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Issue 1 | June 2018

Bank Of Ireland

The Fingal Team Who Regularly Back Business

A Word To The Wise

Fingal Women In Business

Fingal Leaders Interviews with Oisín Geoghegan & Anthony Cooney Supported By

Pictured: David Mc Geough & Andrew Keenan (Bank Of Ireland)

S & S Office Interiors

We talk to Alan Spain “A Man On A Mission”

Wiley Design

“Good For Business”


“The Future Is Here”


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EDITOR’S LETTER Welcome to the very first issue of Fingal Business Magazine. We are thrilled to introduce our brand new high quality publication filled with stories, inspiration and journeys of superb entrepreneurs in this exceptionally vibrant business community. The Magazine wouldn’t be what it is without the support of The Fingal Chamber of Commerce, Bank of Ireland and Fingal Enterprise Board to whom we offer our sincere gratitude. Each business featured in our first issue is uniquely different from the next but what’s similar is the steadfast values they all share such as quality service, dedication, integrity, passion and an unwavering respect for their clients and customers. Meeting each and every one has been an eye opening experience and has cemented the idea that Fingal is a particularly exciting and thriving region for commerce. We hope you enjoy reading this as much as we enjoyed creating it. Fingal Business Magazine Team.

“My role is to ensure that the chamber is represented at the highest level in local and national government and is actively engaging with the business community at all levels. We also try where possible to encourage interaction with fellow chambers, not only in the Fingal region but across Ireland.” Anthony attended an event held by the Belfast Chamber of Commerce recently and spoke of the importance of fostering relationships with other local chambers.

An interview with Fingal Dublin Chamber CEO Anthony Cooney

Anthony Cooney was appointed chief executive officer of Fingal Dublin Chamber just 8 months ago but has already propelled the organisation into the modern digital age with progressive technology, an innovative communications platform and a vision for even more growth and prosperity for one of Ireland’s most vibrant business communities.

well as educational programmes. For example, we ran an event recently about PAYE modernisation, primarily aimed at smaller businesses because larger enterprises would have knowledge within the company and the capacity to deal with it whereas the smaller companies are so busy working in their business they need people like us to provide that sort of platform for educational items.”

Fingal is a thriving region for commerce with a wide array of varied businesses from the global big names to the small local enterprises, each one adding their own importance to the rich tapestry of enterprise in the area.

“The collection for tax in going to change from January 2019, it’s really important that the SME sector is aware and compliant. The Revenue commissioners and Pimbrook software Solutions, a chamber member, were guest speakers and it was a very informative event and events like these are hugely advantageous to business owners.”

The Dublin county has seen strong growth in recent years and the Chamber of Commerce is more committed than ever to enhancing Fingal’s position as an economic hub of activity. Anthony Cooney took over the Chamber’s CEO role in September of last year and has clocked up enough hours in the business world to understand the trials and challenges of business life. The Malahide resident has over 20 years of commercial and corporate senior leadership experience with a number of organisations in Ireland and the UK. He is not long in his new role but is already leading the chamber into an exciting new era. But what exactly does the chamber do?

“Fingal Dublin Chamber provides advice and advocacy and lobbies on behalf of the business community in Fingal. We run Networking and social events as


“There is an Eastern corridor between Belfast and Cork as the east coast of Ireland has 65 percent of the population in residence. We try and project the image of the chamber in a very professional light and interact and engage actively with national and local politicians”

Anthony talks about the organisation and how it makes huge efforts to enhance business life in the county and support members at every level but what are the benefit for local businesses to be involved with Fingal Chamber? “I was always a great believer in my own business life in going to events because you never know who you might meet and it’s always good to have contacts at different levels of organisations, from the very bottom to the very top, because irrespective of what issue comes across your desk you can resolve it,” he says, adding “You gain contacts in the events that the chamber run and people have a number of ways of engaging with us.” The role of head of the chamber is a wide a varied one according to the CEO.

Part of the new CEO’s brief was to modernise and introduce new systems and processes into the workings of the chamber with Anthony achieving this well before the deadline. “We Initially aimed to have these systems in place within 2 years but they were up and running within six and a half months.” “We have implanted an updated sage accounting package, introduced a new CRM system and relaunched an easy to navigate website linking our four platforms for social mediaFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. They all have a live feed to our website. Everything is in real time now and we need to respond to that.” “I have recruited a communications manager to communicate effectively with our members inviting them to events, addressing issues in the area and providing educational information,” he comments, “We also have a new e-zine that goes out monthly so there are many positive and exciting things happening. We have a new billing system that is inextricably linked with our CRM system so instead now of having a lot of different access databases we have it all in one centralised database,” he adds. Anthony has also used his own experience in enterprise to address issues of his members. “People in business are so busy, their phone is constantly ringing. They have customers, suppliers and staff to deal with on a daily basis. We have members of all sizes from the DAA and Aer Lingus to eateries and corners hops but we treat them all equally and interact with them all.”

What advice would he give anyone thinking of starting a business?

“Engage with your local enterprise office. We have an excellent one in Fingal headed up by Oisin Geoghagan. I would also suggest getting a mentor and that’s something we can help with. Someone from a different walk of life can put another perspective on things and a different view is always good as long as it’s not obstructive,” he says, adding “People get consumed internally in a business starting out, you need someone to have an over arching view of it and the environment they are operating in.” Fingal Chamber and County Council work in unison on local issues and have built a strong relationship over the years as Anthony explains. “Fingal County Council has been very helpful to me over the last few months. They are hugely involved and very hands on. We had a council committee meeting recently and set up three different sub committees out of it, two of whom have already met on their relative subject.” “The council is very progressive and pro business and really open in relation to dealing with us, the chamber, as we are with them,” he comments, continuing he says, “They are superbly led by Paul Reid who is a really dynamic chief executive and also Ed Hern who is the director of Economic Development and Tourism.” So what are the biggest challenges for businesses at the moment?

The cost of doing business is too high. We are very tightly regulated which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but too stringent a regulation can be an inhibitor to business. If you operate a business north of the border you will probably run it at a little under half of the cost of operating in the Republic of Ireland. It’s far more efficient financially to have a business 60 miles away than it is in Dublin. Labour and infrastructure costs are lower. Vehicles, goods, VAT rate, you name it. That needs to change.” Another important issue for the area according to Anthony is public transport with Dublin being only one of two European capital cities that doesn’t have a train line from its International Airport.

“We have fantastic infrastructure in Fingal and are well served with the M50 and various motorways but over 20,000 people work in Dublin Airport and 30 million people a year travel through it and we don’t have a train line. It’s not good enough, “he says. “We take too long getting a project from concept to completion and we now won’t be ready until 2027 and as late as this week we didn’t have a route nailed down. The world won’t wait for us. We need to be more forceful to get these projects off the ground. Foreign direct investment bosses who generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Irish economy have told us that their executives coming in need to access transport,” he concludes. New entrepreneurs are consumed with the scale of work and day to day duties involved. Many people are curious about Chambers but unsure of the benefit but Anthony invites anyone interested to just come and talk. “We have people coming to us all the time and saying I would like to join but I’m not sure if I’ll get anything out of it. We’d always invite them to a couple of events and say, you tell us if it’s working. Another thing we do for companies is export documentation services. Companies who export to Arab countries in particular need certificate of origination, only chambers of commerce that are affiliated with National Chambers Ireland can provide that and we are only one in Fingal. We provide that service to members and non members in Fingal.” Anthony and his team at Fingal Chamber wants to harness creativity, which already thrives within the community, using it to make Fingal an even better place to live, work and do business as he explains. “Fingal is different from any other area around the country. 25 per cent of people in Fingal work in tourism. 70 percent of horticulture exported from the island of Ireland comes from North Dublin so there is a huge agricultural base in Fingal that many people are not aware of. We host an array of high end foreign direct investment companies and just under five percent of the gross domestic product of the nation is contained within the four walls of Dublin Airport which is a huge economic driver.”

“Lets not forget about the academic institutions of Blanchardstown and DCU. DCU is not geographically in Fingal but a large proportion of the students come from Fingal so we would very much look at DCU as being in partner with us, in fact, we as a chamber financially support its access programme which is very important in helping people go through university who may not otherwise get the opportunity.” With the third biggest, fastest growing and youngest population in Ireland, Fingal is vibrant with diversity. “When you think of economic activity you think of people connecting to a utility grid and last year almost 30 per cent of ESB networks connections nationally were in the Fingal area, “he says, adding “we have 90 kilometres of coastline, it’s an excellent place to invest to work and to live and living is important. We are trying to attract foreign direct investment and those people coming to work in these establishments need somewhere to live and without doubt Fingal has lot going for it.” It’s clear to see that the new boss has made this role his own and is passionate about forging ahead with even more plans to improve the chamber and encourage further growth for the entrepreneurial world in Fingal. “We’d like to attract more members and develop a greater degree of cooperation with fellow chambers within Fingal. We have a very good relationship with them especially Balbriggan. The town has so much to offer with a fantastic road network, rail line and a beautiful harbour. The historic Breamore and Ardgillan Castles are right on the doorstep. We need to be more open and cooperate with our fellow chambers as it will benefit us all.” “We now have the platforms to communicate very effectively with our members and we will use those tools going forward, “he comments, adding “We have the contacts, energy and resource to communicate with national and local government. Our system is that well engineered that we could almost manage everybody in this country who is a member of a chamber of commerce on our platform. It’s a really smart system and designed with the chambers of commerce in mind. We fully expect to be able to represent Fingal in the most affective and constructive way possible.” ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Gerry Hand meets long serving CEO of the Fingal local enterprise board, Oisin Geoghegan

Gerry Hand meets long serving CEO of the Fingal local enterprise board, Oisin Geoghegan The first thing that is obvious when speaking to Oisin Geoghegan, the long serving CEO of the Fingal Local Enterprise Office is his innate honesty. Nineteen years in the job, both with the old County Enterprise board and subsequently LEO, he candidly concedes he’s in the risk business and that he, and his staff, don’t always get things right. Originally from the Dublin suburb of Knocklyon, and now a resident of Maynooth, Geoghegan recalls one instance when the guy pitching the idea was 100% right, and the advice from the other side of the table was shown to be wrong. ‘This guy came in with an idea, that is all it was just an idea, he had no product, no ground breaking item that was going to sell by the thousand, but he had an idea and he was convinced it would work. ‘Not unusually in and around Fingal it was a food based idea and when he explained it to me I could see merit in it but suggested he might outsource the production to someone with more experience in the area.


‘He wasn’t having any of it and he was prepared to invest substantially in making the product himself, which is where I thought he might be in difficulty. When I tried pointing out the pitfalls he turned out to be quite stubborn, and you know what he was dead right to be. ‘I won’t name him or his business but he made the product himself, it took off and he is now a very successful businessman, so the people on our side of the table don’t always get it right, but I’d like to think that given the experience we have that we get more calls right than wrong. ‘If we take a risk on an idea it tends to be a calculated risk, I always liken it to backing a horse at Cheltenham, you don’t pick a horse and lump all your money on it without studying the form, finding out about the jockey and seeing whether the distance of the race and the underfoot conditions suit the horse.’ ‘If you don’t follow that line of logic then you may as well just hand the bookie the money directly, and in our line of work we have to look deeply into any idea that comes across the table.’

Helping people taking their first steps, in what can one way or the other, be a life changing experience, is a very exciting sphere to operate in.

‘In many ways we are the honest broker, the lad pitching the idea to us may have run it by his mates down the pub, his family, his bank manager and even his accountant, and each and every one of those will know him on a personal level as a result of which they may be a little reluctant to say what they really think.’ ‘When he comes in here and talks to one of our mentors he gets an honest appraisal as the mentor is coming to it without any baggage. He doesn’t know the individual and can give a straight up opinion as to how he feels, sometimes like the one I mentioned earlier the guy with the idea is right, but more often than not they can benefit from our advice.’ With a background in sales and marketing, he worked for a number of years selling coffee machines in the UK. ‘I was in Manchester and managed to secure a sales deal with the NHS, I enjoyed it, but I have to say that what I like most about this role is the huge variety of ideas and people I get to hear.’

‘Helping people taking their first steps, in what can, one way or the other, be a life changing experience, is a very exciting sphere to operate in, we are not here to turn people down, we are here to stimulate enterprise, help create jobs and help develop employment potential.’ ‘At the same time, however, we always have to be conscious that the money we use to grant aid people is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and part funded by the government, we can never lose sight of that.’ ‘Similar to the horse racing analogy I gave you earlier, we don’t always back a winner, sometimes we lose our money, that’s the nature of the job. The guy may be unlucky and things might not work out, that doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t solid in the first place.’ ‘I wouldn’t like to give the perception that we are solely about doling out money through grant aid, that’s an important part of it, but we cover a wide range of things, for example, we upskill people so they can be of more use to their own business, we advise them on where to best source finance, there’s a whole range of areas that we can help out in.’ LEO’s are there in good times and in bad and Geoghegan points out that, contrary to what people might think, the recession was actually a busy time for them. ‘A lot of people were made redundant during that period and as a result had redundancy money that they decided to use to start up that idea they had in their minds for years, but never got round to developing as they were too busy trying to earn a wage.’ ‘When they became unemployed they had time on their hands and money in their pockets so they went for it and a lot of them did so very successfully.

