Bord Gáis Energy is the proud sponsor of SFA Business Bytes, a series of free seminars for SMEs to upskill and gain access to valuable expert business advice. The sponsorship is part of Bord Gáis Energy’s ongoing commitment to supporting the SME sector.At a recent seminar on energy efficiencies for business, we spoke to a SME operating in the energy sector, with a focus on building service maintenance. Willie Kearney, director of Thermodial, gave us the benefit of his wisdom having grown a specialist business in a challenging economic environment.
“Innovation is a key component of any long-term successful business strategy.”
Founded in 1987 by directors Willie Kearney and Tom Morrissey, Thermodial delivers expert engineering services in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) maintenance. Striving to exceed customer expectations, the company provides a 24/7 service, 365 days a year.
Willie believes that the secret to success for any business is constant innovation.
He explains, “Innovation is a key component of any long-term successful business strategy and we strive to remain consistently ahead of the curve. As part of this strategy, Thermodial has a dedicated in-house innovation team that is tasked with generating ideas to constantly move the company forward, demonstrating best practice in the sector.”
The most valuable business lesson Willie has learned centres on customer service, and he is a strong advocate for its importance in business.
“The Thermodial mantra is ’engineers customers trust’ and everything we do stems from this ethos. We provide a reliable service through trustworthy and skilled engineers and it is this high standard of service that has won us loyalty from our customers,” he says.
KEY CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2013
Having been in business for almost 26 years, Willie identifies a number of growth areas for the year ahead.
“We are looking at our customers’ energy use, identifying where it is wasted and displaying savings shown. We see this as very much adding value to our customers’ businesses and it is a significant growth area for us at a time when our customers are looking to make savings and keep costs as tight as possible,” he says.
SME BUSINESS CLIMATE
There are a number of issues facing small businesses as a result of the recessionary climate, according to Willie.
“If a customer decides not to pay for a service which has been provided, the cost and time involved in debt recovery is very cumbersome and can be unfair to legitimate businesses trying to keep afloat,” he says.
He also identifies e-tenders as a challenging area for competition and proposes that there should be a pre-qualification process and proper verification of stated materials. In Willie’s view, the lowest price does not always guarantee the best value.
ENERGISING THE SME SECTOR
Willie believes that training support would be of help to SMEs seeking to stay ahead of the competition and reinvigorate business.
He says, “Reduced fees for courses, or free training services complete with professional mentoring for all aspects of business would be a welcome support from government. For example, better education would help SMEs operate on a global scale by enabling them to grow their business to the best standards possible.”
BUSINESS BYTES SEMINARS
Willie presented a brief overview of Thermodial at a recent SFA Business Bytes seminar on ‘Energy Savings and Management in Business’, which was supported by Bord Gáis Energy.