Former soldier Paul Hayles on his new business selling Irish produce in Bulgaria
It's a big jump from serving with the Irish Army to running a food distribution company in Bulgaria, but for Paul Hayles, all the obstacles were cleared last week when his first consignment of Dawn Meat barbecue beef skewers arrived in Sofia.
The former UN peacekeeper, who worked as an electrician with the Air Corps and Army, rushed the meat to the main Bulgarian supermarket chains in time for weekend summer barbecues.
There were plenty of hazards to negotiate for the 44-year-old Tallaght man, who had to organise a refrigeration plant in Bulgaria, arrange supply systems of Irish meat products and most critically set up his own distribution system from this country to Bulgaria's supermarket shelves.
So what made him want to set up a meat importation company in Sofia?
Paul had decided to remain in the Balkans with his Bulgarian-born wife Mirela when his Army career was completed seven years ago, and two years ago he decided to branch out from his electrician background and set up his own business.
"There was a glaring gap in the market for good-quality Irish beef and lamb products so we registered our trademarks and went for it," he tells Farming Independent.