After 30 years, farewell
Tributes have been paid to the chief of local manufacturing firm Avenue Mould Solutions and 2003 Business Person of the Year Felim McNeela on his retirement this Christmas.
Felim was one of six founding members of the plastic mould firm in 1988 and lead the company for the past thirty years. Known for his quiet style of leadership and passion for toolmaking skills the Enniscrone native steered the Avenue ship through several recessions, always believing in their world-class excellence. His belief paid off when Avenue won Best in Class at the biggest Industrial Plastic Awards in the UK and Ireland in 2001. The firm would go on to be finalists on 13 occasions since then.
Felim grew the number of staff from the original six to 60 employees today.
He met his fellow founders, Des Forde (Commercial Director), Paul Mulligan (Design Manager), Noel Gerrity (Production Manager), Joe Hunt, Billy Gaffney and the late Leo Rooney at Sligo Tool & Die in the '80's before they decided to set up Avenue.
Felim had a vision to grow the company into an international business - a dream finally realised when Avenue was snapped up by US multinational GW Plastics in July 2017. At the time, Felim said the Avenue team was drawn to the cultural fit between both companies and to the capital and resources the partnership will bring to Avenue.
Co-founders Des Forde and Paul Mulligan told The Sligo Champion that his greatest legacy was "the company he has left behind today."
"We started off from a low-tech region and today we are one of the top medical mould makers in the world," said Paul.
On his retirement, staff designed him an Avenue logo engraved with each name of the 135 employees, many of whom Felim either saved from emigration or attracted home.
A spokesperson for Sligo Chamber of Commerce described Felim as a "thorough gentleman, the quiet man of business in Finisklin and so passionate about Sligo."
"They are the best in the world and Felim gets that. He's very influential," they added. Avenue staff and management wish him every health and happiness in his retirement.