Established in 1971, Toly had become a global supplier of high quality packaging for the cosmetics industry, yet in late 2013, the CEO, Andy Gatesy, felt the business was stuck with annual turnover flatlined at around €50+m. It was around this time that Andy invited Simon Preston of RISE to take a look and offer his insights. Today, in 2018, Toly is confidently heading for a turnover of €100m and despite the complexity of rapidly changing markets, they can continue to make significant strides into new markets and areas of growth.
So what changed to enable this rapid period of growth? And what can be learned from the experience to continue faster learning and smarter decision making?
“Many of the key factors that would lead to our compound 20% p.a. growth were latent strengths within the business,” said Andy, “yet our executive management team simply wasn’t pulling together sufficiently.” A rather ‘cluttered’ approach to organising and decision making meant there was insufficient focus on emerging strategies with real potential. “Our executive team had to be more frank with one another and identify the ‘elephants in the room’. Simon asked us what the most important things were that we should be discussing, even if we didn’t at that time have the trust or conversational skills to do so. We began holding more fertile and productive discussions around these areas of conflict - and encouragingly did this without the team or individual relationships imploding!”
The importance of holding high quality conversations we (RISE) believe is paramount for collaboration, and Toly continue striving to improve their capacity to share, listen to perspective and speak authentically with one another. What was started at the Executive team level has now been extended to their global management group in their pursuit of business excellence. Yet, despite the improved performance over the past few years at a multitude of levels, there is a long way to go. “We’re very much alert to the brutal reality that baby elephants will continue to emerge. We need to maintain a high level of shared self-awareness and courage to tackle them in the early stages not let them sit and fester. Our leaders all conceptually understand that it’s important to hold high quality conversations, yet the reality of day to day business can interrupt our desire to be better. Our ability to be able to consistently pull ourselves back together and up the standard of our communication I believe is the difference between value creation and value destruction.”
The relentlessly entrepreneurial spirit of Andy Gatesy in addition to the deep immersion of the top executives in the market, means that Toly are unlikely to be blindsided, but it’s always possible. The change that has emerged over the past few years is the ability to spot and see patterns more clearly, talk about them more effectively and take more thought-through action. In a market where new entrants are partnering with celebrities and sports stars to attract attention and market share, the dominant, traditional beauty brands are suffering. It becomes necessary to deploy agile market strategies as well as developing relationships with suppliers. It can no longer be about a cost-only procurement mindset - with long delivery pipelines, low levels of trust and limited scope for experimentation. It requires innovation and collaboration, which to its credit, Toly has embraced and has been central to its growth. The construction of a new HQ in Malta is a manifestation of Toly's emerging approach and change in mindset. As Andy says, it will be “a place to show that our desire to partner with our clients in delivering their products and their dreams, is so much more than simply a supplier mindset.”
Supporting Toly getting ‘unstuck’ has been a learning journey for both Toly and RISE. What are Simon Preston’s reflections on their four year client journey? “The importance of partnership can’t be emphasised highly enough,” said Simon. “Whilst the buck always stops with the client, it takes time and trust to embed the habits and practices that make a company like Toly more agile, adaptable and resilient.”