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26 years ago, Seamus was our fourth employee – or the first if you exclude our three founders. He took to our company like a duck to water… only don’t mention water: he’s not a fan. As Quality Manager he ensures that every product entering and leaving the factory is first rate… and that’s why our products are renowned worldwide for their reliability and quality. He also introduced us to ISO9001, a Quality Management accreditation that we proudly cherish. One of the strangest jobs he has performed is setting fire to products to see how they react, although with his aversion to water we’re still not sure how he put them out.
It’s a long way from selling rosary beads in a church yard at 15, but Clodagh now finds herself working in sales of a different kind. For us. She looks after our customers and internet sales. After several years working on the factory floor, becoming a team leader and pursuing a secretarial course, she moved to marketing when the opportunity arose. A self-confessed snoop when it comes to what people are saying online about our products, she admits to working at peak performance after three mugs of morning coffee. And that’s before she leaves the house.
So here’s proof that Ireland’s fine education system works: after working off and on at the company from the age of 17, Rachel decided to pursue a postgraduate diploma in International Sales through Enterprise Ireland. The after-effects have completely changed the way we approach sales in North America. And very much for the better as our customer numbers have increased by some 500%. Oh, and she introduced Portasol and Iolite to Amazon, with outstanding results. That’s the kind of fresh thinking we like.
When, after five years at Oglesby & Butler, we suggested to Kathleen that a two year Supervisory & Management diploma might be up her street, she jumped at the chance. That was in 2005. As a result of her endeavours she now finds herself in our Sales department where she processes our (many) orders and deals very effectively with customer queries. When not immersed in her work, Kathleen races fancy pigeons… or fancies racing pigeons… we’re not sure which (and, quite frankly, it’s none of our business).
It’s a tough world when your job sees you paying a visit to the Playboy Mansion… but someone has to do it! Ciaran manfully rose to the challenge, but with products as funky as Iolite and WISPR there are going to be some very ‘interesting opportunities’. Ciaran looks after our distribution, sales and marketing worldwide for these two products and he points to setting up distributors worldwide as one of the highlights of his career. And there we were thinking it was listening to Hugh Hefner’s words of wisdom.
Peter has worked in electronics most of his life. He set up our company in 1984, because he saw an opportunity to transform the soldering iron market. When you can make something that’s lighter and more powerful, for less money, then that’s the kind of innovation customers like. And switching from battery power to gas power was genius. Peter worked for Braun and GEC in a previous life, and all that experience and brilliance helped to inspire the remarkable Iolite. He sees it as one of his greatest achievements. When not steering the company through the choppy waters of our economy, he sails on the choppy waters of our ocean where he excels in his role as professional ballast.
John has worked in Finance for many, many years… so long ago in fact that he took his CMA by correspondence course. But when you learn on the job, for over thirty years, and work for companies like Braun, Beechams and Jacobs, that’s the most vital experience of all. He joined us in 2008, when he was attracted by the opportunity to join a sound, core business… his words, not ours. He has introduced new financial control systems to keep the company in shape and up to date, and his attention to detail is reflected in his hobby of buying battered old boats, doing them up and selling them on. He’s probably got a boat in New Ross marina at this very moment.
For Gerry, there’s nothing quite like getting the job done. And after 23 years with the company, he’s had plenty of time to perfect the process. He started as a stores assistant at the age of 17, and he now works with a team of five sourcing and supplying materials and managing distribution of finished product. His cause was helped when he went back to college 10 years ago to take a Diploma in Supply Chain Management… by night… over three years. Hard work? Not really – he picked potatoes as a youngster and everything since then has been a doddle by comparison… like hedging forward on metal prices and saving us a cool quarter million.
From digging tunnels seven metres underground in the sweltering Australian heat, Patrick finally came up for air and joined our company in 2001. With his Mechanical Engineering (Hons) degree from the University of Ulster, he now manages the processing, logistics and co-ordination of every order that we receive. Simply put, he makes sure that customers get what they want, when they want it. Achieving monthly targets motivates him, and this is no mean feat when you realise that Iolite sales rose 600% in the last couple of years. Things are continuing to heat up, here in Carlow, but we won¹t be sending him down any more holes.
There aren’t many companies that can boast the services of a man who created the first magnet to be used by CERN (think Large Hadron Collider), or built control gear for submarines. But Michael is a man who loves to know how things work and get under the skin of any challenge that comes his way. If you want something mechanical – which would include every one of our products – he’s the man who’ll put it together, take it apart, try different components and improve it. He’s been working with us since the 1980s and has been involved in every product we’ve ever made… which explains why our products are such high quality and have such a great reputation.
When John first joined us in 1994, he was attracted by the sheer breadth of what we do and by the hunger that comes from qualifying with a Mechanical Engineering degree. He has since taken a higher degree in Production Engineering, is currently taking a mechanically-focussed Master’s degree and will take a PhD next year. Which is why he’s progressed from process engineer to Senior Design Engineer… that, and we know he’s brilliant. When he’s not enjoying the constant challenges of the job and studying like mad, he remains optimistic that Laois GAA will win the football… well, it’s important to have dreams, however misguided they might be.