SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

Small Firms Association, 84-86 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 605 1500; Email: info@sfa.ie; Web: www.sfa.ie #SFAAwards2019

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SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS
SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS
Introduction from Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA director                     4

                                                                              Comment from the chair
Paul Healy, chief executive, Skillnet Ireland                            4

Michael Dawson, founder and CEO, One4All                                  5
                                                                              I am delighted to offer my
                                                                              congratulations to all the 2019
OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS                                                    finalists in the SFA National Small
Passion, drive and a keen focus on innovation                             6   Business Awards programme. Now
                                                                              in their fifteenth year, these awards
INSIGHTS                                                                      celebrate achievement, innovation and
                                                                              excellence amongst small firms. It is
Gillian Willis, small business manager, Bord Bia                          9
                                                                              these very qualities that are evident in
                                                                              the companies featured in this special
FOOD AND DRINK                                                                awards supplement.
Staying ahead of the curve with consumer trends                          10     All the companies presented here
                                                                              are amongst the best in Irish small
INSIGHTS                                                                      business. These companies, each of
Padraig Sheerin, head of SME at Three Ireland                            13   which employs fewer than 50 people,
                                                                              represent a wide range of business
                                                                              sectors, right throughout Ireland. From
SERVICES                                                                      reading their success stories you will
A relentless desire to put the customer first                            14   no doubt be inspired by their drive,
                                                                              constant innovation and commitment
INSIGHTS                                                                      to growth.
Patrick Farrell, retail banking director at Permanent TSB                17     The people involved here are truly
                                                                              representative of the diversity of
                                                                              entrepreneurship in Ireland, from new
INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR                                                         high-tech companies to established and
Identifying problems and unmet needs                                     18   traditional, family-run businesses. Given
                                                                              the right environment, these companies
INSIGHTS                                                                      will play a significant part in delivering   and services in the Awards Village at
Colin Bebbington, retail director at Bord Gáis Energy                    21   the additional 25,500 jobs that the          SFA Business Connect at the Aviva
                                                                              Small Firms Association expects              Stadium, which brought together over
MANUFACTURING                                                                 to be created by small businesses
                                                                              in 2019. These companies will also
                                                                                                                           350 companies at a networking event
                                                                                                                           between large and small businesses.
New product development at its best                                      22
                                                                              provide much encouragement to others          In conclusion, I would like to thank
                                                                              who are thinking about taking the            our sponsors and judges for their
INSIGHTS                                                                      entrepreneurial leap.                        continued support in making the
Andrea Carroll, SME programme manager, SEAI                              24     As we face into uncertainty and            entire awards programme possible.
                                                                              unknown challenges it is encouraging         Our sponsors are: Three, Bord Bia,
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY                                                            to see such innovation in our
                                                                              small businesses. Innovation will
                                                                                                                           Permanent TSB, One4All, Enterprise
                                                                                                                           Ireland, IE Domain Registry, Skillnet
Taking the environment into account                                      25
                                                                              be a key contributor to achieving            Ireland, the Sustainable Energy
                                                                              competitiveness post Brexit, when            Authority of Ireland, and Bord Gáis
INSIGHTS                                                                      potentially we will be competing on          Energy.
David Curtin, chief executive, IE Domain Registry                        27   a very different stage. It will be so         Our very hard-working judges include:
                                                                              important to harness the energy, agility     Mairead Cirillo of Environmental
EMERGING NEW BUSINESS                                                         and determination of the businesses          Business Advice; Paula Fitzsimons of
Five small businesses with great ideas                                   28   we read about in this supplement. They       Fitzsimons Consulting; Barry McCleary
                                                                              need to be supported by creating a           of Megazyme International; Donal
                                                                              business environment that values small       O’Donovan from the Irish Independent;
INSIGHTS                                                                      business, fosters entrepreneurship and       Brian O’Kane of Oaktree Press;
Fergus McMahon, department manager for exporter                               rewards risk takers.                         Professor Frank Roche, chairman of
development at Enterprise Ireland                                        30     The businesses profiled here have          Dublin Business Innovation Centre;
                                                                              availed of a fantastic programme to          Tara Lillywhite-Torpey, EY Ireland,
EXPORTER OF THE YEAR                                                          date as part of the SFA National Small       Geraldine Lavin, 3rd i and Ken
Going the extra mile internationally                                     31   Business Awards. As well as receiving        Germaine, Germaine Business Planning.
                                                                              extensive media and PR benefits               I wish all the finalist companies the
                                                                              from becoming a finalist, all of these       best of luck tonight at the Gala Final
                                                                              companies have availed of a subsidised       and in the future.
Editor: Sorcha Corcoran                                                       training package and a strategic
Design: Robert Armstrong, INM Design Studio, Belfast Telegraph House,         management masterclass weekend.              Sue O’Neill
Clarendon Dock, 33 Clarendon Road, Belfast, BT1 3BG                           They have all showcased their products       SFA chair
Published by Independent Newspapers Ltd, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1

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SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

