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THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST AUGUST 7 2011

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OUT ON YOUR OWN

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PEOPLE BUSINESS All enquiries to PIB@sbpost.ie

On course to swing the best deals for golfers Tiernan Byrne and Stephen Pitcher Company: Par Four Purchasing Position: co-founders and directors Location: Dublin Brendan O’Meara, co-founder, PMO Lean Solutions

TONY O’SHEA

By Eleanor Rosney As a child Tiernan Byrne was immersed in everything golfrelated. He worked in all areas in his parents’ golf club, from looking after the greens to serving customers in the restaurant. He has since made a career out of his passion and recently set up new venture Par Four Purchasing to broker cut-price deals on goods and services for golf clubs. Byrne, who established the venture with his business partner, Stephen Pitcher, describes it as Ireland’s first golf procurement company. He maintains it could help club-owners to cut costs by up to 15 per cent. Pitcher graduated from University College Dublin in 1986 with a Degree in Law and has worked in procurement ever since. He was property manager in

Turning small firms into lean machines Tiernan Byrne and Stephen Pitcher, co-founders and directors, Par Four Purchasing Britain for companies including First Leisure and Allied Domecq and more recently worked in Ireland as Aviva’s executive manager for procurement and property. He is director of Castledale Property Management, Stepping Stone and Provide Consulting. Byrne studied engineering in the Dublin Institute of Technology, graduating in 2002. He is director of St Helens Bay Golf Resort, Citrus Golf En-

terprises and Club Choice Ireland. ‘‘Golf was always a passion of mine,’’ said Byrne. ‘‘My parents own St Helens Bay Golf Resort and Tuskar Rock Golf Club in Wexford and I knew growing up that if I ever had the chance to work in the golf industry, I would do it. ‘‘I was very familiar with all aspects of running a golf club and so was aware of the difficulties clubs faced in getting quality services and products

at a good price.’’ Membership of Par Four costs e500. Members get procurement advice and specially negotiated supplier rates on a range of goods and services, including phones, printing and equipment. According to Pitcher, golf clubs collectively spend more than e261 million annually on non-employee costs. By cutting outgoings in this area, he maintains the average club could save at least e45,000 a

year ^ a total annual saving of e20 million for the industry. ‘‘We found huge variances in the prices paid for commodity products such as telephony,utilities and fuel,’’ he said. ‘‘We firmly believe that the biggest threat to Ireland’s golf industry is the lack of planning and procurement expertise, which means it is almost impossible to control costs effectively.This can be easily managed through proper planning and benchmarking.’’

Online solution for easier parenting Barbara Finucane Company: Parenthood.ie Position: founder and editor Location: Clare

By Eleanor Rosney When Barbara Finucane’s twin daughters hit the terrible twos, she exhausted every avenue possible in a bid to get good parenting advice. She felt that while a lot of the information she found was relevant, it was aimed primarily at Amer-

ican and British parents. Finucane decided to create an online facility for Irish parents where they could get advice on different topics and find out what worked best for them and their child. The result was parenthood .ie. Finucane was born in South America and raised in Sweden,where she studied journalism and worked as the editor of a leading women’s and fashion magazine. She also worked in publishing in Canada and in public relations for Viasat Broadcasting in Britain. She met her husband, Kevin, in Stockholm and they settled in Toonagh, Co Clare, five years ago. Her own early parenting experiences and wide-ranging media experience led her to es-

Barbara Finucane tablish Parenthood.ie. ‘‘When the girls were born, we needed information and what I found seemed to be very clinical. They told me what the

children were feeling and experiencing and that is great, but I needed to know what to do with them. ‘‘The idea to set up a website came when they hit the terrible twos. So many books and magazines advised parents to wait it out and advised that the tantrums will pass, but I needed a strategy to survive the passing,’’ she said. ‘‘I got tired of reading about parenting in the US and Britain. While some basic parenting issues can be dealt with in the same way, I want Parenthood.ie to represent the Irish parent’s perspectives on raising children in Ireland.’’ Finucane’s aim is to funnel parenting advice that is already ava i l able i nto qu i ck and straightforward articles and guides. Her site covers a range of

parenting topics, from first stages of conception, through pregnancy and raising babies and toddlers. ‘‘I truly believe that there is not just one solution to a problem for one family. You need to be presented with a range of options and try them all to see what works best for you,’’ she said. Since launching in June 2010, Parenthood.ie has gone from strength to strength. Finucane believes this is because of Irish parents’ genuine need for information. ‘‘The website took off mostly by word of mouth. I have done very little in terms of marketing and I want to explore and expand on that.With my multilingual background, I would like to adapt the website and take it to other countries in the future,’’ she said.

Exploring the business of exporting goods QUESTION I run a small company selling consumer products. We are just getting started and I would like to find out more about exporting. Bearing in mind I have a limited budget, what are the business issues I should be aware of?

