planned execution of change in my entire career. Clearly it was a very challenging time however the fact we up against such a strong imperative really made it easy to make some tough decisions.
“In just 12 weeks we planned, communicated and implemented a restructure that took more that £4 million worth of cost out of the business.”
As part of that restructure Mark assumed a new interim role as Operations Director of Minsterley’s desserts production facility where he played an integral part in the introduction of Lean Manufacturing at the plant.
“To me, the most important thing about Lean is ensuring that it is genuinely embedded in the DNA of a business, like most food industry professionals I have had experience of Lean initiatives in the past however the real difference at Minsterley is that we made sure that it became a way of life.”
Such was the impact of the work he did at Minsterley, Mark has now decided to pursue a career as a Lean Specialist, “Naturally I am proud to have played some part in the turnaround of Minsterley, it is a great business with an excellent management team that is well placed to go from strength to strength over the coming years. On a personal note my period of interim management was a hugely positive experience that gave me the opportunity to focus on the future direction of my career.
“The real bonus for me has been about the strength of my relationship with Alan and Kate at AIM, they really took the time to understand what I wanted out of an interim role and then put a great deal of effort into finding exactly the right opportunity.”