‘We have a lot of foreign nationals come to us seeking assistance and we can be invaluable to them as for a stranger in the country it can be incredibly difficult to navigate around the system. Look at it this way, if you or I were landed in Warsaw and wanted to start a business, we would need all the help we could get to locate state aid and discover whatever was available. ‘In fact, at our recent awards night three of the ten finalists were foreign nationals, so they are finding their way through our doors right enough.’ There have been big success stories emerging from the Fingal area, Geoghegan clearly recalls one, ‘One For All Gift Vouchers started with a guy with an idea sitting in our office and now they are a big player in places like Malta and the UK, but really we see the success stories in guys who have started up a small business and are now making a good living out of it and doing really really well. ‘A very recent phenomenon is the online business, I would suggest that every business needs an online presence these days and we have people who specialise in assisting in that as well.’ Spending his days listening to some excellent ideas appears to have promoted an entrepreneurial spirit in Geoghegan, as he admits, ‘On balance yes my experience here would encourage me to go into business, there is an entrepreneur in me I guess, but I haven’t gone for it yet.’ Perhaps he fears he might end up in a situation an awful lot of the businesses he has dealt with have found themselves in. ‘I frequently see businesses who have come through here on the TV show Dragons Den, I’m always delighted with that as it means they have been successful and have progressed into having a business that has a value.’ No doubt that’s down to the good advice they received from Geoghegan and his team in the first place. ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Bank Of Ireland Gerry Hand meets meets the Bank of Ireland Fingal Team - Who regularly back business.

Here’s a piece of good advice for any start up or SME business in Fingal Remember the names of David Mc Geough and Andrew Keenan. The two men facing me across the table in Bank of Ireland’s Swords office are the go to men for those engaged in that area of business in the local community. Despite their “youthful” disposition both have amassed a considerable amount of experience between them. As David explains this experience is valuable when they’re presented with a budding entrepreneur’s or an established SME’s business proposal. “We fully understand and acknowledge starting a business takes a huge amount of courage and hard work. In many cases the first few years can be really challenging. It takes time, dedication and real perseverance and it often comes


with the very real challenge of having no space to develop your business, to work on your business plans, to make contacts and to win contracts. For thousands of people starting their business, their kitchen table is their office. As the largest lender into the Irish economy we believe that building strong relationships with customers is critical to our success. Key to this is ensuring we understand our customer’s needs and deliver the right advice and financial supports across different sectors and types of businesses” Andrew, who along with David oversees lending to SME’s across Dublin North, adds “we provide a unique offering for start-ups and SMEs nationwide through our Start Lab, Workbench and Enterprise programmes which demonstrates our support for entrepreneurship. This is very important, both for us as a bank and for the continued growth of the Irish economy”

David advises “Initiatives such as these closely align with the Banks wider ambition to foster innovative thinkers and connect with innovative businesses from around the country. Start-ups are essential to the growth of the Irish economy and at Bank of Ireland we want to continue to support a culture of entrepreneurship – we want to support all businesses to thrive” So now you know! Andrew then refers to the supports available via the Bank of Ireland’s Think Business online support platform www. – “this website provides additional information, tools, templates and regular updates for budding entrepreneurs and established SME’s”. Along with this support David is quick to add another option available to SME’s within Bank of Ireland “Our support also includes mentoring for businesses at every step of the way, whether it’s an idea that they want to bounce off our Enterprise & Innovation

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team or connecting businesses with our dedicated team of sector experts who are available to provide industry insights to support growth and business development in areas such as agribusiness, health, retail, and technology, to name a few. Our sector team all have direct industry experience in the areas of business they specialise in which provides additional value to our customers and also to our colleagues across the Bank of Ireland network”. Andrew then introduces the subject of Bank of Ireland’s National Enterprise Weeks “As Ireland’s Enterprise Bank, we’re supporting Ireland’s SME’s and Start-ups in driving the country forward. Through this programme we support local communities & business and assist with showcasing their business & talent, either in Bank of Ireland Branches or in focal points of the local community. We are very keen to enable our customers & communities thrive”. Both David & Andrew are adamant that there is one key part to their roles “quality customer service and being in a position to support & deliver for our customers is very important for us”.

Of course the big issue rapidly coming down the line for all Irish businesses is Brexit, and as would befit a man who spent three years playing in the UK with Stoke City, David advises “In terms of business opportunities the feedback we are getting from our customers is quite positive. It’s difficult to predict the implications of Brexit however it’s important that businesses have a plan, try to consider all the possible outcomes and where possible factor in a strategy in terms of the impact Brexit is likely to have”. “Toward the end of 2017, across the country to support businesses in their local communities, Bank of Ireland ran a number of Brexit information events to try to ensure Brexit is key to a business strategy & agenda”.

team, our incubators and co working and event spaces, in Galway, New York, Dublin, Cork and Limerick. These spaces offer entrepreneurs a collaborative space to work in, to plan their business, and in time to succeed and grow. David concludes “We would be delighted to talk to customers about the funding requirements of their business, it’s a core part of what we do, it’s what we’ve always done and it’s vital for sustaining both our and our customer’s success into the future. We love to see original thinking, the spirit of the entrepreneur is alive and well in Fingal”. And why wouldn’t it be with Andrew, David and the impressive Bank of Ireland support structure ready, willing and able to back it. ◼

“We both love what we do and we are passionate about our jobs and supporting local business. We meet & interact with a wide variety of businesses, entrepreneur’s and business proposals on a daily basis. We have the range of supports through our various sector experts, our innovation

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


S & S Office Interiors Gerry Hand meets Alan Spain of S & S Office Interiors Ltd.

Alan Spain relaxes back in a swivel chair as he begins to detail the story behind the success that is S&S Office Interiors the Swords Enterprise Park based company he heads up.

‘We are now in a situation where we have the financial stability and backing from the manufacturers for a large project and in terms of growing as a business that’s vital.

Behind him on the wall is a mural of the last project the business worked on a deal with CAE Aviation that Alan’s business won with a tender of a hefty 1m euro.

‘Part of the reason for our success is that we actually source our products directly from the manafacturers in Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands, Nomique is a big supplier of ours as is BMA Ergonomics.’

He leans forward and reveals, ‘That was the deal that has enabled us to pitch for a higher level of project, we have now shown we can deliver on a million euro project and that has helped us progress up a level with what we do. ‘We worked on that particular job for eleven months before we got the nod that we had won the tender, we placed great emphasis on placing both resources and time into trying to win it and we had an inner confidence in our ability to deliver it on budget and with a high degree of quality.


The S&S success story is very much the Alan Spain success story as well, the second S came from his wife’s name, as he gambled on the whole thing working out and thankfully it appears the gamble has paid off. ‘I was always a salesman, IT and office furniture mainly, and when I was selling I could clearly see the opportunities in the sector, but it wasn’t easy when I initially went out on my own, I had to build a customer base virtually

from scratch when I started back in 2008, in the height of the recession and the economic downturn. ‘My dad was a self employed consultant for pubs and hotels, I saw how hard he had to graft to make that work and I’d like to think some of his work ethic rubbed off on me. ‘If there was a master plan at all at the time I started it was as simple as this, get as many sales as possible and put dinner on the table for the family! ‘This is a numbers game really, you can get a large order that will cover your expenses for a month or there are times you can sell one individual chair, we pitch ourselves to operate at the level of selling multiples.’ There are difficulties though, no success story is complete without having overcome some of those, and often it is the customer who thinks biggest that can cause complications.

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‘Some people have champagne tastes with cider budgets’, is how Alan puts it, before he elaborates, ‘People don’t really want to pay for the creme de la creme of office furniture so we operate in the middle of the range.

‘We got stung badly with a credit card scam, people were buying with stolen credit cards, we’d deliver and almost immediately a bank would contact us to say the card was robbed and reclaim the money from it.

‘The higher up the market you go the higher the rewards are, but equally the higher the risks are, there has to be a balance, and ultimately I earn my money by being a decision maker.

‘Ultimately it proved far too difficult to police and we closed, thankfully with no losses, to reach this point, where we have twenty contractors working for us, seven full-time staff, vans on the road and two premises, has been a series of trial and error and thankfully we got more things right than wrong.

‘Look, when I started off I was told I’d fail if I didn’t have serious selfbelief. I knew myself I wouldn’t fail, and yes there have been mistakes along the way to where we are now. ‘Two years into the business we set up an online company called Small Office Furniture with a promise we would deliver anywhere within 48 hours.

‘If I come up against a problem I find the best way is to take a step back get a wider view and see how it can be fixed, there’s a solution to every problem.’

Currently I hold position of President of the Dublin/Fingal Rotary club, ‘I love the voluntary charity work’, and am also council member with the Fingal Chamber Of Commerce , ‘It gives me some good business contacts’, Alan says he has the right life/work balance in place. ‘I am enjoying life more now that I have financial stability, our highest turnover was 2m and we want to grow that further, but even though I’d never fully switch off when I close the door behind me on a Friday evening, I can and do devote weekends to family time I have a good balance in that regard. ‘I’d always be open to diversifying as well, I have expressed interest before in investing in other companies or in what I see as a good business idea, if you stand still in business you’re finished.’ ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


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Kevin Rowe Events Event management genius Kevin Rowe tells Gerry Hand that as the workload increases so does the buzz surrounding it. They say never forget your roots!

And that’s an adage that Kevin Rowe, the man in charge at Kevin Rowe events has certainly taken on board.

‘I’d often get ideas that are so unusual they just won’t work, but occasionally you get a ‘Eureka’ moment like the Oskars that turns out to be really successful.’

From the village of Ballyboughal, Rowe has been back in the area recently doing what he does best organising a major fund raising event, this time the ‘Oskars’ for Garristown GFC .

It’s possible that the creative thinking part of his brain is what drove Rowe to be the success he is today, as he felt that with the best of intentions creativity was never encouraged in his school days.

It’s a concept he dreamt up himself, and involves Rowes company helping club members learn how to act club members then providing producers and directors to come up with a short movie which is then shown to large and appreciative audiences on ‘Oskars’ night, complete with the obligatory red carpet.

‘When I was in school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but certainly there was no guidance or training in how to be an entrepreneur, in many ways the education system tried to pigeon hole you and shoehorn you into something that didn’t fit.

The concept is original, and showcases the one ingredient Kevin feels is essential in his line of work, creative thinking. ‘That’s the key to everything, and it is something you either are born with or you’ll never get it, it certainly cannot be taught, when I am out in the car if an idea pops into my head I will jot it down in a notebook and when I get home later will look and see if I can develop it into something tangible.

‘I did an engineering course when I left school but that was never an avenue I was going to explore further, what gave me a buzz even when I was only seventeen or eighteen, was organising events, it might be something as mundane as running a small table quiz, but the organisational end of that appealed to me. ‘I really enjoyed it but at the same time doing it as a business never really crossed my mind.

‘Mind you I had to live as well, so in the Celtic Tiger era I went were the money was and worked in construction, in fact I had three or four jobs on the go at the one time back then, including a stint as a barman and as a mobile phone salesman. ‘But then the bang came and the construction job went so I was faced with the same choice as many others who were in their mid twenties back then, re skill via college or emigrate, and I didn’t really want to leave Ireland if it could be avoided. ‘I did a Business and Event Management course in Dún Laoighaire which got me a diploma, I don’t have a degree at anything but what I do have that no degree can match is experience, I am telling you 100% experience trumps a degree every time.’ Kevin’s next move saw him again display that nous for creative thinking, although this time the idea didn’t quite get across the finishing line. I heard about a course called the Enterprise Evolution programme being run in IT Tallaght and I enrolled on that, it was during the recession Continued on page 15 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


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▶▶▶ Continued from page 13 and there were 120 people on it all looking for a change in career, I was the youngest one on it as well. ‘At the end of the course we were split into groups of four and asked to come up with a completely new concept of a business idea, and the winning team won 10k from Bord Na Móna to develop it. ‘The team I was on actually won, we came up with the idea of a Honey themed hub, where there would be a kids playroom upstairs with all bee shaped logos around the place, a honey themed cafe downstairs, that sort of thing, but although we won we did a little research and discovered it would take serious money to develop, so we gave the 10k to the team who finished second to see if they could bring their idea forward, whether they did or not have no idea.’ Shortly afterwards Kevin kick-started his event management plan, and he freely admits that like most other start ups he was big on enthusiasm but not so clever on the practicalities.

‘I’ll tell you the straight truth when I started off the financial side of it was a mystery to me, I hadn’t the first clue about money management for example, but thanks be to God I am a quick learner ! ‘One of the first things that really took off for us was when we adapted the Strictly come Dancing concept for club fundraisers. ‘It’s insane how quickly things have grown for us, it really is, we now work with all the big corporate groups like Microsoft, KBC bank and Vodafone for example, we cater for any group that wants us to work with them. ‘We have an ‘Oskars’ event coming up for leading Mayo GAA club, Breaffy, and there will be a crowd of 1800 at that, but literally we can, and have, market and promote all sorts of events such as car launches, video launches, anything that needs promotion and marketing we can cater for.

‘I really want to get it across though that it is not one size fits all, we are adaptable and can manage any size of event that we are asked to. ‘I have a great team working with me which takes a lot of the pressure off as I am not micro managing everything myself, in the early days I controlled all aspects of an event but that was when we were doing maybe one gig a month, now that we have 75 shows a year, that is physically impossible for me to do. ‘The fact that we have been shortlisted for three awards at the industry awards night, coming up in July, shows just how talented and hardworking the team is. ‘I’m still very hands on though, although my role now is more in terms of business development, to tell you the truth I get a bigger buzz out of it all now.’ There’s still time to develop that bee themed Honey Hub, now THAT he would get a proper buzz out of. ◼

‘We have operated in all the big venues, The Helix, The Cork Opera House, the INEC in Killarney, we have managed events in all of those.

