Opinion Editorial

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Toasting a real success story

When serial entrepreneur and business academic Dr John Teeling first announced plans to establish a new Irish whiskey distillery on the site of a converted potato alcohol plant in Co Louth, most of us harboured serious doubts about the project's viability.

Twenty-four years later, with the announcement that American spirits firm Beam has agreed to pay €71m for Cooley Distillery, the teetotal Dr Teeling has had the last laugh.

Yesterday's deal was the fruit of almost a quarter of a century of hard work on the part of Dr Teeling and the Cooley staff. They created a thriving business from nothing but their imaginations and determination to succeed.

In a business dominated by giant multinationals Cooley was minnow which depended for its survival on the quality of its products and its people.

Cooley has had to endure some bitter disappointments and setbacks along the way. Perhaps its lowest ebb came in 1994 when the Competition Authority blocked a bid for Cooley by Irish Distillers. While many entrepreneurs might have been tempted to throw in the towel at that stage, Dr Teeling persevered until his efforts were finally rewarded yesterday.

Now that his decision to establish Cooley has been finally vindicated, don't expect Dr Teeling to rest for long on his laurels. While most of the rest of us prepare for Christmas, he is probably already planning his next venture.

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