ANSWER A well-planned approach to preparing for expansion overseas can maximise the potential of your global operations. Research shows that exporting companies are more productive than non-exporters. They achieve stronger financial results and are more likely to stay in business. However, doing business in another country can be a challenge. You will face new tax and regulatory systems, and cultural differences. There will be withholding taxes on repatriation of profits and other issues like transfer pricing to consider. Ensuring a smooth transition requires more than simply establishing a new legal entity or registered office. Few companies seeking to sell overseas are sufficiently aware of the non-sales issues that can arise. Pricewaterhou-

C0MPANY MATTERS seCoopers’ 2010 Paying Taxes Report listed Ireland as the sixth-easiest country to pay taxes in, out of a total of 182. This suggests that first-time exporters could face challenges getting to grips with tax regimes in other markets. Ten years ago, the majority of Ireland’s exports went to Britain, the US and mainland Europe, where language and cultural barriers were not a major issue. Even then, issues arose. In the US, for example, companies were generally aware that the federal tax rate was 35 per cent. However, few realised they were also potentially liable to pay sales, franchise and city taxes, which could increase this rate to between 45 and 55 per cent. Never mind the 30 per cent withholding tax on payments back to Ireland if sufficient documentation was not put in place. Today, companies continue to invest in these territories. However, we have seen a trend towards investment in countries like China, India, Malay-

sia and Brazil. There are a lot more stumbling blocks to face in these countries, not only from a tax and regulatory perspective, but also in terms of language and culture. With more Irish companies expanding into these markets, it is getting easier to source individuals here with the requ i re d lang u ag e sk i l ls. Companies are also increasingly talking to each other to gain a better understanding of the cultural issues they need to be aware of. I know of one company that decided to expand into Malaysia and sent a salesperson there to drum up business. He spent a lot of time on the ground, and one of the Irish directors also travelled there every month to sign new contracts. Following one particular visit, it came to light that a lot of the work could have been done from Ireland with just a few ad hoc tr ips over the course of the year. If the company had planned for this expansion, it would have been saved the hassle and cost of re-

This week’s expert is Joe Tynan, tax partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers gistering for tax, filing tax returns and paying Malaysian tax at a rate of 25 per cent. This is because a company can generally do business in Malaysia without having a taxable presence there, provided all contracts are signed outside Malaysia and, depending on your line of business, individuals are not on the ground for significant periods of time in any 12-month period. We have highlighted a number of the stumbling blocks you could face. However, in our experience, one of the biggest challenges can be that expand-

ing abroad means you are no longer just an Irish company, but a multinational entity. Compared to other MNCs, the spending budgets available are significantly less. This should not deter you from planning in advance though as, in the long run, understanding and planning for these issues will save you money. An in-depth review is not required. However, we would recom mend that you have a high-level conversation with an adviser or another company in your line of business that has also tried to expand into the same country. They will not only be able to point out the main stumbling blocks you could face and how to deal with them, but may also be able to help you to secure additional funding to grow your business. Each week, financial, legal and business advisers will answer your questions on a range of small business issues. If you are facing a business dilemma or simply need a sounding board, contact Company Matters. Questions should be sent to: Company Matters, The Sunday Business Post, 80 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. E-mail: companymatters@sbpost.ie

By Elaine O’Regan Brendan O’Meara believes job cuts are rarely the best solution to cutting costs in a tough market. ‘‘The first thing people look at when they want to cut costs is usually headcount, but people are your most important asset,’’ he said. ‘‘They know how the processes in your company work, what the problems are and, in a lot of cases, they have the best ideas on how to resolve these problems.’’ As co-founder of Dublin firm PMO Lean Solutions, O’Meara has joined forces with business partner Ronan Niland to offer SMEs a cost-cutting service for projects and processes. ‘‘Our goal is the make small businesses leaner and to remove the waste and the non value-added activities (NVAs),’’ he said. ‘‘We act as an outsourced project management office overseeing projects and mapping processes for waste and NVA elimination.’’ A qualified aircraft engineer,O’Meara began his career with the Air Corps in the late

Brendan O’Meara Company: PMO Lean Solutions Position: co-founder Location: Dublin

1970s. He but found himself out of work for the first time two years ago, when he was made redundant from his position as base leader for continuous improvement with SR Technics in Dublin Airport. Following a three-month project management placement with Adria Airlines in Slovenia, O’Meara decided to make use of his experience in Six Sigma production methods to move into new areas. ‘‘In 2002, I trained with British consultancy Telerant in Lean Six Sigma and, two years later, following completion of two projects and mentoring of green belts, I got my certification as a Six Sigma black belt,’’ he said. ‘‘As an engineer, I

worked in heavy maintenance and line maintenance, but I was always interested in processes and projects generally and in how we do things and how we can improve them.’’ O’Meara established PMO Lean Solutions with Niland last March, working with Bewley’s to increase output at its tea and coffee production facility off Dublin’s Malahide Road. ‘‘My role was to carry out administrative functions to support two Lean Six Sigma projects,’’ he said. ‘‘The main project was to increase production on the roast coffee bean line by 10 per cent. I surpassed that and achieved an agreed 17 per cent increase and also left a business case with a return on investment, which would generate an additional 10 to 15 per cent increase. ‘‘Projects fail in small companies when there is no governanc e, so ours is a proje ct management service specifically for SMEs. ‘‘We engage with the workforce in companies, ask them what the problems are and try to find the right solutions by working with them.’’


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