The Member Spotlight profiles and promotes members amongst the business community.
This feature is published on the Chamber website, in the weekly digest email, and across social media. Suitable articles may also be selected for inclusion in the Fingal Network Magazine and in regional print and digital media.
If you would like to be considered for inclusion, please submit your application here.
Ardmac is an international construction specialist that delivers complex high value workspaces and technical environments. With their head office in Swords, Co Dublin, and offices in Manchester, Craigavon and Brussels, Ardmac employs over 300 people and provides specialist construction services to the commercial fit out, life sciences and data centre sectors.Ardmac’s vision is to be the contractor of choice for clients, and the workplace of choice for great people. The company, founded in 1977, outlines its mission to ‘consistently provide the ultimate solution for high value working environments through continuous investment in the best people, technology, and processes’ and reviewing their activity in the past 12 months alone, it is clear to see how this frames their approach as a business.Most recently, Ardmac took the number 18 position in the Construction Industry Federation’s annual Top 50 contractors list in Ireland. With 55% of their business completed outside of Ireland, Ardmac have steadily grown their revenue year on year. Having worked with most of the top 10 global pharma companies, Ardmac have a number of global partnerships with the biggest names in medtech, pharma and technology, and in some cases have travelled with them as a strategic partner across multi territories. This flexibility represent some of Ardmac’s overseas expansion which accounts for 30% of their business across mainland Europe and secures Ardmac’s position as a world class construction specialist.Leading the teamLeading the team at Ardmac is Ronan Quinn, Chief Executive. A native of Beaumont, Ronan joined Ardmac in 1999 as Contracts Manager. With over 30 years’ experience in the Construction Industry, Ronan began his career in Project Management, following the completion of a Construction Technician Diploma in DIT Bolton Street.From early in his career, Ronan developed a range of leadership skills and expertise across commercial, retail, healthcare, leisure, pharmaceutical, life sciences and microelectronics market sectors, initially in construction management, and later in the deployment of resources within the Ardmac Group.In 2016, Ardmac completed a management buy out of Ardmac which saw Ronan become one of six owners of the Ardmac Group. Today, Ronan has operational responsibility for all Group activities.Ronan’s most memorable piece of advice was received at the formative stage of his career whilst being an understudy to an experienced and seasoned Project Manager in the London construction market. Ronan reflects, “He taught me to never compromise on what I valued to be important and, in a project sense, that applied most specifically to safety and quality on the job site. In life however, you can also apply it to your own personal integrity, your principles and core values.”Building BetterArdmac are seeing construction output continuing to grow in all the sectors they operate. Their Pharma and Data centre projects are strong performers with their fit-out business (serving the commercial, retail and industrial sectors in Ireland and the UK) also showing a strong pipeline. Their design and build business in Ireland to the Medical Device sector has also maintained consistency for many years now.Ronan is a member of the Institute of Directors and the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers and his passion is project management which is reflected in Ardmac’s approach to utilising business tools to improve scheduling and efficiency.Ardmac’s focus on working efficiently has seen the adoption of Lean and Last Planner into their business practices and now forms part of the Ardmac business strategy. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has also played an important role in the implementation of Lean Construction at Ardmac. Their teams have been using 3D design software from as early as 2006 and they continue to invest in software and hardware, refining their procedures and workflows to ensure continuous improvement.Their approach to introducing lean into their business was recognised in 2018, when Ardmac were named winners of the ‘Innovation in Construction’ category at the Irish Construction Industry annual awards.Future plansArdmac have begun to look at 4D simulations, mixing Microsoft Project schedules with Navisworks Manage to give greater flexibility, particularly supporting their mobile teams and the ongoing completion of projects on budget and on schedule.The team became members of Business in the Community (BITC) in the UK, supporting their approach as a responsible business which continues to be an area of focus for the team. “Doing the right thing, the right way has always been a driver for Ardmac, it forms part of our guiding principles, through Excellence as Standard.” says Ronan.Future plans for Ardmac include the continued growth of their specialist construction business across Europe. With entry planned into additional countries and ongoing work with leading companies, the team expect continued growth with over 340 expected to be in the team by the end of the year.Recent recruitment activity at Ardmac includes the appointment of Enda Murphy as Head of Engineering to the Ardmac team and Yvonne O’Sullivan as Head of Talent and Development.The sky is the limit for Ardmac, from a local Irish business to competing on a global stage.Ronan says, “Our ambition for the company is driven by our teams, we work to employ the brightest minds and work alongside world class companies, we look forward to the future and we are excited by the technology advances supporting the construction industry. Our track record is one we are proud of but none of it would be possible without having great people on our journey with us.”Should you wish to contact Ronan to discuss opportunities in your business, please email Ronan.Quinn@ardmac.comIf you are interested in a career in construction with Ardmac, contact email@example.com or visit www.ardmac.com for the latest company vacancies.You can also keep up to date with the latest Ardmac activity on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
Con O’Donoghue and Karen Devine, WhiteLight Consulting
WhiteLight Consulting are specialists in Event Management, Project Management and Corporate Communications. We offer our clients bespoke solutions for their events and communications needs.
