Two years as CEO – Wila has shattered the glass ceiling

Ilhami Alici now celebrates his second anniversary as CEO of Wila. An occasion we mark by taking a look at his achievements before turning our attention to his new goals.

If you are familiar Wila, you most likely also know CEO Ilhami Alici. The CEO title not only entails strategic responsibility, Ilhami Alici is also one of the company’s most famous faces to the outside world. But this was not always the case. Until two years ago, owner Lars Lauridsen together with his wife, Jette Wittrup, headed the strategy development and marketing of the company. A strong team, but not one that was scalable.

Lars Lauridsen had a clear desire to see a smooth generational transition, where the responsibilities and corporate roles could be distributed to a wider team. When Dansk Ejerkapital became an investor in the company, their assistance in securing this transition was part of the overall agreement.

“A new CEO was the first step in creating the team that was to develop Wila for the future. We sought a profile with experience in international growth, who also understood what a growth process requires so that the organisation would not break in the process. Ilhami has great experience with the bottom-line responsibility and commercial development of a company across national borders, so he was the right match,” says Sune Fraes Diernæs, partner at Dansk Ejerkapital, and adds:

“It was important to us that customers would continue to experience Wila as a stable partner, even after the generational transition. We believe that we have succeeded.”

Many initiatives in a short time 

So, what has happened in the past two years where Ilhami Alici has been the responsible frontrunner for Wila’s growth journey?

“I become part of Wila at a time when Wila, in the words of Lars, Jette and Dansk Ejerkapital, had hit the glass ceiling, which implies that there was plenty of growth potential, but that it would require new and stronger competencies to utilize this potential. It was therefore natural that we first assessed where such stronger competencies were needed and subsequently develop the team. Another challenge we had was to go from a very entrepreneurial organisational structure to an organisation with more clearly defined roles and responsibilities. I think we have come a long way in building the organisation without losing motivated and skilled key employees along the way. This is important because they are our core,” says CEO Ilhami Alici.

Just 14 days after starting with Wila, Ilhami Alici has visited some of their biggest customers to learn more about how to address the development process.

“I found out that customers saw Wila as their preferred business partner. Our high quality and profound level of competencies gave them a sense of security and supported their preference for using us. But they wanted even greater security of delivery. We have worked a lot with this, so that our delivery performance today is 98 percent,” says Ilhami Alici.

Stronger international presence

A fleet of initiatives has been launched, which have picked up solid tailwind. Wila has initiated a go-to-market strategy and has become more focused on the niche process industries, which involves the dairy, brewery and pharmaceutical industries, and has optimised the internal processes by implementing Lean. But what are the next steps on Wila’s journey?

“We need to boost commercial activities, through further strengthening our sales organization and at the same we also want to maintain our high customer service,” This means, among other things, hiring more sales people in Silkeborg, and that we continuously expand our distributor network. We must also exploit the potential offered by the distributors with whom we are currently partnering, so they can provide the same quality of service that our customers are already familiar with. It is important that customers cannot differentiate between trading directly with us or with our distributors,” explains Ilhami Alici, while Sune Fraes Diernæs adds:

“For the past two years, Wila has spent a lot of energy getting ready for the international scaling. The internal processes have become more robust. Now, it is about strengthening our international presence,” he says.

Ilhami Alici recognises the importance of getting out and about to meet the customers eye-to-eye and maintain good relationships. He therefore hopes that travel activity will soon return to normality so that he and his colleagues at Wila can visit customers and partners.

“It has been important for Wila throughout the journey to always engage with customers so that we not only look inwards, but also focus on customer reactions. We believe in all modesty that we have succeeded in this, while at the same time boosting proactive sales, despite the pandemic,” he concludes.

“At Wila A/S, we have a dedicated and skilled staff who perform all tasks with common sense, great professionalism, pride and expertise.”