The importance of small businesses to the Irish
economy continues to be reflected in the SFA
National Small Business Awards, writes Sven Spollen-
Behrens, director of the Small Firms Association

    reland is a nation of small businesses      final relationship between the EU and UK
    and small firms with fewer than 50          will look like.
    employees account for 98% of the              Despite ongoing uncertainty, two thirds
    total number of businesses in Ireland       of SFA member companies plan to take
employing one in every two private sector       on additional staff and we estimate that
workers. They are present in every village,     together small businesses will create
town and city in the country. We have           25,500 jobs in 2019. These jobs will be in a
seen this through the SFA National Small        wide variety of sectors, giving a boost to
Business Awards this year, with entrants        villages, towns and cities across Ireland.
from all over the country competing in
the awards and showing what a range of
diverse and interesting businesses can be       “Despite ongoing
found all across Ireland.
  2018 was a challenging but successful         uncertainty, two
year for small businesses. According
to the latest Small Business Sentiment
                                                thirds of SFA                                  Sven Spollen-Behrens, director of the Small Firms Association
Survey, difficulties attracting staff, Brexit
and increasing business costs are the
                                                member companies                                 Concrete steps are needed from              wide variety of backgrounds, sectors and
main obstacles affecting small firms            plan to take on                                government to realise the potential of our    parts of the country. They all demonstrate
in 2019. Our members see domestic                                                              small business sector and enhance job         that with a clear business vision, a
economic growth, which is forecasted            additional staff                               creation permanently. The SFA is calling      sense of optimism, passion, drive and
to be close to 4.1% in 2019, as the biggest
opportunity for their business in the           and we estimate                                for the introduction and implementation
                                                                                               of a national Small Business Strategy
                                                                                                                                             perseverance, success is possible.
                                                                                                                                               I want to congratulate all the finalists
coming year.
  However, small business owners’               that together small                            for Ireland. This initiative is calling on
                                                                                               government to target the development of
                                                                                                                                             today. Regardless of the outcome this
                                                                                                                                             evening, you are all winners and deserve
intention to invest in their businesses
declined over recent months. In the
                                                businesses will                                small business across all regions with just
                                                                                               as much energy and strategic focus as it
                                                                                                                                             every success; the quality and standard of
                                                                                                                                             all finalists is really second to none.
run-up to Brexit it is to be expected
that small firms will be more cautious
                                                create 25,500 jobs                             has put on attracting FDI from the 1950s
                                                                                               to the present day.                           To find out who the winners are and to
regarding investment decisions until            in 2019”                                         The finalists in this year’s SFA National   view highlights from the Gala Final, log on
there is more certainty about what the                                                         Small Business Awards come from a             to www.sfa.ie/awards.

Paul Healy, chief executive of Skillnet Ireland,                                                                                             “Training or on-
highlights the vital need for small businesses to focus                                                                                      the-job learning is
on training and development in the face of rapid                                                                                             vital for smaller
technological change                                                                                                                         businesses
                                                                                                                                             in readying
         reating a culture of up-skilling       dedicated to the promotion and
         and lifelong learning is an
         important part of the solution
                                                facilitation of workforce learning in
                                                Ireland. We believe that maintaining a
                                                                                                                                             themselves for
         to stagnating productivity
within small firms. Responsible for 70%
                                                highly skilled workforce is essential to our
                                                national competitiveness. Our business is
                                                                                                                                             the changes and
of all employment, small businesses             to ensure that your business has the skills                                                  having the ability
are the backbone of the Irish economy,          it needs to thrive.
and management development and                    The most important aspect of Skillnet                                                      to embrace new
up-skilling are key to helping them to
remain competitive.
                                                Ireland is that it is a bottom-up, industry-
                                                led programme. The 17,000 companies                                                          technologies”
  Some core competencies and skills             nationwide that we support are taking
every business should have include              control of the skills agenda themselves.                                                     membership base and distilling those
strategic planning and efficient                They are deciding on the challenges and                                                      into a compelling skills offering.
operational management – both of which          opportunities they face and using Skillnet                                                     The main message we want to give to
are critical in terms of enabling digital       Ireland funding to allow them to embrace       Paul Healy, chief executive, Skillnet         owners of small firms is to engage with
transformation. Technological disruption        these fully through the training and           Ireland                                       their Skillnet. This will give them the
is happening at a pace never seen before        up-skilling of their employees.                                                              opportunity to shape the skills agenda
in areas such as automation and artificial        Through our 65-plus Skillnet Learning        the first-ever dedicated SFA Skillnet in      and avail of subsidised training for their
intelligence. Training or on-the-job            Networks, Skillnet Ireland allocates           the first quarter of this year. Under the     staff – which at the end of the day are the
learning is vital for smaller businesses        funding to groups of companies in the          leadership of SFA director Sven Spollen-      most important asset of any business.
in readying themselves for the changes          same industry sector (or region) and with      Behrens, the SFA is making the skills
and having the ability to embrace new           similar training needs, so they can deliver    and talent agenda a priority through          More details about the work of
technologies.                                   subsidised training for their teams.           this initiative. Together, we are currently   Skillnet Ireland can be found at www.
  Skillnet Ireland is a national agency           We are delighted to be establishing          gathering requirements from the SFA           skillnetireland.ie.

