Charles Knott – Flint Group
By David Savastano
On Sept. 1, 2007, Charles Knott assumed the role of CEO for Flint Group, succeeding Dave
He has extensive experience in the global specialty chemical business, having had a successful career leading and developing companies within Unilever plc and ICI plc. Key positions that he has held include president and COO of National Starch & Chemical, based in North America, and executive vice president Asia-Pacific, based for six years in Singapore, where he developed business in all areas of the Far East, in particular in China.
Most recently, Mr. Knott has served for four years as chairman and CEO of Quest International, a flavors and fragrances subsidiary of ICI until its sale to Givaudan in early 2007. Mr. Knott was a member of the executive board of ICI and is currently a non-executive director of Imperial Tobacco Group plc. This experience will be essential to Mr. Knott’s efforts at Flint Group.
“In my previous role as chairman and CEO of Quest International, a leading fragrance company, we turned the business around through a focused market/customer strategy to enable the company to excel in particular segments of the industry,” Mr. Knott noted. “At the same time, we radically simplified the internal cost structures. This created £1B of shareholder value in four years. Another highlight has to be the six years that I spent in Asia/Pacific, where the management team and I had mutual respect for each others’ cultures, strengths and challenges. We created a management system that enabled everyone to participate in building a successful business – and had a lot of fun delivering some excellent results.”
Mr. Knott said that the leadership team at Flint Group and the opportunities he sees for Flint Group led him to join the company.
“I was very impressed with the vision of Dave Frescoln and our shareholders in bringing together such a breadth of product offering to the printing industry in a short space of time,” Mr. Knott said. “I was attracted to the Group as I saw an exciting opportunity to help the company achieve its full potential. Flint Group has made enormous progress since it was formed in 2005.
“The challenge now is to nurture all of the knowledge and technology on a global basis to become the supplier of choice for customers, whatever their size or location,” Mr. Knott added. “We have a vast pool of knowledge, experience and talent in place, and I look forward to focusing our efforts on driving value for our customers and growth for our organization.
“We are faced with the same challenges our customers have,” Mr. Knott said. “Everyone wants to have better – ideally, differentiated – products at a lower and lower cost. This puts demands on innovation in the broadest sense of the word, but also requires a mindset that continuous improvement in all aspects of our business is a license to operate, not a goal in its own right.”
Mr. Knott’s background in specialty chemicals and global operations should pay dividends for Flint Group.
“I am very familiar with the specialty chemical industry, which means I have a good appreciation of the need for products to perform first time, every time in our customers’ processes, and that delivering value/cost-in-use is about understanding a lot more than just the products that are being offered,” Mr. Knott said. “It is ultimately about how we positively impact the cost/performance/quality balance of our customers’ products. This requires a blend of technology and human capital. We at Flint Group have both, but need more.
“In addition, I have also worked and lived in many continents, and recognize the value of cultural differences, and moving good ideas around,” he added. “We need to have a seamless global connection of knowledge and technology that we can deliver locally, regionally or globally, depending upon the needs of our customers.”
All in all, Mr. Knott is looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead for Flint Group.
“The people bring exceptional knowledge, experience and dedication that go well beyond products,” Mr. Knott said. “We need to make sure we leverage that capability to bring maximum value to our customers. We will also focus on the role of technology in our business – whether that is in product development, internal process improvements or innovative partnerships with our customers. In addition, I have been impressed by the clear commitment of the shareholders to support growth both organically and through acquisition. We’re in an exciting time of change; our challenge is to turn changes into opportunities.”