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Wiley Design Sally Harding meets Wiley Design, run by husband and wife duo Clodagh and Garry, Wiley Design is a design studio based in Donabate that’s on a mission to educate and support new businesses, transform the idea of the “brand” and believes building trust with clients is the key to success.

Clodagh and Garry Wiley met in art college in Limerick 20 years ago before going their separate ways to work at home and away taking the time to learn their craft in various design studios. Wiley Design has made a huge impact in the area with many local businesses choosing them to create the face of their brand. It’s not surprising to learn when you hear of the extensive experience Garry and Clodagh have gained in studios both here and in London but it all started with humble beginnings! Breakfast being the most important meal of the day was definitely true to Garry’s life as those few minutes at the table before school were the first memories he has of being inspired by design. “I always had an interest in design from a really early age. It started off wanting to redesign the cornflakes box,” he laughs, adding “I would take packaging and redraw it and go from there. I could always see a way of improving it.” “Going to art college was never in doubt, that was always the route I wanted to take since I was about 11 or 12. I did portfolio classes after school, it was a very singular vision and it was always graphics I was interested in. My heroes would have been the designers. I’d watch films at that age and look out for the opening credits.”


Working your way up

Garry started out in London the old fashioned way gaining a solid foundation as a junior designer observing those around him and learning the ropes from the bottom. “We both worked our way up individually through studios to running them in London with Clodagh joining me in 2002. We worked with a lot of mixed studios on branding and started to learn web design on the job,” he says, adding “We started out in bigger studios and through our career, studios and teams got smaller so you got more responsibility and the work was more hands on and we began to become involved in running studios.” After a number of years in the UK, the couple returned to Ireland with the ultimate goal of setting up their own studio but felt they needed to gain experience with companies on home soil first. “I knew I needed to work in Dublin just to get a feel for the landscape and become familiar with the design scene in Ireland because we had been out of it for so long,” says Garry. But what were the differences of working in Dublin compared to the English capital?

“The bigger multinationals in London have more of an awareness of the power of design and potential to enhance their business. There was more of an educational aspect to working with smaller businesses here in the respect of informing clients on how design can work for their business and make it better,” he says, adding “There are a lot of government initiatives in the UK that push design for business so they are more aware of it. This is progressing in Ireland and all companies need to understand business needs to evolve around a brand” “Initially Clodagh set up the business as a sole trader in the middle of the recession so there were a lot of challenges. We had many contacts from the UK who just through the experience of working with us were happy to work with Clodagh. The business needed to grow and the natural progression was for me to stop working in the city and come in as a partner so we set up the partnership three years ago.”

Garry: 086 334 0350

Clodagh: 086 313 7698

Down to business


Garry admits that while he knew the design industry inside out, the business side of it was a learning curve but something he was always interested in.

The design entrepreneur says there are several pieces of advice he would give anyone starting out.

“It’s a creative career but I always liked the business side. In my mind it was like a marriage of the business and the creative that developed as I got older,” he comments, adding, “I relied on our network of people. I was working with a lot of business owners so I was able to lean on them and I found that people are really willing to give you their time,” he says, continuing, “It was such an asset to be able to pick up the phone and meet them for coffee and have a chat and it’s something I would recommend starts ups to do. Even though their companies were very different from ours, the core of it comes back to the fact that everyone needs to do the same thing.” “Ask questions. You might be having an uneventful chat and something just jumps out from that. Off the cuff remarks during a coffee has sparked many an idea for us that we have used to formulate the business plan further.”

“Managing the stress levels and trying to find that balance of working and knowing when to switch off and return into family life is a big challenge,” says Garry. “Have a long term vision. Keep an eye on the day to day week to week elements and extend that so you are looking at the bigger picture of the business in terms of a year to five-year plan. Don’t stress over every month but look at it as 12-month situation.” Garry also believes in remaining flexible as it’s an ever changing world. “Trends and fashions change and we need to adapt to that and upskill when we can. We used to design websites but outsource the development and while we were still doing ok financially it was a big outlay for something we could be doing ourselves so I upskilled in that area and now we do it all in house.”

“That allows us to control the development process on websites, removes the stressful part of relying on suppliers and allows us to better manage the clients. It led to me having a better understanding of that side of the business. We may outsource development again as things are becoming very busy but I have a better handle on it now.” On brand

Decades ago branding was defined as a name, slogan, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these elements that identify products or services of a company. Garry, however, maintains that a brand is a very different thing altogether. “The term brand is misunderstood. We can design everything and give you a lovely logo, website, colour palette and typeface but that does not define who you are as a business. It’s important that companies understand the true meaning of a brand,” he comments, adding “It’s about how you act, what you believe in, how you present yourself, what you are saying, how you say it and the tone of voice.” ▶ ▶ ▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


“Being authentic is more important than all of the other things. Yes, you have to look good but if it’s all dressing and no substance people can see through that especially these days where you have to be a multi faceted brand. There’s so many channels to communicate through and you have to be consistent.” New era

The design world was a very different place 20 years ago when Garry and Clodagh were at the start of their careers. The onset of social media and the internet has transformed how businesses work and communicate with their customers and the design enthusiast believes having one clear voice and message is essential. “We are taking on a lot of social media management for our clients. The multi device experience has changed everything. Your website has to adapt to every device, every size and every experience. Having a consistent tone of voice all the way through is so important,” continuing, he says, “Design used to be a very visual job, everything was about how it looked and now it’s much more about content but the content has to be relevant. People over the last ten years have gone through a lot of hardship so people’s perception of value has changed. If you want people to spend money on your product or on your services it’s not enough just to say, here’s a product, isn’t it great, you have to let them know where the value is.” “You hear a company name the first thing you do is check out their online presence. These days before you go to their website, you go to social media to see how popular it is, how many likes and how many followers they have. It’s about showing the public that you are a live company and there are things happening everyday. But you don’t want to upload content for the sake of putting it out there, that’s why it comes back to the brand and message and values. If what you are saying is not backing up your brand, then you are just putting out empty content for the sake of it and people can see through that so it’s always about substance.”


A different approach

The passion and care for their clients is something that is obviously hugely important to this design company but what does Garry think makes Wiley Design different? “With our size we can be flexible so we can adapt to a client’s needs. We are about building relationships and we’ve learned from experience, that if we can gain your trust, we can build a relationship and the design results are so much better. The better the design results the more successful the business. Whether it’s just a logo or a whole rebrand, we have the same approach and they will have the same time from us,” he says, adding “We have had some clients recently with fantastic stories that have been in business a long time but haven’t been telling those stories. With clever design, working on their content and their story, they have all seen an increase in business. It’s about the commitment. We are both partners in this and own the business. We are not trying to expand, this is the size of our business and we are happy with that. We are not distracted with other issues; our sole focus is on the client.” Have a plan

Entrepreneurs are full of ideas and want to create but being organised and having a strong plan is just as important according to the design expert. “Everyone that wants to start a business has it in their heart but you need to engage the brain early and sit down and plan. It’s boring but it’s the key to your success. Write your plan and your goals. Extend your vision to five years. In the early years you need to remain flexible. Constantly go back to the business plan, rewrite and refocus because everything changes.” “Trust your gut. If you have the idea that this is what you want to do, really go for it, it’s very rewarding. The cliché is that you get up in the morning and you want to go to work but it’s true. You are in control; you are driving it. You work long hours but you see the results, they are very tangible,” says Gary, adding

“You can overthink it too but it’s about getting that balance between head and heart. Make mistakes, acknowledge them and move on. If that means changing direction let that happen.” “As long as you have a solid core the rest can be flexible. You can go down a certain route for a year and come back but as long as you have somewhere solid to come back to, the business is strong.” The future

So what’s in the future for Wiley Design? “Consultancy is an aspect of the business that we are really interested in now so in five years’ time a bigger percentage of the company I envisage to be in brand consultancy. We want to work with smaller businesses where we deal directly with the owner and get that instant feedback so we can help shape the client’s company. That’s the goal. We are working our way into the SME community and it’s a very vibrant community.” Entrepreneurial Ireland

There are fantastic businesses out there who are not telling the right stories about themselves. You can have a ten-minute conversation with someone at an event and think that’s what you should be talking about, not the stuff that is on your website,” says Garry, adding” We want to get those stories out there and celebrate the entrepreneurial aspect of Ireland. We aim to be the go to design company for the smaller to medium size businesses. We recently got involved with the Micro Business Awards and won the website design award this year.” “We’d like to get to a stage where we are actually contributing and investing in the event, so we can sponsor awards and bring other people up. We work hard but we’ve had a lot of luck and we want to pay that back. There are so many similarities between businesses. We want to get to a position where we can start repaying some of the goodwill we have been shown.” ◼

Growing your business, launching a new idea or trying to stay relevant in a shifting marketplace? We can help you to get clear on the story that will attract more of the customers you want.

Donabate, Dublin K36 RC41, Ireland. Chat to Clodagh: +353 (0)86 3137698 Chat to Garry: +353 (0)86 3340350


Pauline McKevitt, Roisin Campbell, Jane Jackson & Laura Laverty

A Word to the WISE The number of small and medium sized businesses Laura Laverty, Roslyn Bell, Clare Kelly & Jane Jackson

run by women, or with women leaders is rapidly increasing. In addition, there are women with

strong entrepreneurial ideas who need support to help set up and progress their businesses.

Taking You Business From Strength To Strength - May 2018

Roisin Campbell & Pauline McKevitt


Our intention is that our Network will be active in the following areas: Business Support: As the founder members of WISE are from accountancy and tax backgrounds, we are perfectly placed to assist with business support for both starting and growing your business. However, our focus will be on assisting women in business to succeed at all stages of a business, not just pre-start up and start-up. As a result of this we’re delighted to announce that we have launched a new women only network called WISE – Women Inspiring Strength in Enterprise. The aim of WISE is to support all women in business or enterprise, whether that be business owners, leaders, employees, professionals, sole traders or women wishing to start up in business. Our goal is to bring together women of all industries and business categories to support each other, share information and resources and collaborate with other women from different sectors/ industries. We are encouraging all WISE members to be actively involved in the group by engaging, networking with fellow members and inviting others to the network

Jane Jackson

Build your Network: We intend to hold regular networking events, such as breakfast clubs, so that our members can meet, talk to and share information and resources with other like-minded women. Build Your Business / Customer Base: We would like to offer our members the opportunity to put forward their business ideas or to present pitches for their businesses in front of other women in the network, with the aim of receiving support, advice and possibly winning new business or customers. Benefit of Local Knowledge: Women can work in many different business sectors, but our day to day lives and issues can be very similar. A further aim would be to allow our members to ask for advice, introductions or suggestions on local services, covering anything from car servicing to architecture, or fitness to finance. We hope that our network can promote a confidence in referrals and advice amongst our members.

UHY Farrelly Dawe White Ltd will be hosting an event for women in business in the coming months, with some well-known guest speakers. If you would like to be kept informed join our social media groups at: groups/8622478 @UHYFDW @UHYFDW

For more information on WISE Contact Jane Jackson at UHY Farrelly Dawe White Ltd. 042 933 9955

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Quinn Ceilings Ltd. Quinn Ceilings is celebrating 18 years in business. Having grown up learning the trade and surviving the biggest economic crisis this country has ever seen, Jeremy Quinn has learned a thing or two about business. He shares his story with Sally Harding. Quinn Ceilings Limited is a small family business that specialise in suspended ceilings. With over 27 year’s experience, Jeremy and his team have developed a strong professional approach to delivering services. We are half way through the interview and Jeremy Quinn laughs as he tells me how eyes roll when he and his dad are at the airport and are more fascinated with the structure of the ceilings rather than the destination ahead. It’s not a surprising revelation having been told that Jeremy barely remembers a time when he wasn’t immersed in the world of ceilings following in the footsteps of this father who worked for a manufacturer of ceiling tiles. Jeremy worked for a ceiling installer in the early days of his career before enrolling in a marketing course in college which led to a stint of selling rather than constructing ceilings. Like many young people he took a year off to travel and on his return had to figure out his next move. “When I came back I had to make the decision whether to go to work wearing a suit or go back to tools. I had worked through summers since I was 14 paying my way through to school and college so going back into the trade was the natural progression for me.”


Advice and help from those closest to him equipped Jeremy with the confidence and tools to go full steam ahead with plans. I took advice from an accountant and decided to be a limited company. My mother had set up a company decades previously with my grandfather so she had been through the process. She helped me out and guided me through that time. We converted the garage at my family home in Lucan into an office and I used that as my business address.” But did Jeremy always want to be an entrepreneur?

The first memory I have as a child in terms of wanting to be or do something when I grew up was wanting to own corner shop so maybe it was always there in the psyche,” he says, adding “I’m not the greatest at taking instruction. I was probably always designed to have my own business.” “I had no contractors and decided that I wanted to be one man in a van. The company I had worked for prior to that were the biggest in the British Isles. I could see them losing money hand over fist and the pressures they were under ruined them. I knew many small contractors that made a good living.” “I really enjoyed the business end as well as contracting. I wanted a balance between the both so it suited me.”