4   | SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                                                                                                                     WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS
SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

              One4All will soon be launching a groundbreaking new digital product which represents the
                                next step in the evolution of staff gifting and rewards

          ue on the market in April, the       grown from 10 to over 70. One4All’s
          new One4all Digital Gift Card        branch selling outlets have increased
          will allow businesses and            from 1,000 to over 13,500 and accepting
          individuals to buy, customise,       retail outlets from a few hundred to over
send and spend a One4all Gift Card, all        50,000.
from their mobile phone. A new One4all           “We have continually updated our
Payment app on iOS and Android will            product and product offering to meet
mean customers can spend their digital         the changing needs of the market,
gift card directly from their phone via        introducing, for example, card
contactless terminals in store or online.      personalisation for individual customers
  The digital card offers all the              and card customisation [such as branded
functionality of a physical One4all Gift       gift cards] for businesses,” says Dawson.
Card with the added benefits of instant          “As online shopping became more
delivery, complete end-to-end security         and more important to our customers,
and full card and message customisation.       we brought our card online, allowing
  “For the first time, businesses will         customers the choice of whether to
be able to reward five to 5,000 staff          spend their gift cards in store or online
members in an instant with a digital gift      with hundreds of different brands. Now,
card they can spend in over 8,500 stores       with mobile wallets, instant gifting and
nationwide,” says Michael Dawson,              contactless payments becoming the norm
founder and CEO of One4All.                    in daily life, the One4all Digital Gift Card
  “The technology behind this product is       is being introduced to provide an instant,
the first of its kind in the world, offering   convenient and exciting way to buy,
market-leading functionality that has been     customise, send and spend your One4all
built from the ground up by One4all with       Gift Card.”
B2B gifting in mind. Whether a business
wishes to provide an annual ‘thank you’        Meeting expectations
to its staff or regular bonuses throughout     Dawson has seen a lot of changes in
the year, the digital gift card provides the   relation to gift cards generally since
ultimate flexibility to suit their needs.”     he first started the business. As the
                                               popularity of gift cards has grown, so has
Adapting to change                             the spotlight on and level of expectation
One4All started as The Gift Voucher Shop       from gift card providers.
in 2002, from which the One4all brand            “When we started The Gift Voucher
(and paper multi-store voucher) quickly        Shop, it was a novel and innovative
grew. When Dawson started the business,        concept to go to your local Post Office
he developed a strategic distribution          to get a gift voucher for many different
partnership with An Post. The company’s        stores. That became a single voucher for
core offering, that of “convenient gifting     many stores, then a plastic gift card [with
and reward”, has maintained throughout         improved acceptance levels in retailers],”
its history.                                   he explains. “We’re very proud to have led
  The company has expanded                     the charge on what a gift card can and
geographically to Malta and the UK and         should offer the gifter and recipient, and
product-wise from paper vouchers to            we continue to do so in 2019 with this
plastic gift cards in 2006 and now to          new digital product.”
digital gifting. Employee numbers have           One4All’s growth and development

                                                                                              Michael Dawson, founder and CEO, One4All

                                                                                              has happened in the context of a rapidly    wallet-based contactless payments
                                                                                              evolving payments industry landscape.       driving transaction volumes through
                                                                                              “Only two decades ago as consumers we       convenience at retail outlets and
                                                                                              were just falling in love with ATMs. Cash   simplified online shopping checkouts.
                                                                                              remained king up to the noughties when      This development will continue to drive
                                                                                              card-based payments began to eat into       more commerce online and mobile.
                                                                                              cash payments,” Dawson notes.               Hence One4All is aiming to be a leader
                                                                                                “Today we are finally witnessing, after   in this space for the gift and reward
                                                                                              a few false dawns, the emergence of         industry.”

                                                                                              “The technology behind this product is
                                                                                              the first of its kind in the world, offering
                                                                                              market-leading functionality that has been
                                                                                              built from the ground up by One4all with
One4All’s new digital gift card                                                               B2B gifting in mind”
WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS                                                                                                                SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS            |5
SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

                                                                                         Automate to accumulate
                                                                                         From its base in Thurles, Co Tipperary, Horan
                                                                                         Automation and Consulting is at the cutting edge of
                                                                                         the latest developments in global manufacturing

                                                                                                  oran Automation and Consulting       solutions for our customers to solve
                                                                                                  specialises in industrial            their problems,” explains commercial
                                                                                                  automation, including the            director Emma Lacy. “This can be in the
                                                                                                  design, machine construction,        form of automated machines and often
                                                                                         PLC (programmable logic controller) and       includes robots. Our machines solve
                                                                                         machine integration and maintenance of        issues with health and safety, such as
                                                                                         automation systems.                           heavy lifting or repetitive stress injury.
                                                                                           With a staff of six and over 20 years’      Often our customers either cannot get
                                                                                         experience in robotics and factory            staff, for example in the meat industry, or
                                                                                         industrial automation, the company            they cannot meet speed and accuracy of
                                                                                         has expertise in the food, healthcare,        demand and need to automate.”
David Byrne, business development manager and Professor Gerry Byrne,                     pharmaceutical and manufacturing                Describing itself as “a one-stop shop
CEO of GB Innovation                                                                     industries in Ireland. Further to tripling    for automation”, Horan Automation and
                                                                                         sales since 2016, it expects to recruit ten   Consulting designs and specifies its

Ready for research
                                                                                         new staff this year.                          machines in Ireland and uses an original
                                                                                           Using its in-depth knowledge of             equipment manufacturer in China to
                                                                                         industrial automation systems, robotic        build them. “This is to our specification
                                                                                         arms and manufacturing, Horan                 using our parts such as Kuka robots so
                                                                                         Automation and Consulting aims to             our machines are top quality. We can
                                                                                         increase clients’ production and improve      provide bespoke solutions that are CE
The bespoke platform launched by GB Innovation                                           their manufacturing efficiency. It has        marked to EU quality standards,” says
last November reduces the cost and uncertainty                                           designed automation systems and
                                                                                         installed customised automation systems
                                                                                                                                       Lacy. “This means we can pass a saving of
                                                                                                                                       about 20% on to our customers compared
of research, development and innovation activities                                       for many of the top manufacturing
                                                                                         companies in Ireland, including
                                                                                                                                       to our competition in Europe.”
                                                                                                                                         Despite the ongoing issue of Brexit,
for companies                                                                            Glaxosmythkline, Boston Scientific,           Horan Automation and Consulting is