The team at WhiteLight Consulting are headed up by co-founders Karen Devine and Con O’Donoghue. Both are highly experienced event and project managers. Karen is also highly experienced in PR and Corporate Communications while Con’s facilitation skills help clients focus on their goals.
They pride themselves on delivering projects, campaigns and events to the highest standards, and strive for excellence and delivery of flawless results for all of their clients. They always aim to set new standards for our clients and their stakeholders. They do this by gaining a deep understanding of their goals and objectives and then applying our meticulous attention to detail to deliver excellence.
They work for large and medium size organisation including The National Lottery, Enterprise Ireland, Dublin BIC, Fingal County Council, Louth County Council, LIFT and many others.
In 2018 they designed, created and project managed the National Lottery Good Causes Awards campaign which culminated in a gala awards ceremony and TV show. They provided project and event management services for Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur working alongside all 31 Local Enterprise Offices. FutureScope 2018 was a really interesting Tech conference in the Convention Centre and they really enjoyed helping with Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann in Drogheda. One of their favourite events is Flavours of Fingal County Show which is hosted by Fingal County Council and takes place in Newbridge House, Donabate. This is a family-friendly showcase of food family fun and enterprise in Fingal and last year was attended by over 80,000 people. This year’s event takes place on 29th – 30th June and promises to be another fantastic weekend.
They are delighted to say that they will be working on all these events again in 2019.
They work on a wide variety of events with audiences ranging from a couple of hundred to 80,000 so no two events or projects are the same and so two days are the same...that’s what makes the business so interesting and dynamic. It also gives them the energy and enthusiasm to consistently deliver for their clients.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR …
Karen and Con originally met in the depths of the recession. Back in 2011 their hometown of Drogheda was the centrepiece of an RTE series called Local Heroes which aimed to help communities across Ireland to generate jobs and bolster the local economy by working together. They were both working on the project in a voluntary capacity and we found that their skills jig-sawed together really well and they really enjoyed seeing the results of their collaboration.
So they took the leap and formed WhiteLight Consulting and 7 years later their business is thriving and continues to go from strength to strength.
FUTURE PLANS …
Their future plans are simple. Their goal is to continue to deliver excellence for their existing clients and work on some new events that are interesting and present them with different challenges.
A NUGGET OF EVENT PLANNING ADVICE …
WhiteLight say that if you are planning an event or a campaign for your business start by asking yourself what you are looking to achieve from it and make specific goals and objectives. Then you can develop the event that will deliver a clear objective.
They have a limited number of commercial opportunities available for Fingal businesses at Flavours of Fingal 2019 (29-30th June). If you’d like to explore these please get in touch. They have a number of packages available or alternatively, they can tailor a package to suit your particular needs. You can email Con on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you are thinking about holding an event or creating a marketing campaign, they would be delighted to talk to you. You can learn more about their events and campaigns by visiting their website www.wlc.ie or you can reach them on 041-9830142 or email Karen on email@example.com.
S & S Office Interiors
Alan Spain, S & S Office Interiors Ltd.
Alan Spain set up S & S Office Interiors in 2008 in a challenging business climate and at the height of the recession. Alan’s background is in sales, from office consumables and stationery to office furniture and he certainly always had the ambition to one day run his own company, and this month celebrates 10 years in business as S & S Office Interiors.
Personally for Alan the timing was right and through a combination of persistent networking, industry knowledge and hard work the company not only survived but flourished from a one-person company, operating from a single office in a shared building, to a 7 person team with a showroom and a warehouse, a turnover of almost €2 million and a reputation for being a trusted advisor and a provider of high quality office furniture.
In 2016 Alan completed a business management course with Pfizer and IBM which gave him the framework to put a 3-year business plan in place, setting some ambitious goals. Coming into year 3 of the plan the company is tracking well but there is still work to do. “There’s always room for improvement,” says Alan “It's important to not only set goals but to continuously check in on how your tracking towards them, and when goals are reached, set your next set of even bigger goals”.
2017 has been S & S Office Interiors most successful year to date, seeing the company securing a €1 million project with an international aviation company. Also taking on a new range, Winsted Command & Control Room furniture which has opened up a whole new market of potential clients and increasing their presence in the 24-hour furniture market. So what’s the secret to this success? According to Alan “Hard work always brings its own rewards. Don’t be afraid to go after the big jobs. Some smaller sized companies may be afraid of taking on projects that seem to be too big, but by building relationships with trusted contractors and having strong project management the sky is the limit”.
