Monday 18 February 2019

Jersey residents Ray (72) and Des O'Rourke, the co-founders of global engineering and construction giant Laing O'Rourke, have been in business for 40 years, building up an empire that today employs over 11,000 people and currently has about €10bn of work under way.

Majority shareholder Ray, who flies a Beechcraft 200B plane, said that the business was on track to make a profit of about €78m last year, though it was in long refinancing talks for the UK and Australian side of the business.

The Leitrim-born brothers' firm also has operations in Canada and the Middle East, while in Britain it works on hospitals, major infrastructure projects including airport terminals at Manchester and Heathrow, sewer and rail tunnels, and rail and tube stations in the English capital. Several children of Ray and Des work in the business, while some of the hundreds of millions the firm has made in profits over the years is believed to have been invested in property here and in the UK and stocks and shares.

Ray, who is an advocate of apprenticeships, ongoing education, women in business, and automation in the construction sector, maintains that he is not in any sense driven by money, calling it 'a disease, if you look at it like that', but by the pursuit of engineering excellence.

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