                                                                                         Abbott, Serosep, Glanbia, Stryker and         looking at overseas expansion. “That
        ounded by Professor Gerry Byrne      that captures all activities and projects   Saint Gobain.                                 is proving a big challenge for us, more
        in 2014, GB Innovation has created   and puts them on a single platform to         “We build bespoke automation                indirectly as it is affecting our customers.
        ReaDI-Watch, a software platform     digitise, manage and partially automate                                                   Our lead time from consultation to order
        that brings all of the elements
involved in the research, development
                                             the RD&I process,” explains Byrne.
                                             “We have developed clear metrics for
                                                                                         “Often our                                    can be as long as two years, which in itself
                                                                                                                                       proves challenging. Brexit is elongating
and innovation (RD&I) value stream
together in one place.
                                             companies to guide them along the
                                             research and innovation journey. This
                                                                                         customers either                              an already challenging timeline,” notes
  A former dean of engineering in            allows them to achieve excellence in        cannot get staff, for                           Horan Automation and Consulting
University College Dublin, Byrne started     research and development, enhance their                                                   recently embarked on its export journey
the company to address the gaps he           competitiveness and grow in value.”         example in the meat                           with the support of Enterprise Ireland.
identified in this space.
  “Senior managers tasked with steering
                                               The six people currently employed by
                                             GB Innovation all have a wealth of RD&I     industry, or they                             It has already met potential clients in
                                                                                                                                       the UK, Poland, the Czech Republic and
research and development projects
quickly find they lack clear metrics,
                                             expertise and commercial acumen.
                                             Byrne plans to double the team within
                                                                                         cannot meet speed                             Saudi Arabia. Lacy is optimistic about
                                                                                                                                       where this will lead: “We really pride
outputs or key performance indicators,”
he explains. “This is because research
                                             14 months. He also wants the company
                                             to become an Enterprise Ireland client
                                                                                         and accuracy of                               ourselves on our customer service and
                                                                                                                                       quality focus throughout the business.
projects are inherently different to         this year to facilitate an international    demand and need to                            We are punching well above our weight
regular projects and are difficult to        presence and export sales in the near                                                     with our customer profile for a small
manage. The support schemes available        future.                                     automate”                                     company.”
for RD&I in Ireland and abroad are             “As the company grows and takes on
diverse, yet in practice are not easy to     both new personnel and clients, the
avail of. Companies struggle to derive       platform will evolve to facilitate this
benefit from the research and innovation     growth. ReaDI-Watch is the first of its
network and ecosystem.”                      kind in the area of RD&I and, as such,
  Byrne spent ten years in industry          will require continuous development
working on research and innovation           to explore the full potential of its
projects. His role as expert on the Irish    applicability,” adds Byrne.
Revenue Panel for R&D Tax Credits
and on the Research, Development and
Innovation Board of Enterprise Ireland       “ReaDI-Watch is a
gave the GB Innovation team a unique
insight into the complexities of RD&I.
                                             complete solution that
  GB Innovation started out by providing     captures all activities
a service to companies to support them
in the management of their research and
                                             and projects and
innovation processes. Having grown both      puts them on a single
in terms of client base and resources,       platform to digitise,
the company launched ReaDI-Watch last
November. It is a simple to use, cloud-      manage and partially
based, cost-effective platform and service   automate the RD&I
to meet all of a company’s RD&I needs.                                                   Gerry Horan, managing director and Emma Lacy, commercial director, Horan
  “ReaDI-Watch is a complete solution        process”                                    Automation and Consulting

                                www.gbinnovation.ie                                                                           www.horan.ie

6   | SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                                                                                                               WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS
SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

Clever coating
Based in Co Wexford, NP Liquid Glass Systems
is a family-run business specialising in providing
long-lasting and environmentally-friendly
solutions for surface protection

                                                                                             David O’ Connor, head of aftersales, Kia Motors Ireland and Brian Conroy, managing
                                                                                             director, Pop Up Races (centre) with Irish Olympians Mick Clohisey and Kerry O’ Flaherty

                                                                                             A winning formula
                                                                                             Pop Up Races is focussed on ensuring race organisers
                                                                                             are guaranteed an accurate and efficient racing
                                                                                             environment, while also providing an accurate time
                                                                                             for every participant

