Business Irish

Tuesday 12 December 2017

There's no business like snow business

Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

A SNOW plough manufacturer from the Midlands is among a small group of Irish businesses which have turned a profit due to the freak weather conditions of recent years.

Romaquip, the Birr, Co Offaly-based snow plough and salt spreader manufacturer, which has contracts for snow treatment all over Ireland Britain and parts of Europe, has discovered that there's no business like snow business.

Now it is to expand its factory by 40pc, increasing its Irish workforce from 50 employees to 140 within three years.

Three years of research has produced the group's latest products, a range of intelligent satellite-directed salt spreaders, which alter the amount and spread of salt being dropped on a snow-covered road in accordance with air temperature and satellite location. Their new high-tech plant also includes a revolutionary system, which uses brine to prevent freshly dropped salt from being blown off the road by passing trucks and traffic.

Steel

The company also manufactures a range of stainless steel snow ploughs, which it sells to local authorities and maintenance organisations all over Ireland and Britain.

Joint managing director John McKeown said: "Times have been tough but our investment into extensive high-end R&D is now starting to pay off. About 85pc of our business usually goes abroad. It's only in the last two years that Ireland has had some really significant amounts of snowfall."

Another company cashing in on freak weather is Floodgate Ireland, a flood protection equipment company based in Limerick, which is to announce plans to start manufacturing German-branded flood barrier equipment at its base in Ballysimon before the end of the summer.

The company, headed by Noel Phelan, has increased its business by 50pc over the last two years due to the devastating spates of flooding the country has experienced, the last one causing tens of millions of euro in damage last October.

In a reversal of more usual industrial norms, Floodgate has just received approval to manufacture large commercial-sized flood barriers in Limerick under licence from Germany with a view to supplying Ireland.

Costs

"The decision to manufacture here will actually help reduce my costs by 10pc as well as dramatically cutting my lead-in times," Mr Phelan added.

The company has supplied many large complexes with flood protection equipment including UCC and Dundrum Town Centre, which featured in news clips during last October's floods.

Floodgate Ireland's business is also increasing on the back of hiked flood excesses from insurance companies -- many of which will not pay for the first €5,000 of flood damage in repeatedly hit locations.

Insurers are now insisting that large commercial complexes carry a stock of flood protection barriers if they are risk.

Following two years of testing his prototype in the worst gales the West of Ireland can offer, Galway-based entrepreneur Allen Garrard is launching his line of geodesic domes at next month's Bloom festival.

The space-age greenhouses are designed to allow users to weather-proof garden spaces.

His company Polytunnels Ireland has already supplied two schools with lightweight but durable greenhouse-style domes and has even taken an order from Tibetan monks based in Dublin's Rathfarnham.

Mr Garrard believes that the transparent domes will allow Irish homeowners and schools to enjoy rainproof garden access at a reasonable cost.

Irish Independent

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