Standing out from the crowd

A deep knowledge and passion for his industry are attributes that are clear to see in Jeremy but what gives Quinn Ceilings the edge? If you say you are going to do something do it. Even if you are going to let someone down, tell them. Everything is key on service, “he says, adding “I don’t think I have ever worked with someone who I haven’t done a good job for. Service would have been very important to my father and that always stayed with me.” “I was cc’d in an email on one occasion and was referred to as train spotter for ceilings,” he laughs, adding “I love ceilings at strange as that sounds. I grew up in the business and now my eldest son who is ten earns his pocket money helping me out during his school holidays.” Passion

Quinn Ceilings has an array of varied clients and also work directly for St Vincent’s and Beaumont Hospitals. “Word of mouth is always going to be the best method of advertising. A lot of our work comes from recommendations.”

+353 (0)87 284 2702

“When I am pricing a job, I’m not some guy who arrives in a suit, I am actually physically doing this job. We really care and enjoy what we do. There are many tradesmen around who feel the same, who take great pride in their work and want to deliver.”

Pros and Cons

Owning a business isn’t for everyone. The stress and hard work that come with it makes many people unwilling to dive in. It takes a special kind of person to be an entrepreneur - to come up with an idea and put that idea into action.

“The flexibility of having my own business works for my life. My wife works full time in a good job that she loves so we share the school runs. I experienced going to work with my father as a child and now I have the joy of being able to bring my own son to work. My wife and I are both involved in triathlons and having the time to train is important to us.”

“Some people are designed in that way. Some people are proactive, others are reactive. Some people become institutionalised but the world needs both. I’m somewhere different everyday. I couldn’t imagine working in the one building for 20 years,” he says. “I remember being in an office many years ago and seeing a chart designed like a racetrack on the wall with eight horses and every horse had an employees name on it as a way to represent and meet sales targets. I just couldn’t imagine anything worse than working in an environment like that, it just wouldn’t be for me.”

Becoming an entrepreneur is not an easy feat as it comes with its own sets of challenges and setbacks but it can also offer a freedom you’ll never have working for someone else explains the ceiling expert.

Being savvy with finances in the early stages of business is also a big factor to take into account and success can also be a cocktail that’s never made the same way twice. “Don’t waste money when you get it. When I started out on my own in 2000 in the height of the boom, I wouldn’t say that I wasted money, but like a lot of people I probably thought that the good time was never going to end. I was lucky that I didn’t overstretch so I didn’t owe anything but you always need to think in terms of having a rainy day fund. Some people set up businesses and absolutely go for it, I would be much more cautious because that’s my nature.”

“Sometimes it’s blind luck, being at the right place at the right time. Whether you are a multimillion euro company or a guy in a van, it’s the same principal only different figures.” So what advice has Jeremy for budding entrepreneurs? “Listen to people. No one wants to give you bad advice. They want to tell you their mistakes and pitfalls. If there was a degree in being an entrepreneur it would be in listening, “says the entrepreneur, adding “don’t do it if you are scared of hard work. Some people can’t handle the thoughts of wondering where the next pay cheque is going to come from. It’s always going to come. You can’t panic. Try to look at your accounts as a year, not as two or three weeks because you will end up losing your mind. It’s a marathon not a sprint. If you decide this is going to be your path, it’s a lifetime.” “Try and find a balance. As someone once said to me, you are not going to be on your deathbed saying I wish I spent more time at work.” ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


087 284 2702


9 Martine Court, Skerries, Co. Dublin

Malahide Car Sales Dean Mulligan, from Malahide Car Sales, tells Gerry Hand about his flashing lights moment.

By his own admission Dean Mulligan from Malahide Car Sales, on the seaside towns Church Road, has ‘Been around cars all my life’, and when the opportunity arose to run the business for long established Dublin car dealer, Mark Foran, he jumped at it. ‘When Mark suggested it a few lights started flashing in my head and I thought, ‘If I do this right bring in a few of my own ideas, I can make a right go of it.’ And a right go is exactly what he has made of it, building the business into one of the more respected and successful garages in the area, and including his own ideas has been the cornerstone of everything. ‘The first thing I decided to do was to focus on UK imports, I realised that the currency difference was going to be a help, and that brexit will actually help even more. ‘I thought it through as best I could and one concern was that if people wanted to buy a car in the UK they could go up the north and do it themselves, but I could see the problem with that which

is they have no guarantee that they are dealing with a reliable company, whereas if we bring the car in and they buy off us they can come back to us with a problem and know it will be resolved. ‘The second advantage of doing it our way is that we do all the paperwork involved with the VRT, the import tax you pay for bringing the car into the country, and the other big plus is we only use one dealer in Northern Ireland, someone we have built up a superb working relationship with, a very reputable man called Martin McElholm in Omagh. ‘Overall you can save between 500 and 1000 euro on buying a UK import and more and more people are realising that’ Mulligan who has worked with both Joe Duffy and Airside Motors, knows that while smaller garages such as Malahide Car Sales cannot compete on an equal footing with the bigger groups, they do have their own unique plus points.

‘We have to be realistic, there is a status symbol attached to a brand new 2018 car, and a lot of buyers go to the main dealers for that reason and also for security, but what they and everyone else has to remember is that as soon as they drive off the forecourt that car is devalued and devalued hugely at that. ‘I can give you a very recent example, we had a guy come into us with a three year old BMW and we valued it at 48k, he told us that was the highest value that had been placed on it, he had bought it brand new for 103k it had devalued by 53% in three years, so be careful what you wish for when buying a brand new car. ‘While accepting we cannot compete in terms of brand new motors we have introduced a more quirky end of things as well, something peculiar to us and something we have brought in because of what we have noticed in Malahide. Continued on page 27 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


• Car sales • Car valeting • Crash repairs • Vehicle recovery

Rear of 1 Church Road Malahide

Co. Dublin

Phone: 01 845 6125

Mobile: 085 166 0395

+353 (0)1 845 6125

▶▶▶ Continued from page 25 ‘We have observed that people in Malahide like to be a little bit different, a little innovative if you like, and that applies to the cars they buy as well, so with that in mind we have introduced a range of different colours of cars and also we try to use a higher spec as well. ‘Look in any business if you stagnate you die, so we are also watching out for different trends in our customers and adapting to them as best we can. ‘I’ll tell you something else, and I know this from experience, if you walk into a main dealership you are hit straight away with a trained salesman who basically doesn’t care what you want, he just wants to sell you a car. ANY car, not necessarily the one you want, at any cost, he has to do that to get his commission.’

‘Walk into us and if we haven’t got the type of car you want, within the price range you can afford, we’ll move heaven and earth to get it for you, a salesman in a big dealership won’t bother because he knows that somebody is going to buy the more expensive option.’ ‘Basically it can be summed up like this, with us you are a customer, it is a personal relationship, with the big boys you are just a number, just another face passing through that they may never see again, and even worse that they don’t really care if they ever see again or not.’ Mulligan is in a business which is well placed to observe the all round upturn in the economy, and he is insistent things are on the up. ‘You’d notice the upturn in the amount of commercial vehicles we are selling, and also the number of automatics we are shifting, they cost slightly more than manual, but there’s certainly a little bit more money currently floating around from what I can see.

‘There has been a lot of change in the industry in recent years, hybrid cars are a perfect example, and we have a lot of people asking about them, we have access to hybrids from Japan, the type of cars where the battery recharges as you drive, and I can see them being massive in the future. ‘I wouldn’t be so sure about all electric cars, there isn’t enough re charge points in place for a start, and secondly we don’t have enough qualified mechanical engineers in Ireland to service a big number of that type of car.’ Mulligans into his third year and has an original way of summing up the progress at Malahide Car Sales. ‘We are like any three year old, we are walking before we run, but we are walking very fast.’ ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


The Fingal chapter of Rotary International was founded in 1979 and has flourished and grown in both members and charitable activities since then. The members hail from all over Fingal and come from all walks of life, from business owners to retirees. The Fingal chapter currently has 32 enthusiastic members who meet once a week to discuss local and international charity opportunities and to hear from local speakers, drawn from charities or business leaders in the community. Annually the chapter president chooses a national or local charity to fundraise for and each Christmas the club contributes to the local Saint Vincent de Paul.


In 2018 under the presidency of Alan Spain, the local fundraising project will be with Skerries RNLI, with the target being to kit out the lifeboat crew members with the required protective gear. Another of the large charitable endeavours is the Malawi Project which focuses on building housing and school buildings in remote parts of Malawi. One of the most prominent fundraising projects that Rotary Fingal is active in is the End Polio Now campaign. This is an International Campaign that aims to see the complete eradication of Polio worldwide.

Over the next three years, Rotary International has pledged to raise $150 million to the campaign, which will be match-funded two to one by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. There is no cure for Polio, but it can be prevented by effective immunisation and a number of local Irish Rotarians have actually visited the affected areas and helped to administer the vaccines, including our District Polio Champion Collette O’Neill and our International chair Sean Dunne. Although it currently circulates in only a few countries, polio is highly infectious and spreads rapidly. The disease, which afflicts mainly children, is transmitted via contaminated water and food supplies. Five to ten percent of cases are fatal. As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere are at risk Only the global eradication of polio will ensure that no child ever again suffers its devastating effects.

• If polio is not eradicated, within 10 years, as many as 200,000 children will be paralyzed by it each year. • I n 2016, more than 450 million children were vaccinated multiple times • S ince 1988, the number of polio endemic countries has declined from over 125 to three • T o April 2018, the number of cases, year to date, was 8 (1 in Pakistan, 7 in Afghanistan). This compares to 22 cases at the same time last year, and 37 at the same point of 2016.

The Fingal chapter are proud to be a part of this important global initiative. The Rotary Club of Fingal Dublin is always looking to extend their membership. If you would like to be a part of a charitable organisation that is making a real difference then please contact us via our website

• U nder an expanded partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, every $1 Rotary commits to polio eradication will be matched 2-to1 (up to $ 50 million per year)

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Bath Store and More The men behind Bath Store and More tell Gerry Hand that size really matters.

Gerry Witzer sits back in his chair and says, ‘It’s a fifty year apprenticeship that you serve in this job, you are always learning something new.’ Witzer is the senior salesman in the Ray Quinn owned, Bath Store and More, on Kettles Lane in Cloghran, having joined forces with Quinn, after many years spent in opposition to him. ‘We were both salesmen for different companies, I’d guess you could call us friendly rivals, and when Ray opened up here and asked me to join I didn’t hesitate. ‘What I meant by the comment fifty year apprenticeship is that you are always learning, there’s not a day goes by that you don’t hear about some new products.’ Quinn would row in with the Roy Keane mantra, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, and prepares assiduously for every job that comes across his desk.


He says, ‘We are six years in business and the way we operate seems to work quite well. ‘When a customer books a job in with us we send a crew out to measure their bathroom chat with them and write up a report for myself and Gerry so that when the customer comes in we have a very good idea of what exactly they want, and perhaps more importantly the size of the bathroom area they want us to work in. ‘Look at it like this, if a room is only big enough to fit a horse into then you won’t fit an elephant into it, we have to know the size of the space we have to work with. ‘It’s a professional way to go about things and from the feedback we get the customers seem to like it. ‘All our work is guaranteed and effectively whatever the customer wants we will work with, we have a wide range of tiles and also all bathroom requirements and supply and fit all jobs.’

While the dynamic duo take their work extremely seriously they don’t take themselves too seriously, and are always up for a laugh. Ray recalls, ‘There was one time a woman came in and asked for a shower door, I told her we could sell her the door no problem but she would have to go to Woodies and get the glass for it herself, she actually believed me as well, but she saw the funny side when I started laughing.’ Gerry on the other hand regularly stuns shoppers when he tells them ‘The tiles in your bathroom are not meant to get wet.’ He explains, ‘ I get some funny looks when I say that with a straight face, and the strange thing about is it there is a large degree of truth in it.’ If the customer is king, then service is key for Bath Store and More, and Gerry adds, ‘Customers rely on us, but really when they place an order the most we would do is tweak it, and believe it or not we’d only tweak it to save them money.

+353 (0)1 807 4074

‘For example they might like an item which has a certain value, but we could suggest look we have the same thing in stock in a slightly smaller size, it’s exactly the same only a bit smaller and it is cheaper and because of it’s size it will fit in far more neatly and completely enhance the overall look. ‘They tend to take that on board and they can see then that we are not solely interested in the money we are actually here to help them have a better finished product. ‘Between us all here we have a wealth of experience in this game and I’d like to think that comes across when we engage with a customer.’ Like all businesses the staff at Bath store and More have had to adapt to ever changing times, and Ray concedes social media is a more than useful tool.

‘Facebook displays what we have in stock and without question it attracts people in, but it is the experience they encounter when they arrive that usually seals the deal.

And after six successful years it seems clear that the public love the experience at Bath Store and More as evidences by how they return with family, neighbours and friends.

‘There is a lot of different elements come into play to make a business a success and fortunately it seems we have them all readily available.

‘We have continued to grow thanks to our customers and we are extremely grateful for that, and remember we love our job which makes it easier to do, and our quality service means you end up with happy ever after bathroom.

‘It’s a big change from the distribution end of the business which is where my background is, but there is a real buzz of anticipation every time you open the doors as you simply don’t know who is going to walk through them and what challenges that person will present you with.