Rachel and John Murphy, co-founders, NP Liquid Glass Systems

                                                                                                      articipation in world-class events     Enterprise Office, they undertook a Lean
         achel Murphy and her father           are unique in the sense that they are                  such as the London Marathon,           for Micro initiative and introduced Lean
         John were looking for a solution      all based on liquid glass and, unlike                  the Berlin Marathon and Ironman        standards across the organisation.
         for damp issues in an old stone       traditional products, all of our coatings              Austria has given the team at Pop        “A key area for improvement was how
         cottage, but needed a coating that    are completely environmentally-friendly       Up Races a keen appreciation of what            we manage our customers’ data. As a
wouldn’t affect the colour and remained        and toxin-free, making them child, pet        their end customers truly want.                 result of this process we’ve implemented
fully breathable.                              and food safe,” she explains.                   Founded by brothers Brian and David           a bespoke customer relationship
  They researched a number of options            “We can coat virtually any surface to       Conroy, Pop Up Races offers a range of          management [CRM] solution to alleviate
and learned about nano coatings, then          prevent damp, staining and algae growth.      tiered services to help race organisers         manual processing and to protect our
found a supplier in Germany. “I left my        We also have a unique offering in terms of    promote and event manage their races.           customers’ personal data,” Brian explains.
job in the financial sector to set up the      our coatings for fabrics, rugs and carpets,   This includes management of online              “We also wanted to ensure that our staff
business in 2014 and thankfully have           which prevent staining without changing       entry, chip timing and providing                have instant access to the information
never looked back,” says Rachel. “It was a     the colour or texture of the materials.”      experiential extras.                            they need at any given time so customers’
risk bringing a brand new product to the         NP Liquid Glass Systems plans to              “We ensure that everyone counts               needs are always met.”
market but we are going from strength          launch its retail options later this year,    – every race organiser and every                  Pop Up Races’ long-term strategy is to
to strength and have worked on some            which will include a bathroom kit for         participant, making it ‘Your race from          expand into the UK and Europe within
fantastic projects with brilliant customers    the protection of tiles and grout from        start to finish’,” explains managing            five years. “Our plan for 2019 was to
in the past few years.”                        staining. This is a completely eco-friendly   director Brian, who is a chartered              aggressively target the UK market, but
  This has included working with Henry         option that is easy to apply in the home.     accountant. “Our target market is               this has been put on hold with Brexit.
J Lyons on the Royal College of Surgeons         This year will also see it looking to       business race organisers, charities, clubs      Over the next 12 months, we are focussed
Ireland and Central Bank of Ireland            expand the business. “At the moment it’s      and event companies.”                           on continuing to deliver for our existing
projects, as well as counting the Office       just the two of us – my father and I. We        In 2018 Pop up Races hosted over 160          customers,” says Brian.
of Public Works, Powerscourt Hotel,            plan to grow our team in 2019/2020 and        events, with over 100,000 participants,           “Recent investment allows us to now
Ceadogán Rugs and Matt Britton Carpets         ideally would like to expand our services     resulting in around €1.5m being raised          cater for up to four events daily. With this
among its clients.                             in the UK in the coming months.”              for local businesses and charities. It          increased capacity we are working on
  Having introduced the products for                                                         currently has a staff of 14, which includes     creating partnerships in new, previously
stone and brick to the Irish market,                                                         four office staff and 10 operations staff,      unexplored markets, including canoeing,
Rachel and her father found there was
also a demand for protection of other
                                               “We now provide                               who look after events on a part-time basis.
                                                                                               “Our team are predominately runners.
                                                                                                                                             equestrian and open water swimming.”

surfaces.                                      a full service of                             When it comes to the live timing of             “We ensure that
  “We now provide a full service of                                                          races, everyone is focussed on ensuring
surface protection options, from fabrics       surface protection                            we exceed the expectations of the race          everyone counts
and carpets to anti-graffiti and anti-algae
coatings for stone and brick. The variety      options, from                                 director as well as the individual athletes,”
                                                                                             says Brian. “We may be a small company,         – every race
of our work means we are working on
different projects every day and with
                                               fabrics and carpets                           but we’re making a big impact.”
                                                                                               In the past few months, the brothers          organiser and every
different clients all year round,” she says.
  The flexibility and range of NP Liquid
                                               to anti-graffiti and                          decided to completely revisit the
                                                                                             company’s business model to ensure it is
                                                                                                                                             participant, making
Glass Systems’ products and offerings          anti-algae coatings                           as efficient as possible, while consistently    it ‘Your race from
give the company a competitive edge,                                                         improving on service. Working with
according to Rachel. “Our coatings             for stone and brick”                          Jigsaw Consulting and Kildare Local             start to finish’”
                                 www.npliquidglass.ie                                                                          www.popupraces.ie

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SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

Fitting right in
With 40 years’ experience supplying the heating/
plumbing, DIY and hardware markets with
bathroom accessories, SME Sales is always on the
lookout for new and trending products to solve
everyday problems

                                                                                               Claire and Willie McMahon, co-founders, Trefoil Controls

                                                                                               Instrumental influence
                                                                                               Trefoil Controls’ paperless calibration management
                                                                                               process is helping it to stand out from the crowd and
                                                                                               will drive continued growth in 2019

                                                                                                             illie McMahon set up Trefoil     For example, in 2015 Trefoil Controls
                                                                                                             Controls with his wife Claire    began supplying instrumentation and
                                                                                                             in 2015 after amassing over      reference calibration equipment to
                                                                                                             20 years’ experience in          Alvotech, a biopharmaceutical company
Michael Sweeney, director, SME Sales                                                           calibration services across sectors such       in Reykjavik, Iceland. More recently,