What’s next for S&S Office Interiors? 2018 is proving to be another successful year, seeing S & S branch out into the office stationery business. “We want to be a one-stop shop for all of our customer’s office needs. From flooring, partitioning, desks & chairs to the paper in the printer, S & S will be able to provide it all with the same dedication to meeting customer’s needs and expectations that they have come to rely on S & S for” says Alan. 2018 also sees the launch of a new website, with Alan firmly believing that your online presence has to be kept up to date and current “Your website is your shop-front to the world”.
Bright Sky Digital
Catherine Crean, Bright Sky Digital
Catherine and her co-founder and husband are new players in the Fingal Web Design and Development space. What makes this company different? Well, quite a few things actually. Think lean, think efficiency, think cloud based services.
Bright Sky Digital specialise in connecting their clients website, social media and digital marketing together. They will assure you that having a complete online presence allows customers to find you, do business with you and come back to you again and again.
‘We are putting together websites and services using a variety of mobile first and cloud based tools’ says Catherine. ‘We are predominantly using the Squarespace platform to design and develop websites for our clients. We know people don’t have a lot of time. We use industry standard tools to quickly create beautiful websites that perform really well. Not only do we love the Squarespace platform so much that we use it for our own site, but we recommend it to all our clients. Using a platform that is design-driven, user friendly and performance focussed gives us more time to talk to our clients about what they need, provide great customer service and support them as their business grows’.
These two returning emigrants have a vast amount of experience in the business and technology landscape. Catherine completed her BBS Degree in DCU, while Patrick studied for his B. Comm in UCD. Both completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Web Development in DIT in Dublin. Catherine continued on to complete an MSc in Multimedia in the University of Sussex. With the UK market also in need of technical graduates, they settled first in the trendy, upbeat city of Brighton and then moved to the faster pace of the London IT market. Patrick spent over 5 years working with Channel 4 on their websites, while Catherine built up an Ad Technology team for US Online giant, Yahoo! Family life became a priority and in 2012 they returned to Irish shores after a fruitful ten-year stretch in the UK.
The idea of Bright Sky Digital came about in 2015 as they juggled family life around their careers. Keeping their fingers on the digital pulse and being their own boss pushed them to go out alone. Using their corporate experience to help small and medium sized businesses to get online is the cornerstone of the ethos of the company. ‘We want to help small businesses take advantage of their potential online customer base. Approximately 20% of Irish businesses are not online’ says Catherine, ‘we want to make it easy for these companies to get a web presence and have a toolkit that they can understand and manage’.
Catherine explains how there are so many customers they have spoken to who don’t know how to update or access their websites. ‘SME’s don’t have the budget for IT departments and they can’t be experts in everything. However, it’s important to keep your site and your social media presence current. We can coach these companies through what they need and how to keep things simple but effective. We can manage client’s sites and online presence making sure they can attract local and international customers while focussing on their core businesses.
You can contact Bright Sky Digital Media on 01-5498332 or book an appointment through their website to discuss your companies needs: https://brightskydigital.com/
The Emmaus Centre
Michael Burns, The Emmaus Centre
The Emmaus Centre joined the chamber in 2017 and although it has been in business for over 40 years, many members previously may not have known the centre or what it was about. Michael Burns, Head of Business Development, joined as part of a new senior management team in October 2016.
“The Centre started out life as a training college for a religious order and then became a refugee centre in the 1970s during the Vietnam war, before then becoming a spiritual retreat centre. At our core, the spiritual retreat element is still very important to us, but we’ve added so much more over the years. Today we offer a fantastic residential conferencing and meetings centre as our main day to day service. We run workshops for individuals and for groups and corporates and you can book some of these online on our website or by coming and talking to us directly about your requirements”.
Like any business, the Emmaus Centre faces numerous challenges and have set about building a product fit for the 21st century to compete and to remain relevant for its clients. “One of the biggest challenges we had, when we came on board, was to simply build awareness, said Burns. “I found that awareness of our capabilities and services was really low, even in the immediate vicinity. Lots of people said that they often wondered what went on there, but often felt it looked very private and they might not be allowed in! Others thought it was still just a religious centre. Joining the Chamber has been an important part of building the local awareness among the business community here in the Fingal chamber area. It gives us a platform to speak directly to the local business community and an opportunity to build awareness and hopefully encourage them to drop in to see what it is we do”.