We welcome new customers with a friendly smile and know you will leave with a happy experience from your time spent in bath Store and More.’ ◼

‘And you know I kind of love that challenge.’

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Dublin’s must see Bathroom & Tile Superstore

Newly refurbished Showroom with 27 brand new bathroom settings

Tel: 01 807 4074 | Mobile: 083 102 9258 Email:

Unit A3 Metropoint Business Park, Kettles Lane, Swords, Co. Dublin

Gary Irwin Solicitors Trading since 2006 Gary Irwin has established a thriving Solicitor’s practise that prides itself on building long lasting relationships with clients and excels at customer service but the road to success was not without its pitfalls as he tells Sally Harding.

Gary Irwin Solicitors is a legal firm based on the Strand Road Portmarnock providing a comprehensive range of legal services designed around each individual’s needs. Gary’s passion and enthusiasm for his field is clear to see as he tells me his story and talks a great deal about fostering bonds with clients. But where did this love for law originate from?

“There was some attraction to the idea of being a solicitor when I was 14 or 15. I remember watching a TV show and being fascinated by the courtroom. Maybe I was argumentative, “he says tongue in cheek, adding “I would equate it to being on stage in terms of a courtroom but the stage never interested me. My dad is self employed and although I wasn’t consciously aware, I was obviously influenced by that in terms of starting a and building a business for myself.”

Learning curve

Gary Irwin was well versed in the world of law but starting a venture was another process entirely and as he says himself plenty of obstacles presented themselves along the way. “I qualified in January 2001 and worked for 9 months in the firm I qualified in. I looked for career progression in terms of role and remuneration but was unsuccessful and received a polite suggestion and remove I looked for a raise but was told that if I were to find it somewhere else I should go. From there I sought to buy a practise but identified a claims risk so I didn’t go ahead with it. I invested mine and my parent’s money in that venture so I had to start from scratch again. I then went to work with one of the ex partners in the firm that I qualified in and there was no equity there either” Despite the false start, Gary used this learning curve to cultivate a strong business plan and was more determined than ever to make it work.

“I opened my firm on the 2nd January 2006 with no clients and no files. I did everything in the first few months from answering the phone to opening the post. The writing was on the wall at that stage for the economic downturn but fortunately banks were still interested in solicitor’s business, “he comments, adding “So with the help of Bank of Ireland a few early clients, word of mouth and a want to have my own business my pratise began to grow. People buy service from people

“People buy people and I try to excel at customer service. My motivation was to qualify and practise in law as a solicitor as opposed to a barrister because as a solicitor you get to deal with people more. Confidentiality is paramount. You are often dealing with one of the most important events in someone’s life be that buying their first home or dealing with a separation or a case involving the most serious of injuries and that can’t be underestimated.” Becoming a successful entrepreneur doesn’t come with a defined roadmap but there are some personality Continued on page 35 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


A full range of legal services designed for you... • Commercial & Company • Employment • Licensing • Litigation • Property • First Time Buyers • Accidents at Work / Road Traffic Accidents • Family • Wills/Probate

Suite 1, Portmarnock Town Centre, Portmarnock, Co Dublin, D13 DT80 P +353 1 845 9100

F +353 1 845 9110

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+353 (0)1 845 9100

+353 (0)87 775 0891

▶▶▶ Continued from page 33 traits that are helpful along the journey of starting (and running) your own business. So what characteristics does an aspiring entrepreneur possess? “Desire and determination are the most important qualities. You need to really want to succeed. I’ve found out along the way that there are some people who have been fortunate to effectively stumble into being a business owner and have managed it but to either start up or sustain you need to have that ambition that hope that desire to keep going and build something or build upon it.” Start as you mean to continue

Despite the impression created by American TV shows, law isn’t just about exciting criminal trials or international human rights, even the day to day activities of a legal representative are unique and varied and having the ability to build a rapport with a wide range of people is imperative.

So what advice has the legal expert for anyone thinking of going out on their own?

“Get Solicitor or an Accountant’s advice at the start because the road you set out on is hard to change. If you don’t have a good structure at the start you are then chasing your tail to try and put it back to together again when it has become a bigger animal, “he says, adding “You can let things evolve because you are so worried about keeping cost down but what you spend at the start and the goodwill you will receive from advisors will stand to you if you ask. Use enterprise boards when you are trying to put your business plan together. A business plan is a bit like a constitution, if you don’t have it at the start you are not going to help yourself out too much in the future. Try to get better processes in place at the start because that’s the culture you create going forward.”

Follow your own path

Gary believes in supporting and fostering young people often giving students interested in a career in law the opportunity to gain work experience in his firm. He explains how an uninspiring conversation with a career guidance counsellor could have led him down a very different path if he had listened and hopes young people are now encouraged rather than deterred. “My career guidance teacher in 5th year told me that I’d never be a Solicitor and that I would be better suited to something else,” he says, adding “it would be nice to see her now and ‘advise’ her how wrong it was to try and seal someone’s fate at an impressionable age like that.” Young people are under so much pressure to make a decision about their future and clearly that kind of “guidance” is not helpful.” “Chase what you want, ignore all detractors and if you want it, work hard, work smart and go for it but take set up advice early on.” ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs



First Thing is First ‘Its good to talk’ and to troubleshoot issues that are encountered early on. Talking helps guide the progression of the business idea and focuses on the fundamentals to grow from a successful startup onto funding rounds or becoming Investor ready and to enable the successful scaling of the business. Talking will help guide you to overcome the numerous problems and pitfalls that present themselves and ultimately overcome the threats to your business. From the experience of assisting other startups we provide that facility to talk through the matters presenting themselves to you and too many startups.


Take advice both Legal and Accounting – I will speak Legal; Through a network of preferred Suppliers we can identify Accounting • Get professional advice as early as possible – if you work in a vacuum how can you protect yourself • Prepare your Business Plan – The Business Plan is the foundation of any successful business startup • Take a step back and take a breath to evaluate your business plan. • Incorporate in Ireland or elsewhere or register as a Sole trader business name etc ॿॿ Name your company/ to include researching website availability ॿॿ Ensure your liability is limited; to include articles of association that reflect business to date and business into the future ॿॿ Do you need a shareholders agreement from the start;

• Equity v. debt; Decide how what and who will be approached for funding. Consider the trade off and tailor the offering. • Take a step back and take a breath to evaluate your business plan. • Protect Intellectual Property – register trademarks logo’s ideas and concepts • Shareholders Agreement & Employment Contracts are essential documents to cover the internal aspect of protecting the business; • Be fully insured to protect yourself and your business against all risks

• Develop your website and conduct as much market research as possible; • Prepare your Terms & Conditions of Engagement; • Talk to other established businesses; • Retain legal flexibility throughout. • Prepare for the next stage in the life cycle; • Get Funding and or Investor ready; • Look at exit options; ▶▶▶

• Plan for staff; Contracts Health & Safety Regulation and familiarise yourself with you own obligations

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Legal Structure and Corporate Services

Employment Matters

We provide company incorporation services, prepare all the necessary documentation and manage all associated company secretarial services as the business requirements develop. Company seals, Shareholders register, annual reminders for accounts etc are all provided. We provide advice on the appropriate legal structure for your business. We will discuss your business and explain what legal structure you should follow and what structures to avoid.

Appropriate employment contracts can be the Achilles heel for any new business. Companies are often slow to put them in place and then are at a loss as to why an employee has left and gone into competition. Get them right from the outset. There are many generic contracts out in the public domain however to insure best practice and the best chance of having as robust contracts as possible have them professionally draw up. Depending on requirements there are HR companies that can assist and who have fine-tuned operations or alternatively to obtain composite advices on all matters contact Gary to consider employment contracts in context of the over all business.

Shareholders’ Agreements

A shareholders agreement is vital if the business is incorporated with shares and has more than one shareholder. It operates like the constitution of the country in that it sets out the parameters of the business within the context of the memorandum and Articles of Association of the company and Company law itself. It is a tailored documents to the individual business. Commercial Agreements

Many commercial agreements with startups can begin without any agreement. However it is necessary for you to have a library of the contracts you have in place. This feeds into good operation of the company, good practice and ultimately in the philosophy of starting how you mean to go on These Supplier/Purchaser contracts need to be reviewed in the context of your business. We can do this for you.

Terms & Conditions

Very often terms and conditions are generic in nature however the start up must ensure that the terms and conditions they are carrying on business meet their own individual requirements and needs. We assist I providing tailored T & C’s for the startup business Regulation

Most if not all industries have seen level of regulation whereby new entrants or startups must consider their own individual requirements for compliance. We assist you in ensuring compliance.


Intellectual Property ‘IP’

Maximize Investment and minimize reduction in Shareholding to Business owner(s). Your advisors job is to fulfill this goal for YOU. We pursue this aspect throughout and if is considered to be the single most important goal whilst maintaining the business philosophy

We advise on all aspects on trademarks, patents, copyright, design rights and passing off. Business start-ups must protect their own IP whilst at the same time ensuring they are not infringing any other party’s IP rights.


Some Helpful Links

Introduction to starting up

Location & Where to Start Up Start-Up-Incubation-Space.shortcut.html

Compliance with starting up Revenue-Guide-to-Setting-Up-a-Business.pdf OurEvents/IdeaGen/Overview.html Funding OurEvents/EnterpriseSTART-Programme/ EnterpriseSTART-Programme.html

If you would like to learn more about your start up please feel free to contact me, Gary Irwin on Ph:

+353 (0)1 845 9110

Mob: +353 (0)187 775 0891

Email: Web:

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Mr XL’s Gerry Hand meets David Sloan, a small man with a very BIG business.

When David Sloan says he has a regular clientele rather than customers in his Swords shop he’s not being boastful, he is in fact being 100% accurate. Sloan owns Mr Xls in the Castle shopping centre, and as the name suggests he caters for the larger man. He’s bang on the money then with his opening assertion. ‘I would tend to have a regular clientele, there are other shops that cater for the big guys, there’s four in Dublin city, but I have a customer base who come to me time and time again, they travel from as far away as Donegal and Kerry.’ So just how big is big ? ‘We stock up to 7XL that’s XXXXXXXL in laymans terms and do up to size 60 in waist size, we can access 9XL if it’s requested, and if you really want to know how big is big quite a few of my clients have to walk in the door sideways, and one or two are that tall they have to bend down as they enter.


‘The unusual thing is most of them have wives or partners who are about 5’2 in height and weigh seven stone.’ And it all began thanks to a chance conversation. ‘Just as the recession was starting to bite I was driving a taxi for a living, and yes i had famous people in the back of my cab, Henrik Larsson that played with Celtic for one, Ian Botham, Steven rae and Brendan Gleeson as well. ‘I enjoyed it when it was busy but got bored when it was slack and durng the bad times it was often slack, and this day a mate of mine happened tomention he was going shopping in Paris, I was intrigued and when I asked why he told me he couldn’t get clothes to fit him here in Ireland. ‘I was after coming into an inheritance and was looking for something to invest in and it struck me that this was a good idea, and thankfully I have been proved correct.

‘There were a couple of other factors drove me to it as well, first;ly i was never one for signing on the dole if i could avoid it, and the way the taxi gig was going that was becoming a more and more likely scenario, and secondly I was getting on in years and the reality was I wasn’t going to get another full time job, so working for myself was really the only obvious option.’ A strange anomaly in the business is that quite often David never actually gets to meet his best customers. ‘A lot of guys that size are a bit embarrassed about, God knows why they have no need to be, and will send their wife or partner in to do the buying and more and more are starting to buy online, it’s essential to have an online presence. ‘Look you know it wasn’t plain sailing at the start, I had eight years of hardship during the recession, but I just had to be patient and keep going because I knew I’d turn the corner some time.

+353 (0)1 890 2583

‘I have been told I am a very enthusiastic person, but there were times I had more enthusiasm than I had sales, but it’s going grand now. ‘My last two jobs suited me actually as I am a peoples person, I get enjoyment out of having a chat and that was a big part of taxi driving and it is a huge part of shop work.’ Like all outfitters there are times when David has to tactfully advise against a purchase. ‘I’ll give you an example, actualy this has happened more than once, I have had guys coming in and asking to try on a white suit, I don’t stock them because.....................well come on can you imagine a big fellain a white suit, it just wouldn’t look right on them,.

‘Another item that I get asked for occasionally is a glitter suit, that guys wear when playing on stage in a band or whatever, the problem is that while I can get them in order for it to financially viable I have to buy things like that in bulk, and quite simply i wouldn’t sell enough of them to make it worth my while.’ Now when David Sloan says he has everything for the bigger man he’s not exaggerating either. ‘In pyjamas for example I go up 8XL and 7XL in boxers and underpants, they would both be fair old sellers now. ‘It’s a fairly unique market that I cater for so I tend to retain customers, after all they can’t just walk around the corner and find a similar shop can they.’

There is thoughts of an expansion, but at the moment space restrictions confine that idea to mere thoughts. ‘If I had a bigger premises I definitely think I would branch out into the women’s side of the business, there’s a market there for that.’ There is one problematic area of the shop business,one that costs retailers thousands each year, that Sloan avoids, and he gets a good laugh out of doing so. ‘I wouldn’t get much shoplifters that’s for sure I can’t imagine any of them having a customer base who would require the sizes I stock.’ ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs



• Jeans • Polos • T-shirts • Hoodies • Trousers • Jackets • Shirts • Suits • Casual Jackets • Knitwear

FREE shipping* (within Ireland) Secure credit card payment by pay pal. Returns are hassle free, just return in store / by mail.