                                                                                               as food and dairy, manufacturing and           Bio-Marine Ingredients Ireland engaged
         he Sta-Tite Toilet Seats introduced   use it, but it future-proofs our business for   pharmaceuticals.                               Trefoil Controls as its calibration
         by SME Sales in the past two          expansion for many years to come,” says           “Primarily we focus on delivering            management provider for the building
         years solve one of the main issues    Sweeney.                                        specific calibration management                of a state-of-the-art €12m research and
         in the bathroom area of the             SME Sales currently has a staff of            solutions to clients, especially SMEs          development facility in Co Monaghan.
house. “This is a new patented system          five, some of whom have been with the           not catered for by the large calibration         “Sales have grown year on year and
that ensures when the toilet seats are         company for 15 years now. “With the             providers,” he explains. “Our size allows      we have a very strong, loyal relationship
fitted they don’t come loose on the pan,       nature of a small business, it is important     us to offer flexible, bespoke solutions. All   with successive managers on sites.
which makes this a simple solution to an       that your staff have a ‘can-do’ attitude.       of our clients have access to a dedicated      Our collaboration with similar-sized
age-old problem,” says director of SME         Customer service remains the focus of           customer portal for the safe, secure           calibration houses in Ireland has allowed
Sales Michael Sweeney, whose parents           our business and we strive to resolve           storage of all documentation.                  us to scale up in terms of engineering
set up the business in 1979.                   issues as soon as they may arise. We act as       “We have a growing client base in            resources for projects where clients
  “We are also offering a solution to          distributors and agents for the suppliers       Ireland and abroad for instrumentation         would have a maintenance shutdown for
another huge problem, which is fitting         we deal with,” says Sweeney.                    product sales. The supply of                   a few days,” says McMahon.
bathroom accessories onto porcelain              “Generally we offer next-day delivery         instrumentation specific to the clients’
tiles that are extremely hard to drill. We     so our customers can keep stock levels          needs and the calibration service we offer     “Our size allows us to
are introducing a self-adhesive range of       to a minimum, which helps with cash             complement each other and support our          offer flexible, bespoke
accessories that can be fitted in less than    flow. This has been critical over the past      clients’ operations.”
a minute with no drill required.”              10 years. Credit control is crucial for a         McMahon believes that his company’s          solutions. All of our clients
  Operating out of a purpose-built             small business. We ensure our customers         presentation of calibration records is         have access to a dedicated
warehouse in Collooney, Co Sligo since         operate within their terms and review           its unique selling point. Each time it         customer portal for the
2005, SME Sales also owns a similar sized      this on an ongoing basis.”                      conducts a calibration, the results are
warehouse next door. “We don’t currently         Over the past few years SME Sales has         entered electronically into the calibration    safe, secure storage of all
                                               invested heavily in its marketing strategy.     software package. The certificate is           documentation”
                                               It has introduced an online store as            created and then placed onto the secure
“Customer service                              well as the ‘Mercedes Sprinter Mobile           online dedicated customer portal.                Trefoil Controls’ engineering team is
                                               Bathroom Showroom’. This customised             Authorised client representatives can          made up of two and a further two staff
remains the focus                              service allows customers to view and            then view the calibration results as they      look after administration. “Due to the
of our business and                            have products demonstrated at their
                                               own location. “It has been a tremendous
                                                                                               wish from their phone or PC.
                                                                                                 Also stored on the customer portal are
                                                                                                                                              growth and expansion of our business, we
                                                                                                                                              are in the process of employing two more
we strive to resolve                           success,” says Sweeney.                         all the quality, health and safety, and        engineers for our team. There are some
                                                 SME Sales is hoping to grow its external      procedural documents that are required         very interesting instrumentation projects
issues as soon as they                         sales team in the short term, with a            to back up the contracts the company has       coming in 2019,” says McMahon.
may arise. We act as                           view to having each province covered by         with its clients. In McMahon’s view, this        “Our client base is growing across
                                               individual sales reps. “This would help         paperless solution combined with the           all business sectors within Ireland.
distributors and agents                        increase our market share and drive sales       way staff actively manage and schedule         Equally, existing clients are scheduling
for the suppliers we                           growth. We are constantly on the lookout
                                               for new and innovative products and
                                                                                               the calibrations give Trefoil Controls a
                                                                                               reputation of quality in the market.
                                                                                                                                              process improvements, which will create
                                                                                                                                              requirements for both instrumentation
deal with”                                     also new agencies to expand our product           This reputation has translated into          sales and calibrations during the coming
                                               portfolio,” notes Sweeney.                      increased sales both at home and abroad.       year.”

                                   www.smesales.ie                                                                             www.trefoilcontrols.ie

8   | SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                                                                                                                     WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS
SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

     At the end of 2018, Bord Bia launched its Small Business commercial marketing strategy 2019 - 2021,
             which is giving it a clearer view on how to support the growth of small food businesses

