The appointment of David Williams as Chairman has help to guide Tharsus as the business completes transition from traditional sheet metal basher to leader in the original equipment design and manufacture sector.
Williams joined the Blyth based company at the end of 2012, and CEO Brian Palmer firmly believes that it marks the next stage in Tharsus’ growth.
Palmer defines the company as being in the third stage of the development of a business. “It’s just like growing up. We have gone from being an owner managed business, through being entrepreneur led to becoming a professional business. We aren’t a teenager any more!”
Palmer had identified the need for help as the business was starting to grow rapidly. “We were aware that none of the management team had the experience of running and developing a bigger business, but knew that we would grow faster if we had the right people to help us.”
At that point he turned to Lucy Armstrong, chief executive of The Alchemists. As a result of their analysis Lucy Armstrong drew up a short list of potential candidates for a nonexecutive Chairman, which included David Williams.
The Alchemists is a unique organisation which works with ambitious, fast growing entrepreneurial companies who have reached a critical point in their development, whether maturing from what Palmer described as the teenage stage, or passing succession from one generation to the next.
Brian Palmer was very clear about what he didn’t want: “I did not want someone who was collecting another non-executive role to add to their portfolio, someone who was going to take an analytical, hands off approach. What we wanted was someone who was willing to grapple the challenges ahead with us.”
Their first meeting with David Williams was encouraging. His background as CEO of Serimax, a global specialist oil and gas welding service company, meant he understood the complexities and challenges of Tharsus’ business. He has also spent 17 years in private equity, so is ideally placed to navigate future funding requirements.
There was a mutual respect, coupled with an encouraging personal chemistry. This was equally important to Palmer: “I needed someone whom I could respect, but also someone who had the ability to laugh and be frank with me.”
Six months on, Palmer is galvanised by the changes taking place on the business. They are continuing to work with The Alchemists to develop their expertise and skills, preparing for potential investments.
“We are building an organisation for the business to grow. David is very focused on structures and managing people so that they understand their responsibilities but are also encouraged to identify and go for opportunities.
“In the past I was only accountable to myself – and my wife. This has changed. We have separated my role as shareholder from my role as a manager in the business. By depersonalising that relationship I have a clear responsibility to the board, while David as chairman is responsible to the shareholders.”
This clarity and maturity has invigorated the company. As Palmer says: “We now have big ideas. We know what we are doing and why we are doing it. We are ideally positioned to grasp the next big opportunity.”