I spent a truly remarkable night last Wednesday with An Riocht chairing a meeting in Tralee IT on the Contribution that Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can make to Economic Growth and Job Creation. It was the Keynote Lecture of the An Riocht lecture series called “The Growth and Success of Engineering Business in Kerry.”
We had a panel of four SMEs from diverse areas of the local Kerry Economy. They all had one notable feature in common though - they all operate in current growth areas of the National Economy in terms of either indigenous enterprise or export led growth.
We were all welcomed by the Chairman of the An Riocht Region Nigel Kenny who introduced the Panel and then handed over to me as Chair. There was a truly excellent attendance on the night described by one of the locals as a typical crowd for a Regional Lecture.
First up was Joe Cahill of Altobridge who outlined the company's development from small beginnings in 2002 to develop the world's first commercial GSM service on passenger aircraft and deep sea merchant maritime vessels globally. They now operate mobile phone networks in the remotest parts of Africa Asia and South America in countries like Malaysia Indonesia and
. Altobridge have won international awards from the Wall Street Journal and the World Economic Forum. Their Chairman is former Tánaiste and local TD Dick Spring. Mongolia
Peadar O'Loughlin of OES Environmental has created a consultancy service for the local market specialising in the Energy Environment and Safety sectors. Set up in 1999 the company have build up strong Client partnership across a broad spectrum of organisations and businesses. Peadar also correctly emphasised the importance of communications in dealing with infrastructural projects. He and his partner Director Brona Tennyson work mostly in the energy sector in terms of wind and biomass and also do environmental impact assessments and monitoring. Their Chairman is local businessman Hugh Friel of the Kerry Group.
Thomas Fitzmaurice of TLI Group operate in another growth area - providing consultancy for the ESB since 2000 in overhauling and upgrading overhead power lines across the country. His contracts involve securing planning permission, design, construction, refurbishment and maintenance of renewable generators and windfarm network connections to the national grid. Thomas described his principal project offering which has given them a competitive advantage in winning work - 'attract business by perfecting a safe working environment'. In this way he has diversified into 6 sectoral areas to service a current demand in the Irish economy - TLI Power, TLI Wind, TLI Civils, TLI Water Metering, TLI Home Energy and TLI Technologies. TLI Group are now truly a multi utility infrastructural consultancy and construction company nationally.
Edmond Harty of Dairymaster is the longest established and is one of the world's leading dairy farm equipment manufacturers. In existence for some four decades, its core product is the 'computerised dairy parlour' which facilitates accurate data recording, collection and analysis. Dairymaster produces almost 95 per cent of its products internally - from rubber mouldings to computerised keypads! With Food Harvest 2020 Strategy requiring a 50 per cent increase in milk production to feed growing Asian markets I can see that Dairymaster is well prepared for indigenous as well as export growth. We saw photographs of circular milking parlours installed all over the world where the manure collection and storage/treatment is well isolated from the hygienic milk production area and is automatically controlled and recorded. The Diarymaster ClusterCleanse rinses each cluster after each cow is milked. This results in a more hygienic cluster for the next cow cutting down on the risk of infections and giving you a healthier herd and better milk. Ed called it 'turning your dry cows into cash cows'. I heard terms like 'Swiftflo Swing', 'Supershed' and even the use of a 'MooMonitor' which was depicted as 'a revolution in animal heat detection' ........ I will leave the rest to your imagination!
As I listened to the 4 Kerry based SMEs I felt that they needed a national stage on which to showcase their various expertises. So watch this space for a reappearance of the Kerry SMEs at a Dublin venue in the near future!
Every congratulations to Chairman Nigel Kenny, Committee Members Trevor Barrett and Michael Sheehy for all their hard work to stage the event and continued success to An Riocht Region in the years ahead.