independent

Saturday 23 August 2014

The south-east's quality kitchens

Elaine Furlong

Published 09/07/2013 | 05:30

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Sean and Tommy Hayden

FROM VERY modest beginnings the Hayden brothers have grown Cedarwood Kitchens and Furniture into the largest such private enterprise in the south east.

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The brothers had prior experience in carpentry and kitchen fitting at an early stage with their father Michael Hayden Sr, who repaired and made furniture and later made kitchens through his shops in New Ross and Enniscorthy.

Having gained knowledge from the previous generation, the time came to remove, make and refit a new family kitchen. Cedarwood has come a long way since then.

Mark developed his trade further and with the additional skills and trades brought on by Tommy and soon after Sean the business began to grow. A short time later the business acumen of Eamonn, who is an accountant, joined them. They knew at an early stage that, with all the skills and knowledge that each brought, the potential was there to grow the business into a successful venture.

And that is now the case. Cedarwood Kitchens and Furniture is now a household name throughout the county and beyond and now services commercial, trade and retail markets both here and abroad.

Four years after establishing the business through hard work, the brothers' endeavors suffered a huge setback. A fire burnt down their Camross premises, gutting the building and destroying their stock.

It was at this time they pooled 'every shilling' they had and acquired a premises in New Ross in John V. Kelly's old store on Sugarhouse Lane. This period of growth and expansion led to the hiring of much-needed staff – many of them were school leavers who were trained up by the brothers.

Since then Cedarwood has developed in different areas, from bespoke kitchen and furniture manufacturing to architectural-driven commercial projects for many companies who are household corporate names. Now Cedarwood employs people who are specialised in their fields to meet all those needs, said Seán.

It wasn't long before the premises in Sugarhouse Lane – in the heart of New Ross – became too small for their operation. Not only were they hindered by space but they also encountered difficulties in relation to traffic congestion on the narrow one-way street.

In 2002 they started building their factory in Camross and moved in 2003, closing the operation in Sugarhouse Lane. Soon after they opened a showroom in the Woodbine Business Park.

Business grew and they continued to expand further, resulting in the opening of a new showroom in Enniscorthy – where their father had previously operated a furniture store – in 2009.

Business has really progressed since those early days and continues to see growth even now. As with many family businesses, word of mouth and good referrals can play a major factor in growth and repeat business. This is continuously true for Cedarwood.

In what is a testament to their work, Sean explains that if Cedarwood fitted a mother's kitchen years ago, they are now designing and crafting her son's or daughter's kitchen now.

In the beginning Cedarwood focused on the manufacture of kitchens and bedrooms. They worked with smaller building contractors and were contracted for the fit-out of small housing estates. This progression lead to bigger building projects during the boom years and their kitchens can be seen in numerous housing developments across the Model County and far beyond.

Cedarwood's craftsmanship can be seen in the Central Bank, Google, Facebook, PayPal, and Louis Copeland in Dundrum, Trinity College, UCD and UCC, as well as numerous pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and schools nationwide.

At the height of the boom years Cedarwood employed 65 people and were producing a staggering 80 fitted kitchens and 120 bedrooms every week.

Despite the recession, the Haydens say they are as busy as ever. The brothers admit that they are running a 'tighter ship' now and that has ensured the business, unlike so many others in their field, has continued to trade and growth successfully.

They attribute their success to diversifying their product range and not indulging on a spending spree during the booming Celtic Tiger years. Combined with modest outgoings and overheads when the recession hit and having all machinery, vehicles and premises bought and paid for, Cedarwood was not too badly affected, as is the case with many similar businesses in this industry.

In the wake of the boom years Tommy has noticed that people's expectations for quality and value has increased. It is felt consumers are more confident about buying now and are prepared to spend more for quality and service.

Cedarwood now wholesale their products to businesses throughout Ireland and supply furniture to 90 different furniture shops across the country. Their newly developed sliding wardrobe range, of which they manufacture 250 doors a month, is exported to England and also stocked in furniture stores throughout Ireland.

Of all th products manufactured in their Camross facility the most popular range is their selection of bedroom furniture. However, their oak and painted kitchens are the business's mainstay.

'We have a lot of new products coming out and there is a lot of work out there for us,' said Tommy.

The future looks positive for Cedarwood, which in recent months hasve launched two new bedroom product ranges, is expanding its sliding wardrobe market, continuing to expand its kitchen ranges and commercial projects for Government, national and multinational business and in recent times has taken on more skilled employees to facilitate these challenges.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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