Castle Shopping Centre, Bridge St, Townparks, Swords, Co. Dublin

The Grill House Gerry Hand meets two Egyptian brothers who are educating their clientele in the joys of Middle Eastern food.

Makarem Mazalim leans back in his chair recalls his first experience of working in an Irish kitchen and startles the customers in his Swords restauarant with a belly laugh. Home is Alexandria, Egypt’s largest port city, and a place Makarem left for Ireland after he had finished college and his compulsory one year army duty. ‘There were three places I could have gone to, Italy, Greece or Ireland and I chose Ireland because it was the smallest of the three and also I had friends here. ‘I worked in kitchens in Taylors of Three Rock and Wrights of Howth, firstly as a second chef then as a head chef before the opportunity arose to get involved in my own business, well I say my, I should say our as my brother Ibrahim is very much involved too.

‘We decdied from the start we were going to have a Middle Eastern restaurant but we reckoned if we gave it an Arabic name people would not know what it was so we went for an Irish name and called it the Grill House’.

‘Every single dish we use our own spices, if you walk into any other Lebanese or middle eastern establishment in this country and order the same food you have ordered her I guarantee you that you won’t get the same taste.

The name may be quinsetentially Irish, the food on the other hand is definitely middle eastern.

‘It’s working as well as we are getting some very positive feedback, we have seena lot of first time customers who don’t exactly know what they are going to getin terms of food, turn into regulars and that’s a definite plus.

Ibrahim chips in, ‘The food is from the middle east and the Meditteraenean, it’s not what the Irish are used to but we are teaching them,’ before echoing his brothers earlier belly laugh. Makarem adds, ‘The difference between us and other similar restaurants is we don’t compromise,most other places take the taste out of the food to suit the Irish palate, the texture is not the same, we don’t do that.

‘We import all our basic spices from the middle east and create our own variation of them, every Monday and Thursday we take delivery of fresh beef, chicken and lamb, and people are always intrigued by the fact they can see us front of house preparing their food. Continued on page 45 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Lebanese & Mediterranean Restaurant, Takeaway & Delivery

OPEN 7 DAYS (Byob free corkage)

Unit 5, Castle Shopping Centre, Bridge St, Swords, Dublin

(01) 840 6567


+353 (0)1 840 6567 @thegrillhouseswords

▶▶▶ Continued from page 43 ‘One thing that has caught my attention is that a lot of cutomers have told us that when they dine here they actually feel like they are on their holidays, I am so pleased to hear that as it means the authentic experience we are striving for is working.’ Perhaps the middle east dish that Irish people know best is Moussaka, and Makarem explains why that is. ‘It suits the Irish palate, it works because of the spice, tomatoes and then the aubergine compliments the rest of it.’ Quite small by comparison with other similar enterprises, the

Grill house certainly has a unique atmosphere. Arabian music fills the room and the scent of exotica is everywhere, just how the brothers, and it seems the punters too, like it. ‘When we came in we revamped it, built a new front of house kitchen and decided to keep the dining area nice and tight, we have seen how that works in so far as people at one table chat with those on another, it builds a lovely atmosphere. ‘I suppose you could call us a hidden gem, our name is getting out there though, we are seeing more and more new faces come through the door. ‘I always dreamed of running my own business, I can’t say I ever imagined it being in ireland, but you know what I am very glad it is.’ And there’s plenty of customers glad it is as well. ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs 45

Dinny Collins Fitness Gerry Hand encounters a man who discovered his passion thanks to a life changing accident.

Dinny Collins, the man behind Dinny Collins fitness in Swords, has a very simple statement that sums up exactly how he operates. He declares, and with some conviction, ‘Give me a week and I will have you feeling great, give me a month and I will have you looking great.’ Some would call that a mission statement, Collins simply calls it a statement of fact. ‘I can deliver on it, I have delivered on it regularly, that’s why I know it’s factual, there’s enough people I have trained who will vouch for what I say.’ And it all began with a life altering accident! ‘First things first I was never a fitness freak or a sports fanatic, at school I was always the lad left standing against the wall and the last pick in a football team for the game in the yard at break time, I was always active, I was born and bred in donabate so surfing was a hobby, but as regards organised exercise sessions, forget that, it was never my thing.


‘When I left school I went into the family business which was the steel game, and that was what I was working in when I had a bad accident over in Australia that saw me on the broad of my back in hospital for close on eight months. ‘To say it was a life changing experience is a reasonable shout, I had plenty of time to read and think and I decided that as I had been given a second chance at life I was going to look after my body, although one surgeon, when I told him that, quickly told me the heaviest thing iwould ever lift was a bag of sugar. ‘In the condition I was in there was nothing I could do in terms of getting fit apart from hydrotheraphy, basically exercising in the kids paddling pool area of a swimming pool, and I couldn’t do much there either. ‘I judged my progress by the fact that the pain I was in wasn’t getting any worse, that’s how bad I was at the time, I would walk four widths of the pool one day and maybe eight the next day and decide that as the pain was no worse after doing double the amount of walking I had to be making progress.’

Then another pointer as to which direction Dinny’s life should take arrived in the post! ‘My mother sent me over a book called ‘Start your own business in Ireland’, I read that and realised that while I had fallen into the steel business it was not my passion, and that changed everything for me. ‘I came home did a few courses that were required to begin working as a personal trainer and away I went, I had discovered because of an accident, and almost by accident, what I really wanted to do in life.’ Initially Collins began running outdoor training session, he specialises in working with kettle bells, around Fingal, and that went so well he was soon faced with his first big business decision. ‘The classes kind of took off so I was forced into thinking about the next step which was securing a premises to run them in, I hummed and hawed quite a bit about that but in the end I went for it and we are now well established in Seatown business park.’

+353 (0)87 905 2155

There is an obvious challenge in the fitness business, in that all manner of exercise and fitness instruction is readily available online, so do people really need to fork out money when they can coach themselves for free. ‘Everyone knows what to do, however we all need someone or something to motivate us and that’s where we come in. ‘Even our personal training is slightly different in so far as it is not one to one sessions, we have found that people work better in small groups as they like to have others around them, cost wise we will provide you with unlimited classes from 65 euro a month. ‘Fitness means the ability to do specific things and we tend at Dinny Collins fitness to concentrate on all round fitness.’ And while his company works with people of all ages Dinny declares that even those who have kept in reasonable shape all through their life need advice as they get older.

‘As you age your metabolism slows down and your body fat increases and contrary to what people think cardio exercise, like walking and running, while they help, is not always the right way to shift fat.

‘I have loads of ideas I want to incorporate into the business, you know what this used to be a job that paid the bills now it is all about finding new ways to progress the business itself .’

‘If you want to lose weight then strength and resistance training is the way to go, for adults the best way is weight training, that builds your metabolism back up, you should be doing squats, push ups, dumb bells, any kind of strength and resistance training, that is the way to go.’

He’s not all that less hands on though, the day we spoke he had been up at 5am to run classes was still going strong at 3pm and intending to stay to oversee evening classes as well.

Collins also trains sports teams, ‘I have worked with a lot of football teams, but these days I don’t go looking for them they tend to find me, the Dinny Collins Fitness facebook page works well in that regard.’

‘I’m loving it, the hours fly by when you love what you do.’ ◼

Now 36 years old Collins is less hands on that he used to be, but is still the brains behind the whole success story. ‘I have found that i have developed more into a business owner right enough, I don’t train as many people as I used to, but I am always thinking of ways to improve things.

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


as seen on TG4, The Evening Herald and The North County Leader

GIVE ME A WEEK AND I’LL MAKE YOU FEEL GREAT GIVE ME A MONTH AND I’LL MAKE YOU LOOK GREAT Personal Training Transformations Classes suitable for beginners




G&D Projects Gerry Hand meets Alan Doyle of G&D projects.

Alan Doyle, the D in G&D projects is a very engaging man. Open and frank, he laughs a lot, even when recalling the times when he hadn’t a lot to laugh about. Born into the building game, ‘My father and uncles were all in it, I started doing it during the Easter and summer holidays as a teenager’, Doyle has emerged from the crushing recession to smile a lot on the other side, but with memories of just how bad things were to drive him on. His laugh cascades around the room as he recalls, ‘I’ll tell you how bad they were, on one job a guy who owed us money was very up front about it he said he could give us half the money he owed and that was it.’

‘We took it and appreciated the fact he at least made an effort to pay us something, back then the banks hammered us, savings were taken to pay off overdrafts, it was a terrible time, absolutely terrible, don’t let anyone tell you differently.

‘You were pushing money around in a circle, but crucially I made sure everyone got paid and that has stood to me since myself and the brother in law, Raymond Green, he’s the G in the name, went out on our own four years ago.

‘There were weeks when you wondered where the next job was coming from and you were always robbing Peter to pay Paul, you would get a few weeks credit from one supplier do the job, get credit off another supplier and do a second job during which time you got enough money in to pay your first supplier.

A lifteimes experience also stood to Doyle, ‘I had built up a very good contact list of architechts and others in the trade that I had worked with and that helped a lot in the beginning.’

‘To be fair the bigger suppliers realised how bd it was and gave you alittle extra breathing space, there was a real sense of u all having to dig in together to keep the show on the road.

Alan can also clearly recall when he sensed the tide begin to turn back in his favour. ‘Back in 2014 when we started off G&D Projects, we called it that after a lot of soul searching and being unable to agree on anything else, we suddenly found we had work lined up for months ahead and that gave us serious encouragement.’ Continued on page 51 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs 49

Your Complete Building Service G&D Construction Projects Ltd provide a high quality, competitive building service to homeowners and commercial customers in the greater Dublin area. Led by Alan Doyle, a kitchen and bathroom renovation specialist and his partner Ray Greene, a carpenter and builder, we bring a combined total of more than 40 years experience to every construction project.







Tel: 087 240 4664 / 086 851 3409 Email:

+353 (0)87 240 4664/(0)86 851 3409

▶▶▶ Continued from page 49 Doyle, as befits someone with his sense of humour, reveals that there is a humorous side to the building project game that goes unseen but is completely crucial at the same time. The laugh echoes again, ‘People don’t know this but you have to be a bit of a psychologist in this business. ‘If we go into a job and, with all our years of experience, can see that there might be a better way to doit,or a better end prodduct for the customer, than what they originally wanted us to do, then we have to subtly persuade them around to our way of thinking.

‘Thankfully it’s usually the case that when the job is done people would see the sense in what we suggested, but trust me one of the hardest parts of this game is to convince people to do the right thing. ‘I have found though that for every problem there is a solution, it’s justa matter of thinking your way through things.’ The ability of G&D projects to get the job done, and done to the highest possible level is not in question, countless satistfied customers will attest to that, but running a business has presented its own unique set of problems, one

of which Doyle hasn’t quite managed to get to grasps with just yet. ‘Social media! I’m not social media savvy at all, we are looking at getting someone in to run that sid eof things for us, it’s something we have to address.’ Like the man said for every problem there is a solution, and if you have a building project lined up then G&D projects are the right company to provide you with all the solutions you require. ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Powell Insulations Gerry Hand talks to Paul Powell of Powell Insulations.

If it really is true that you cannot beat experience then Paul Powell of Powell insulation is the man for the job when insulation is on your agenda. Thirty plus years in the business, he has survived the rough and tumble of two recessions, one as an employee one as an employer, and come out the other side as happy as a sand boy. ‘Like most businesses word of mouth is the key to success or failure, and thankfully we have had a lot of customers suggest to their family and friends that we are good at what we do. ‘I worked for an insulation company for over three decades before going out on my own and was doing that during the recession in the eighties, the recession this time around was harder for me as I was an employer and had staff to worry about.


‘I actually had to liquidate a company I ran because, and to this day I remember the amounts involved, I owed 180k and people owed me exactly twice that, 360k, and unfortunately I ended up the same as a lot of other fellas not being paid, I tried hard but just couldn’t get through it. ‘The receiver came in and the Revenue got paid, but even he couldn’t get the rest of the money it, people simply didn’t have it. ‘I was just glad to be able to rebrand and go again, as I was in my forties then and this line of work is all I knew, and what was a big help was the fact an awful lot of clients stuck by me.’ And while he doesn’t exclusively do it, there is one particular line of the insulation game that Powell Insulation do get a lot of work from.

‘We would do a fair bit of retro fitting, if you remember in the ‘60s and ‘70s here in Ireland there would be more cold than heat in your house. ‘We would go into house that were built back then and would often have a couple of inches thick cavity walls with nothing in them, so the heat wasn’t staying in, we fill the cavities in, draft proof windows and doors and do ventilation. ‘You then end up with a house which is far more comfortable to be in and as the heat is now retained the house is a lot cheaper to run.’ Then there is the drive to bring houses in line with new regulations. ‘On a site now all houses have to be built to ‘A’ level regulations, and we got a lot of work, perhaps as many as 5000 houses from various councils who have to bring their houses up to regulation.

