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Innovation drives Greenhous success

For most companies, having stability at board level is crucial to medium- and long-term prosperity – whether a football team, utilities firm or car retailer. But when Greenhous underwent a management buy-out (MBO) in 2004, it was the third change of ownership in 15 years.

Far from de-stabilizing the company, however, the group claims that every buy-out has given fresh impetus. Each decision to sell was made by senior management who had implemented good ideas but were looking to retire and draw their pension from the business. Their exit strategy created natural progression, and on all three occasions a succession plan was already in place.

Keith Sayfritz, part of the second MBO team in 1998, has been the one constant factor during that time. He has been with Greenhous for 30 years, spending 16 of them as managing director, until the most recent buy-out in 2004. He’s now non-executive chairman.

“It’s always been a case of passing the baton from one management team to another from within the company and it’s been tremendously beneficial for the company,” Sayfritz says. “The ethos has been maintained.”

The 2004 MBO, headed by now joint owners and managing directors Kerry Finnon and Derek Passant, had to fend off interest from a rival group that had already made an approach. However, the board’s preferred option was for the internal management to take control, to ensure that the culture would continue.

The outside interest meant the MBO happened sooner than many expected. “The 2004 MBO was a surprise to everyone, but it has been welcomed by staff and life moves on. Derek and Kerry are continuing in the same style and approach – it’s been a seamless transition,” adds Sayfritz.

Greenhous is divided into two operational parts. Passant oversees the franchised business consisting of 10 dealerships. He is a symbol of the Greenhous training programme, having joined on a young workers trainee scheme, where one of his jobs was to fuel group founder Vincent Greenhous’s Rolls-Royce.

“Derek worked his way up through sheer ability to become a company owner. There isn’t a job he hasn’t done,” says Sayfritz...(Article continues in September 8 issue of AM)

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