          n important aspect of Bord          and new stallholders. “The farmers’
          Bia’s new strategy is that it       market channel is an important route to
          segments small business into        market for both start-up food businesses
          artisan, established, start-ups     and established producers. It provides a
and in-growth companies, and highlights       source of direct consumer feedback as
the need to provide tailored supports for     well as a revenue stream,” notes Willis.
each.                                           The Bloom Food Market also provides
  “Small food and drink businesses            an excellent opportunity for small food
are important contributors to the             and drink companies to build their brand
sustainability and future prosperity of the   among consumers and to meet with
Irish economy. They underpin the wider        buyers at a trade breakfast. Over 65 food
local community and the image of Ireland      companies participate in the Food Market
as a provider of high quality, innovative     at the annual Bord Bia event.
and sustainable food excellence,” says          Every year a number of organic
Gillian Willis, small business manager,       companies attend BioFach, the world’s
Bord Bia.                                     leading organic trade fair. This show
  “In Bord Bia we define the small            provides organic companies the
business sector as businesses with an         opportunity to showcase their products
annual turnover of less than €3.5m.           and meet with prospective buyers in the
Estimated to be worth between                 industry. Nine Irish companies took part
€300m-€450m in Ireland, it is a diverse       this year in February.
sector encompassing meat, craft beer,           Regarding financial supports, the Bord
dairy, prepared consumer foods, and           Bia Marketing Assistance Programme
seafood.”                                     (MAP) is open to companies with a
                                              turnover greater than €100,000 and          Gillian Willis, small business manager, Bord Bia (right) with Minister of State for Food,
Specific support programmes                   less than €3.5m in the year prior to        Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle TD and Margaret Hoctor of Kilmullen Farm
Bord Bia runs various programmes to
support small businesses, which are
designed to be closely aligned with their
needs going forward.
                                                                                                                                            Consumer trends
  Foodworks, run by Bord Bia, Enterprise                                                                                                    Small businesses operate in the same
Ireland and Teagasc, is an accelerator                                                                                                      space as all other food and drink
programme helping to develop the next                                                                                                       businesses so they need to be aware
generation of scale-able and export-                                                                                                        of consumer trends. Bord Bia’s 2018
driven Irish food businesses. The                                                                                                           Consumer Lifestyle Trends study
programme gives companies the unique                                                                                                        examines the trends that are shaping
opportunity to work with the three                                                                                                          people’s lives which in turn affects their
agencies to gain a greater understanding                                                                                                    choices as consumers.
of their consumers, their market viability                                                                                                    “The major global trends include a
and the technical support needed to                                                                                                         shift towards sustainable living with
develop their product.                                                                                                                      consumers becoming more focused on
  Bord Bia partners with a number of                                                                                                        waste and the environment. They expect
Irish supermarket chains on their retailer                                                                                                  environmentally-friendly alternatives
programmes Grow with Aldi, KickStart                                                                                                        with increased pressure being placed
(Lidl) and Food Academy (SuperValu).                                                                                                        on brands to operate ethically and
These programmes give small food and                                                                                                        transparently,” says Gillian Willis, small
drink businesses the opportunity to sell                                                                                                    business manager, Bord Bia.
their products on supermarket shelves as                                                                                                      “We are also witnessing growing
well as receive training and mentorship                                                                                                     connectivity impacting consumers’
along the way.                                                                                                                              choices. As consumers are now ‘living
  This month Bord Bia is launching its                                                                                                      in the cloud’ more and more, there is a
third series of farmers’ market skills        Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy with companies participating in the Food Works                     trend towards fluid eating and drinking
training, designed to support established     programme at last year’s Marketplace International in the RDS                                 resulting in the blurring of mealtimes.”
                                                                                                                                              The health and wellness trend is also
                                                                                          application. Companies can apply for              evolving with a growing awareness of the
                                                                                          funding across a wide range of marketing          individual components of foods and their
“Small food and drink businesses                                                          activities such as attendance at trade            potential benefits. The study also found
are important contributors to the                                                         fairs, market visits, packaging design and
                                                                                          in-store tastings.
                                                                                                                                            an increasing desire for age-targeted
                                                                                                                                            solutions for consumers.
sustainability and future prosperity of the                                                 Bord Bia introduced the Step Change
                                                                                          Programme (SCP) in 2015 as an additional
                                                                                                                                              “These trends should be taken into
                                                                                                                                            consideration by small businesses when
Irish economy. They underpin the wider                                                    fund to support companies with turnover
                                                                                          greater than €100,000 and less than
                                                                                                                                            working on new product development,”
                                                                                                                                            says Willis.
local community and the image of Ireland                                                  €10m in the year prior to application.
                                                                                            Finally, small businesses have the
                                                                                                                                              Irish food and drinks businesses can
                                                                                                                                            learn more about these global trends by
as a provider of high quality, innovative                                                 opportunity to receive regular industry           contacting Bord Bia’s consumer insights
                                                                                          updates from Bord Bia in the form of Food         team at info@bordbia.ie. Full details of
and sustainable food excellence”                                                          Alerts as well as retail and foodservice          the study can be found at
                                                                                          monthly updates.                                  www.bordbiaconsumerlifestyletrends.ie

WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS                                                                                                             SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                     |9
SFA 2019 - National Small Business Awards - SPONSORS

                                                                                            No stone unturned
                                                                                            A passion for food and the ability to spot new trends
                                                                                            have meant growth and success for specialist artisan ice
                                                                                            cream brand Arctic Stone in the space of two years

                                                                                                         hile travelling around South       “We tailor-make our menu for every
                                                                                                         East Asia after finishing        client so they receive a bespoke culinary
                                                                                                         college, Caolan Cullen came      experience.”
                                                                                                         across street food vendors         Examples of this have included ice
                                                                                            using a technique to make ice cream that      cream made with a shot of Jameson
                                                                                            he had never seen before. Calling it ‘hand-   and ginger and a squeeze of lime and a
                                                                                            rolled ice cream’, he has perfected the       signature blend made from papaya and
                                                                                            technique and turned it into a thriving       mango for a tropical-themed event run by
                                                                                            business, which is now one of the best        Lidl. One of the reasons a lot of corporate
                                                                                            known ice cream brands in Ireland.            clients like to go with Arctic Stone is
                                                                                              Each serving of Arctic Stone’s ice cream    its plastic-free ethos. All of the pots and
                                                                                            is tailor-made from scratch in front          spoons it uses are 100% compostable.
Members of the team at Airport View Hotel with owners Gerry Butterly and Annie Beggs        of the customer in about 60 seconds.            Arctic Stone has also featured at several
(far right)                                                                                 Cullen has worked with chefs to develop       festivals, including Electric Picnic and
                                                                                            recipes, including one of the world’s only    The Big Grill BBQ & Craft Beer Festival.