+353 (0)1 841 3130

‘Since the situation that developed in Long boat Quay and Clare Hall all new houses are now tightly regulated, when we do a job we have to put our label on it, photograph that and mark it on the drawing, things have tightened up a lot.’ Given his harrowing recession experience, Paul was well placed to spot the upturn in the economy which he feels actually only happened quite recently. ‘About three years ago I saw things turn around, and here’s how I noticed it, in the recession we did a lot of fire and sound proofing in houses, that kind of kept us ticking over, but from around 2015 all the new companies starting up had to modernise their insulation and proofing, so we started to get a lot of business there. The majority of our fire proofing works are carried out in office blocks & apartment blocks / commercial units, we do domestic houses from time to time but mainly the latter’

For the last twelve months Paul himself has been drawn more to the administrative side of the business, something that leaves him with a pang of regret. ‘Up to last year I was out helping the lads on site, and I miss the craic and the banter, but I am adapting to the new role, ah look I get the job done right anyway.’ Thousands of satisfied customers would agree with that. ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Powell Insulations is the recognised leader in the supply and installation of all commercial and residential insulation needs. Whilst having a massive residential customer base, we are the builders choice for provision of insulation to new & old homes!!!

Attic Insulation

Cavity Wall Insulation


Choosing the right insulation for a home can have dramatic effects on the costs associated with heating and cooling the home

All exterior walls of your home or building should be insulated. Insulation is a key component of the building envelope and will have a major impact on both energy efficiency and the comfort level inside.

Drylining is primarily a method of finishing walls & ceilings with a board product as opposed to the more traditional block / brick & plaster.

Phone: 01 841 3130 Mobile: 087 264 7322 Fax: 01 841 7366


Chem Dry Gerry Hand meets John Green, the driving force behind Chem Dry.

John Green, the driving force behind Chem Dry, puts it very simply when asked what is so unique about his product. ‘It does what it says on the tin it’s that simple, it’s a hot carbonated carpet cleaning system that really really works, it’s a 3 in 1 franchise, it cleans carpets, upholstery and tiles, and we have the master licence for it here in Ireland.’ And it all began because of a holiday and a hell of a lot of coincidences! ‘I was in England for a few days break and had just gone in to buy an evening paper when I spotted a magazine called Business Franchise so i bought that as well. ‘When I went back to the hotel there was a guy cleaning my room and in conversation he told me he was a franchisee for Chem Dry, we got chatting, he asked me where I was from and when I told him he said nobody in Ireland had the franchise for the system and strongly advised me to take it in.

‘He left and I sat down to read the magazine and incredibly the first page I opened it on the advert was for Chem Dry, I just thought someone is trying to tell me something here.’ Green’s next move initially caused consternation among the hotel staff. ‘I went looking for the housekeeper to see what their opinion was on Chem Dry, but normally when someone is looking for the housekeeper it’s with a complaint so they were dodging me until i explained why I wanted to see them. ‘When I spoke to the lady she recommended it highly and told me the big advantage for the hotel was they had no down time, when it was used it was dry in two hours so they could continue to let the room out, whereas with traditional steam cleaning they had to let it dry out overnight.’

Green then sought advice much closer to home from someone who needed serious persuasion to buy into the idea. ‘My dad was a cleaning supervisor with Aer Rianta for thirty years and first off he said ‘Don’t go near it, I’ve been a life time in the business and nobody has come up with a decent system. ‘I still thought the idea would work, so my brother Pat, who is involved in the business with me, and I brought dad over to London to actually see the system working and he turned round and said, ‘I wish someone had invented this when I was still working’, that was all the encouragement we needed. ‘When we came home we made a few further enquiries and signed the franchise agreement to use it in Ireland.’ However old habits die hard and at the outset John had to convince customers about the new method. Continued on page 57 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs




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▶▶▶ Continued from page 55 ‘The key is we don’t saturate the carpet, we use a natural based cleaning solution, and use about a tenth of the water used in steam cleaning, but explaining that to customers still left them a little wary so we had to do small demos for them, and thankfully a lot of them bought into the idea then.’ Now the biggest carpet cleaning company in Ireland, ‘We do private houses as well as commercial premises such as the Gresham, Jurys, the Grand in Malahide and the Marine in Sutton, to name a few’, Chem Dry have also had their system independently tested to prove that they remove 98% of allergens during their process. And John knows the whole shebang from the ground up so to speak. ‘At the start we literally got our hands dirty, we did everything from selling the job to actually doing the cleaning, it had given us a complete knowledge of what the job entails.

‘One thing I did notice was that at the start when we introduced ourselves and went in and did the job we were treated okay, but now when we introduce ourselves as the owner of the business and say that our staff will do the job we are treated totally differently. ‘Quite why that is I am not sure because myself and Pat are the same people we were back then, but it has happened.’ And the next stage of the company’s development was to franchise the system out to interested parties.

Like any business there are tricks of the trade, but John has brought a novel idea in, one that is so simple that , like all great ideas, you wonder how nobody thought of it before. ‘With a new client we always call back two days later to make sure they are satisfied and then we always send out a card thanking them for giving us the business, we have ended up in a situation where we get cards back thanking us for thanking them.’ Chem Dry proving it’s nice to be nice. ◼

‘We are looking for individuals who want to go into business for themselves but crucially not by themselves, with us we iron out your normal start up problems beforehand and show you that you are buying into a proven system, and once you start we have an ongoing support system in place.’

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Country Crest Foods Gerry Hand meets meets Michael Hoey, Managing Director of Country Crest Foods.

There’s a justifiable air of pride in the voice of Country Crest MD, Michael Hoey, when he declares, ‘my Dad and my Grandad were potato and vegetable farmers.’

learning curve. There was no manual available to tell you how to do things, so it was a case of learning as you went and dealing with the many challenges you meet when you start a business.’

The justification is housed in the fact that Michael has learned well, and with his brother Gabriel, they now oversee a company with a three pronged business strategy.

‘We had to learn to make tough decisions, which at times was vital for us to actually stay in business – a large number of businesses in our area of expertise failed, especially in the recent recession.’

‘There are three different areas in Country Crest – farming; packing and distributing potatoes and onions, and a fresh prepared meals division – Ballymaguire Foods. We have a great team who farm potatoes, onions, cereal and beef over a 20 mile radius of Lusk; we are the chief packers of potatoes and onions for Tesco; and Ballymaguire Foods produces soups, sauces, and fresh prepared meals for Irish retailers under the Ballymaguire Foods label.’

‘What we found was that although people still wanted our product they hadn’t the money to buy it, and that made things difficult for us’.

‘We are celebrating our silver anniversary in business this year, and while this is a fantastic milestone – it wasn’t easy at the start. When we started out, it was a steep

Michael’s also adamant that discipline is a key element of the company’s success, but not discipline in the traditional sense of the word.


‘The banks wouldn’t listen to you during that period and really just trying to keep things going was probably the hardest part of the last twenty five years. Interest rates were cripplingly high and nobody from the lending sector was interested in helping out.’

‘What I mean by discipline is actually disciplining yourself to work by the rules and regulations, you cannot take short cuts or it will backfire on you.’ Whatever Michael has had to do to get where he is today, he has certainly done. Crucially, it’s worked. The workforce now employed by County Crest is testament to what has been achieved. ‘We have approximately 340 employees now, but we built it block by block, brick by brick, as the cliché goes – it has taken us 25 years to become an overnight success! ‘You have to be at the top of your game every single day, and every single day you have to deliver the product properly. If you take your eye off the ball for a moment you’ll have problems.’ Michael’s obviously happy with Country Crest’s progress, but happier still that he’s not starting out in business today.

+353 (0)1 843 7061

The Farmer’s Journal

‘I think the banks are harder to deal with than ever these days, anyone starting out in business is finding it impossible to source finance’. ‘I feel there is a gap in the market for capital. I know there are firms springing up everywhere advertising that they have money to lend, but trust me it is very expensive money, if somebody comes in and lends cheaply they will do well.’ Gargoyle Creative

It’s not all plain sailing though, Country Crest has negotiated some seriously choppy waters. ‘There are things you cannot control, the spring we didn’t have this year caused untold issues and clearly that’s something you cannot legislate for.’ ‘But look overall we are in a good place, we have a fabulous team here and their efforts have made us what we are today.’ ◼

Fintan Clarke

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Gargoyle Creative

Our family business has been growing for generations. Today, we supply retailers at home and abroad with Irish potatoes, onions and prepared meal solutions

01 843 7061

@CountryCrest Gerry Hand meets Cathal Heneghan the creator of

Firstly the basics. creates bespoke mobile apps for SMEs (Android and iOS). The concept being the customer only pays for what they require from an app. They offer E-commerce solutions, booking systems, push notifications, social media sharing platform and GPS locator. It’s fair to say that Cathal Heneghan had the start-up and SME market in mind when creating this exciting new business. Cathal explains, ‘The inspiration behind me coming up with, was simple. My brother created a concept of developing an app and looked into the costs. After much investigating he realized the pricing of developing a mobile app was astronomical. People are paying €30,000 to €50,000 for an app and it seemed to be the average price

and nobody batted an eyelid. I thought to myself why is it only big companies, the major players, have mobile apps? It’s obviously the price point’ ‘As a professional digital marketer, I noticed more people were downloading apps to engage with their favourite brands. Through much research and development in the app arena, I predicted major growth going forward. It was at this moment, I decided to go for it.’ What sets apart from its competitors is the company doesn’t take any of their client’s revenue which has been generated on their E-commerce platform. ‘Other companies take a percentage, but we don’t, whatever sales they generate within the app, is theirs’.

‘As a business owner, we know only too well how important it is to mass market to your customers. Within our apps, business owners can send out push notifications ie. offers, sales, promotion to their customers and in turn customers can share the same across any social media platform of their choice. This ensures your brand is growing organically thus saving on further marketing costs’ Heneghan is eager to get his message out there and ensure is the “go to” mobile app company for all SMEs and potential start-ups across Ireland, UK and beyond. His team of highly skilled developers and sales professionals have worked tirelessly to ensure they are present at notable events. Recently they were the mobile app partner for “The Continued on page 63 ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


We create bespoke mobile apps to help grow your business

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▶▶▶ Continued from page 61 All Ireland Business Summit” hosted in Croke Park and also proud partners of Amplify Digital Marketing Conference recently held in Cork City Hall. They are generously offering all potential prospects and clients a free thirty-minute consultation to discuss the possibilities of MyNewApp. com with no obligation to buy. ‘If they want additional products we can do that, everything is achievable. The biggest thing is that time is money, so for the average business our turnaround rate would be somewhere in the region of four to six weeks. We pride ourselves on delivering upon our promise and

where we can we will go the extra mile to have it completed sooner. ‘It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution but the guiding principles of our business model allow s to be highly competitive in the marketplace. Heneghan and his team at MyNewApp. com are excited for what the future holds. They look forward to disrupting the digital space by ensuring every company no matter what the size is represented within the mobile app arena. They believe every business should have the opportunity to grow and reach its full potential at a fair price point in today’s competitive market. Get in touch today “Make It Appen” for your business... ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs


Fingal Glass Gerry Hand meets Larry Teeling of Fingal Glass.

Larry Teeling has over 30 years’ experience in the glazing trade and he and his team offer a unique and extensive range of services and products for homes and businesses across Dublin and surrounding areas at his new premises in Swords. Despite not envisioning having a career as a glazier or an entrepreneur, Larry is paving the way in his trade! Fingal Glass was a family run business for 40 years until Larry took over the workshop in January. The glazier wants to continue the good name his predessacor worked hard to maintain over decades but is also excited to breath new blood into the venture and introduce a massive range of services and products previously unavailable there. Larry started serving his time as an apprentice glazier when learning the trade encompassed a huge skillet that involved intricate processes and systems and becoming familiar with every aspect of glazing that isn’t taught today. So it’s fair to say that anything he doesn’t know about this business simply isn’t worth knowing! Expert now as he may be, this career path may not have come to pass if it wasn’t for this father’s strong views on having a trade. “The day before I started my apprenticeship back in 1986


I didn’t actually know that glazing was the trade I was going into, “he admits, adding “I come from a family of twelve and everyone has a trade. My father maintained that if you had one you could feed yourself so he said you are starting an apprenticeship in the morning and off I went.” “When I started serving my time allaminium windows were hugely popular and three months into the apprenticeship the boss at the time sent for my father to come up and talk to him. He arrived at the door and asked where all the aluminium windows were and I said that’s not what I do, I create mixed stained glass windows for churches. He was a bit shocked, my boss John arrived on the scene and told him I was doing very well and got me to show my father what I was learning so he understood where the apprenticeship was going.” At the time when I was an apprentice the Montclare Hotel was being built and interior designers such as Anna Bradley were working on the project. I went on to run the stain glass department for The Irish Pub Company part of the McNally design group. I worked for Nell McNally for years. Nell was years ahead of his time.”

Larry had been working for 14 years with a glass company in Navan when the recession hit and the business closed. As he admits himself becoming an entrepreneur happened through circumstance rather than some carefully devised plan. “I realistically didn’t have a choice. I had four children and found myself unemployed for the first time in my life. I walked into a dole office and I stood inside for about four or five minutes looking around,” he recalls, adding “A security man came over and said, are you ok son and I said yeah. He said you have never been here before have you and I said no. So he told me to go over and get into the queue to sign on.” “So I went in the queue and the girl behind the desk explained everything to me. She said that I’d have 402 euros every week to feed a family of five. I told her that I couldn’t live on that and I’d go and start a business. She told me not to as it would collapse in the current climate. She advised me to get a business plan together and she’d organise an appointment for me in the Blanchardstown Partnership Scheme.” “I had no intentions to going out in business, I was quite happy to work and collect my wages every week,” he says.