Given a large number of hotels in the Dublin area and particularly around the airport, you’d imagine that business can be very competitive, something Michael is acutely aware of. “We offer everything the typical hotel meeting or conference or training can offer, but we offer it in a very different atmosphere. There is a real sense of peace and tranquillity here. You won’t be rushed in and out of your room because the next customer is waiting. You won’t be run over by all the other guests milling around and competing for space. It is very private and relaxed. The centre is set in its own woodland estate with beautiful walks, free onsite car parking at the door, free high speed WiFi throughout, HD projectors or large screen TV displays in all meeting rooms, 65 ensuite bedrooms, 12 meeting rooms and a main conference centre holding over 200 guests , 2 dining rooms and 2 coffee lounges. Ultimately the peaceful feeling that was built into the DNA of the place still pervades. If you genuinely want a creative space to get away from it all and yet still be only 10 minutes from the airport, then Emmaus is somewhere you will want to check out. Our biggest problem is getting people to come here because they are not aware, but ironically once they come here and we give them a tour and chat to them about their requirements, we find an incredibly high sales conversion rate because most people really like what they see and even more importantly how they feel when they take the time to come here. So, my advice is to come and judge for yourself. We love to show visitors around and you’ll find the team here make a huge contribution to make you feel welcome and to give you an experience that is not the same as your average hotel for example. It’s a very different thing but you need to experience it for yourself so that’s why I always take great care to try and personally show potential customers around and make sure they experience the special feeling you get when you come here. It really is perfect for corporate conferences, meetings or training events. It’s much easier to get your people to concentrate on the reasons why you brought them here than if you had used a hotel venue for example. It’s very conducive to reflection and quality time, a truly creative space. Many people also come here just as individuals, not as part of a group, on one of our personal development programmes or public workshops, which can be booked through our website. We have also assembled a team of some of Ireland’s best business workshop facilitators, dealing with areas as diverse as executive leadership courses to mindfulness and stress management in the workplace. Creating a healthy and productive workplace with a real sense of mission is what we are all about.
Last year the centre saw growth of 19% and this year we are on target to grow again by another 20%. The word is getting out there. New first-time business is growing and equally importantly the frequency of repeat business is also significantly going up. Of course, there is always an open invitation to the members of the Chamber to drop in for a coffee and a tour and we’d love to see them anytime and hear all about their exciting plans for the future too.
Stephen Malone, Malone Group
Having worked in various engineering roles early in his career throughout the 1990s, mechanical engineer Stephen Malone decided in 1998 to go it alone. At that stage, he was employed by a US firm, which had shelved major investment plans in Ireland in light of the Asian financial crisis. However, buoyed by the insight he had already gained into how the engineering community operated, and with no major family commitments to hold him back, Malone set up Malone Group in 1999.
“Others I had worked with and went to college with weren't surprised,” Malone says of setting up his own company. “Thinking back to growing up I would have always had an idea that I would work for myself some day but it didn't go any further than that.”
Headquartered in Blanchardstown, Malone Group is an engineering and safety, project delivery business, which has grown into an industry-leading company managing projects throughout Europe and Canada.
When asked for some advice on running a business in the current environment, Malone highlights a reluctance ‘to think big’ as the most significant barrier to success. “That's my mantra and I think in the SME community that's what we need to do. We need to think bigger,” he says. “People in the early stages of business need to decide whether they want a ‘lifestyle company’ or they want something a little bit more than that. There are too many SMEs that just think of Ireland as their marketplace. Having seen how other countries operate, I think the Irish SME sector has an awful lot to offer and we just need to think bigger.”
Another key piece of advice Malone offers start-up founders is not to take on everything themselves. He advises entrepreneurs to identify what aspects of the business they excel at and where their weak points are. Whatever you’re not good at, Malone says, that's what you outsource.
“I think too many people, myself included, try to do everything themselves and it is a limitation to growth,” he says. “There are things that we are all naturally good at and there are other things that we're not good at. It's important to be honest with yourself and have a degree of self-awareness.”
Malone warns that taking on too much equates to unnecessary stress on a company. “There are a lot of owner/managers that need to be in control of everything and that is restrictive in terms of growth and you have to get the right skills around you,” he advises. “If you're paying somebody for advice, listen to the advice, but certainly outsource things like IT, outsource things like payroll, outsource the day-to-day stuff that gets in the way of doing what you need to do to scale a business.”
Malone Group had a strong year in 2017, following on from heavy investment within the company including a move to replace all its internal systems with one ERP (enterprise resource planning). It culminated in a Best Business Practice Excellence Award win at the Fingal Dublin Business Excellence & CSR Awards. “That's down to the team I have around me,” says Malone modestly. “I am the figurehead of the company but I have a lot of talented people who work here.”
Last year also saw Malone Group scale further through the acquisition of two new businesses – a recruitment firm and a process and ordination company. “In terms of the goals we set ourselves, in pursuit of our five-year strategy plan, we succeeded in our objectives for 2017,” says Malone. The company is currently assessing a suitable entry point into North America, which Malone hopes to launch at some stage.