Business Irish

Friday 17 January 2020

Masterclass from CRH on how to tackle a downturn

AS the year draws to a close, so too does Myles Lee's 30th anniversary at CRH.

People rarely stay in jobs that long any more, but for chief executive Lee the time has seen dramatic change at what is now our biggest indigenous business.

Ireland has just a clutch of such firms – ones that make a global mark. And that it can be done must surely still be heartening to those with designs on taking their business to the world.

And there's also a valuable lesson in tackling downturns. CRH set its sights on expansion to the US in the late 1970s and worked at it in the following years as our economy hit the skids.

The company had been warned by consultants that it would be chewed up and spat out by rivals if it tried to set up a foothold in the US.

Things were tough, says Lee, for both CRH and Ireland in the 1980s, but the overseas development strategy helped propel CRH to being one of the biggest companies of its type in the world.

Sure, like many successes, luck always plays a part. But that old nugget about how the more you practise, the luckier you get could ring true for many Irish firms.

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