+353 (0)1 840 1269

Although this was his first rendezvous with business, he had been inadvertently running the business of his previous employer in the last few months of the company and already had much of the know how involved. Now he just needed to establish his next move. “When I started out Blanchardstown Glass had been closed three years so I range Eircom and explained that I had been ringing the number for Blanchardstown Glass and it was dead and asked if I could buy the number. She told me I could and asked for my credit card number to pay the €19.95 fee. A short panic ensued when crossed wires made Larry think the amount was actually €1,995 and wondered how he would explain that he paid someone else’s phone bill to wife Pamela who is also involved in the business! Luckily for him, the Eircom assistant reassured him that was 20 quid rather than a couple of grand and within an hour of the number being up and running the phone began to ring and Larry was in business. So what has Larry found are the biggest challenges in enterprise? “The biggest challenges of running your own business is staff and finding the correct people that know what you know. It’s a bit difficult to explain without blowing my own trumpet but If I had

somebody who could do what I do, I would be working on the business and not so much in the business. If I had somebody that was as qualified as I am they could take the pressure off me.” “Our new employee Rob came back into the trade which I was delighted about and has lots of experience. My son Kian is doing great as a first year apprentice and is learning as he goes a long and it’s all hands on. A couple of years ago I rang Fas looking for an apprentice and the girl who I was talking to informed me that glazing was not a recognised trade anymore so I lost the head with them needless to say.” “A while later somebody rang back and asked what my name was. When I told him it was Larry Teeling, he said he was looking back at his old books and could tell me that I did my training when Fas was formally called Anco. He knew that I was part of a scheme where participants were sent from glass company to glass company learning all different aspects of the trade to give young people a good start in life.” “It turned out that he organised that scheme and asked me to come in to talk to him. He offered me a position as an instructor to rewrite the trade.”

“We were working with hydrofluoric acid, silk screen acid, hand painted stain glass and copper file work, “he describes, adding, “You learned the whole spectrum of glazing compared to today. I didn’t take him up on his offer. I was after putting three years into my business at the time and I thought that I may as well keep going with it, there’s no point dropping at the first hurdle.” He reveals, “I tell people your life is over as you know it when you start your own business up until the stage that someone you can trust can look after it for you. No one is going to look after your business like you do, be under no illusion about that. No one cares about your business as much as you do because they haven’t invested the money, time or the hours. People say you have your own hours, you don’t. On average I leave house at 7 or 8am every morning and I’m lucky if I come through the door at 9 or 10pm at night.” “If the odd time I mange to get home around 6pm and meet my neighbour in the garden, he’ll say, what are you doing a half day for, because it would be unusual to see me home so early.” ▶▶▶

Interviews with Entrepreneurs 65

The Fingal based entrepreneur says that many companies advertise a 24-hour service but his team really do work around the clock. “We have a contract with Ireland Assist and work with numerous insurance companies that call us in the middle of the night and we go.” “If you need a double glazed unit we can have it in around 40 minutes from the time we cut it. We stock a lot of laminated safety glass so If someone is broken into on a Saturday or Sunday and somebody is willing to put in a double glazed unit for them and make their home secure people are so grateful.” “Google doesn’t do word of mouth. You are only as good as your last job. You are never going to please everyone all of the time but if you please 99 per cent most of the time, you are doing ok,” he says. Larry also says it’s hard to switch off when you come home especially as both Larry and Pamela run the business. “Pamela is always very concerned about what the customers think and will remind me of what I have to do the next day for someone.” “For the first couple of months after opening, we were finding our feet. We were all over the place and anyone that says they aren’t are bloody liars,” he states. The Ballyfermot native wants to use his knowledge and experience in the trade and provide a unique service in Swords and Fingal. “Our product range will be vastly expanded. People won’t just come in to a get table top, mirror or shelf, you can come in and choose PCV windows and doors. We want to be accessible to the community instead of people going elsewhere. If they have an after sale problem and they need us, they can drive up the lane, come in and sit down and have a chat with us and we will send somebody over to investigate. If they


use someone local, they can always rely on coming back within the same day. Larry says there’s a lot of interest in one of his products - composite doors but insists the hype is deserved. “The beauty of a composite door is that it is airtight. The heat from A rated windows is sickening initially because you are not used to this heat in your own home. You will have to monitor your thermostat and central heating afterwards. Typically, your heating bill will be reduced by about 60 percent. You lose so much heat through your windows it’s unbelievable. If you don’t have the correct windows you are losing heat all of the time.” Larry, Pamela and the team are keen to get to know their market area and are great believers in supporting the local community. “If people were fully aware of what we do here, they wouldn’t be going elsewhere. When I had a workshop elsewhere we sponsored the local GAA team we bought them jerseys and really got involved in the locality.” “God created the world in six days and on the 7th he went hurling,” is the response I got when I asked if sport was important to him! “My father played for Owen Roe, one of the oldest clubs in Dublin. I played senior with O Tooles and intermediate with Liffey Gaels. Sport in our house was very important. My father had 12 kids and he maintained that if he kept us all involved in sport we could never get into trouble.” “At a fundraiser in St Bridget’s GAA we cut a square out of a sheet of plywood and inserted a piece of glass put a hundred

euro note in the back and whoever broke the glass with a sliotar won. The adults were coming up and pushing the kids aside there was so much fun being had.” Fingal Glass has an array of big clients including Boyle Sports, Eddie Rockets, Tesco as well as contracts with schools, hotels, bars and restaurants. They also carry out work for NUI Maynooth, St Patrick’s College and DCU. Despite this impressive list, Larry insists that east customer is just as important as the next. “A customer said to me the other day, my job is small so it won’t be very important to you and I said, your job is as important as a woman coming in wanting a 6x4 picture frame glass as the guy who is down the town who is misfortunate to have a large shop window vandalised. Everyone gets the same level of attention.” “We want to corner the market in Fingal, there’s plenty of work for everyone, we can all make a living. I would like people to be fully aware of how accessible things are here and what are product range is compared to the previous Fingal Glass. This was previously a glass shop essentially supplying a town but we are different and have a lot more to bring to the table.” ◼

Fingal Glass Centre

Visit our showrooms today or contact us to discuss your no obligation quote 01 840 1269

Commercial Glass Services

Residential Glass Services

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We can fit and supply all types of glass to suit any commercial environment.

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We can assist you with converting your home into a brighter, more secure & energy efficient home.

You can rest assured that we will attend to any glass emergencies as soon as possible, minimising any hazards, security risks and disruptions to your business.

We also offer fast glass replacements to ensure minimum disruption to your business. Our team are experienced glazers and can provide you with an efficient, uncomplicated service at competitive rates.




The Green, Rathbeale Rd,


Mon - Fri 08:30 - 17:00

Swords, Co. Dublin



13:00 -13:00

Sat 09:00 - 13:00 (Closed on Bank Holiday Weekends)

Pitman Training Gerry Hand meets Maria Lalor of Pitman Training Swords.

As any good journalist will tell you shorthand is essential for most jobs in that line of work. And back in the day the school of choice for learning shorthand was the Pitman school. There’s a branch of that very school in Swords right now, but as Maria Lalor, who owns the business, reveals, with a slight nod to Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin! ‘Back in the day Pitman was all about shorthand and typing but we have moved with the times and now we train our people in everything you need to be a success working in an office admin role. ‘We have courses for legal secretaries, executive PA’s, book keepers and account technicians, we cover all the bases.


‘An office can have someone who is very good at their job in general, but may have a weakness in say SAGE or EXCEL, well inside 24 hours we can train them up to speed. ‘Ten years in existence, Lalor had her own first aid training business before she moved into the Pitman genre, ‘ Pitman Training UK are on hand to lend us any support we might need, but we are a stand alone business who deliver courses to an exceptionally high standard and here at Pitman we feel that education and training is the key.

Traditionally the secretarial field was a female dominated area but Lalor says that is no longer the case.

‘If both of those elements are allied to a natural ability to do the job they open doors and afford opportunities to our clients.

And if Lalor has learned anything in her decade at the helm of the Pitman school it is that it’s good to talk.

‘I’ll cite one of our students as an example, she did her legal secretary course with us and has now progressed to having completed her law degree and is doing her entrance exams as a solicitor, but the foundation of what she has achieved was done on our course.’

‘First of all I want to put it out there that all our courses are open to men and women, we have found a lot more guys are getting interested in this line of work, if a lad is interested in the legal profession but not necessarily in becoming a solicitor than the legal secretary course would suit, and it’s an option a lot of men are taking these days.’

‘With the corporate side of our business we have to make the call and talk to them, we have to get the brand name out there, and we usually do so successfully, the other side of the business where somebody walks in the door, completes a course and leaves for a job is very very satisfying.

+353 (0)1 840 4075

‘Watching that person leave here seeing a future in front of them and not a dead end, for me personally that’s very rewarding. ‘Even for those in a job already the training we provide can help, it gives you the confidence to progress within a company and shows you that advancement is actually quite possible, they learn new methods and suddenly realise that a job which they may have previously felt was mundane is actually quite okay.’ Pitman Training preps their students for job interviews, a factor Lalor says was vital during the hard times. ‘In the recession employers were a lot fussier so you had to be really prepped for interviews, you had to have the skill set we provide, it was harder, yes it was certainly harder, but our students still got jobs because they were trained and ready to go.

‘One of the things I love is when I make a call to a former student to tell them we have found a job that might suit them and they say, ‘Thanks but I am already sorted ‘, that’s a great feeling that they have landed their own job thanks to the training we gave them and the confidence we installed in them prior to interview.’ SME’s should be aware that Pitman Training Swords provides on the job training as well. ‘If a business requires it we can out and train up their staff at their premises, the bottom line is we are a proven success story with a proven track record in improving people in our chosen field.’ What more could you ask for. ◼

Interviews with Entrepreneurs 69

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FIND US AT Chamber Buildings, North Street, Swords, Co. Dublin K67 A347

Your business partner Your voice Your chamber

Fingal Dublin Chamber of Commerce Providing Local Connectivity to National and Multinational Business Fingal Dublin Chamber of Commerce delivers value to our members through a variety of opportunities to network, connect and engage. The Chamber is the accredited Chamber for the entire Fingal Region stretching from Blanchardstown in the west to Swords, Malahide in the east and Balbriggan in the north. As the region’s largest business organisation, we also provide advice, support, referrals and representation to help your business grow and develop. Fingal’s quality workforce and diverse economy create the ideal location to start, grow or re-locate a business. In addition to our member companies, the Fingal Dublin Chamber of Commerce has relationships with local, regional and national government and can help you to get the business information you need and to connect to the right people to help your business to grow and to succeed.

FINGAL DUBLIN CHAMBER MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS Fingal Dublin Chamber has provided leadership for the business community for nearly 20 years and is the leading and most influential network for businesses in the Fingal Dubin Region. Connecting With nearly 350 business members who employ an estimated 20,000+ staff across every business sector, the Chamber actively promotes, lobbies and represents the business community at every level. The Chamber provides networking opportunitites and a range of services for Members while actively promoting and supporting a strong sustainable local economy. It has built strong relationships with local and national government and is an active member of Chambers Ireland, the national body representing Chambers of Commerce. Creating a stronger local economy and promoting the community through leadership and by influencing business issues is a major part of the Chamber’s work. Now more than ever it is vital to have access to people, information and resources that can help grow your business which makes the Chamber a cost effective investment. Networking The Chamber provides extensive networking opportunities which are essential in today’s environment. Members can meet potential customers by attending our many events which is also an opportunity for you and your company to increase your visibility and raise your profile. Membership of the Chamber provides exposure and information which are important ingredients for business success while also offering the following:

• • • • •

An opportunity to create a stronger local economy Excellent Networking events Promoting the community Leadership and lobbying for businesses Publishing and providing free of charge to members our Year Book which includes all members contact details and an overview of the events held throughout the year Export documentation services which are a vital asset for any business involved in exporting

Certification & Exporting Documentation Services The Chamber is a leading provider of export documentation services including handling all documents for certification and legalisation for trading partners througout the worlsd as well as a Notary Public and an Apostille service through the Departmentof Foreign Affairs. Companies can also avail of a secure online digital documentation certification system through TradeCert. Corporate Respsonsibility Network The Fingal Dublin Chamber has also set up the Fingal Corporate Responsibility Network Forum with founding partner PayPal. The Network provides support for companies seeking to promote CSR as part of their efforts to act responsibly and build strong,ethical relationships with customers, suppliers, the community and the environment around them. By joining now you will be immediately included on our website and have access to all the latest developments in the Fingal Region.

WWW.FINGALDUBLINCHAMBER.IE/JOIN-FINGAL-CHAMBER Chamber Buildings, North Street, Swords, Co. Dublin. K67 A3H7

T. +353 (0)1 890 0977 E. W. @fingalchamber


Dreams big or small

with a business loan 1890 365 222 WARNING: The cost of your monthly repayments may increase. Level of security required and rate applicable, will be determined by the amount, purpose & term of facility, in conjunction with the nature and value of the security being offered. Lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. Over 18’s only. Maximum credit of ₏120k available for online applications. Bank of Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

Fingal Business Magazine - Issue 1 - June 2018  

Welcome to the very first issue of Fingal Business Magazine. We are thrilled to introduce our brand new high quality publication filled with...

Fingal Business Magazine - Issue 1 - June 2018  

Welcome to the very first issue of Fingal Business Magazine. We are thrilled to introduce our brand new high quality publication filled with...