Room with a view
                                                                                            vegan blends. Arctic Stone can cater          “We were the only ice cream vendors
                                                                                            for anybody’s dietary requirements,           at The Big Grill and had queues of 80
                                                                                            including nut allergies and palm-oil          people,” notes Cullen. “Last summer, we
                                                                                            intolerance.                                  were operating from five locations a day
                                                                                              Cullen started off with a food stall in     and employing 18-20 staff during peak
                                                                                            Blackrock Market in Dublin in May 2016;       times.” The business currently employs
A hands-on approach and dedication to quality and                                           then opened a shop in Blackrock with          nine people. “Not everyone can do this
                                                                                            another one due to open in Bray, Co           job as it is quite strenuous and labour
local produce are behind the popularity of the food                                         Wicklow in April.                             intensive and everything is hand-made
                                                                                              One of the key drivers of Arctic Stone’s    fresh to order,” notes Cullen.
and drink offering at Airport View Hotel                                                    rising popularity has been its foray into       Having qualified with a degree in social

                                                                                            private catering for corporate events.        science from University College Dublin,
         he beef served at the Airport        is the Ardbeg Galileo, so called because      “We work with some of Ireland’s biggest       Cullen has always been keen to give back
         View Hotel’s Winters Restaurant      small quantities of this whiskey were sent    companies such as Google, Facebook,           to the local community. To date, Arctic
         in Skerries, Co Dublin is 35-day     into space.                                   and Amazon, which want something              Stone has helped to raised €42,000 for
         old and dry cured in Himalayan         Last year the whiskey room was              different for their private events. This      LauraLynn Children’s Hospice. “My end
Sea Salt – something which owner              enhanced with a gin selection of 150          is an important driver for our business       goal is to empower disadvantaged people,
Gerry Butterly believes is unique for a       different bottles. “We get small parties      off-season in November, December and          bring them into the business and involve
restaurant in the Republic of Ireland.        that want to do group whiskey tastings        January,” explains Cullen.                    them with the brand,” says Cullen.
  Sourcing fresh fish and seafood locally     and lots of Americans and Germans
in Skerries and Balbriggan, Airport
View Hotel is also famous for its sizzling
                                              who are interested in trying different
                                              whiskeys,” says Beggs. “They can pick a       “We work with some of Ireland’s
prawns and spring rolls, which have been
handmade on-site for the past 19 years.
                                              whiskey or gin and enjoy it in front of the
                                              fire in a nice lounge or go to our outdoor    biggest companies such as Google,
  Butterly was originally a tomato grower
and farmer and he and his wife Annie
                                              log cabin and smoke cigars.”
                                                Despite making a massive investment to
                                                                                            Facebook and Amazon, which want
Beggs were involved in the nightclub and
cocktail bar scene in the area. In 2000,
                                              expand the business right in the middle
                                              of the economic downturn, Airport View
                                                                                            something different for their private
they went about building a 10-bedroom         Hotel has consistently attracted both local   events”
hotel in an empty field. This has since       and tourist business.
grown to a 30,000 sq ft premises                “We have grown through word of mouth
incorporating ten additional bedrooms, a      and because of our efforts with our
90-seater restaurant and a spa.               website and social media,” notes Butterly.
  The couple designed everything              “We recently made a video to promote the
themselves, right down to the curtains        business which received 58,000 hits in
and colours on the walls. Initially, they     seven days. The spa brings a lot of people
did all the cooking, but now employ three     here and once they’re here they stay
chefs and 12 other staff. Food is served      because we have it all.”
from 7am to 9.30pm Monday to Friday
and from 8.30am to 9.30pm on Saturday
and 8.30am to 7pm on Sunday.
  “We retain our staff because we work
                                              “Our food
directly with them on a daily basis. I have
been doing breakfasts for the past 19
                                              philosophy has
years,” says Butterly. “Our food philosophy   always been to have
has always been to have the highest
standard ingredients sourced from local       the highest standard
suppliers and farmers.”
  In response to increased tourism in         ingredients sourced
Ireland, Airport View Hotel opened a
whiskey room in 2017, which stocks
                                              from local suppliers
300 different whiskeys, including the
full range from Midleton, Jameson and
                                              and farmers”
Teeling. One of its most unusual offerings                                                  Caolan Cullen, founder and owner, Arctic Stone

                              www.airportviewhotel.ie                                                                        www.arcticstone.ie

10   | SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                                                                                                                 WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS

Tortilla triumph
Building on its success making authentic Mexican
corn tortillas at its facility in Clonmel, Co Tipperary,
Blanco Niňo plans to launch a new range of
premium tortilla chips in supermarkets

    t was the pursuit of taco perfection             nixtamalisation, a traditional Mexican
    that sent Blanco Niňo founder and                technique going back thousands of years.
    CEO Philip Martin on a road trip                 It makes us completely unique in the
    across Mexico, where he discovered               European market.”
the ancient Aztec recipe that gives corn               Blanco Niño is a member of Origin
tortillas their unique flavour.                      Green, Ireland’s food and drink
  Visiting the milpas, molinos and                   sustainability programme run by
tortillerias of Mexico, Martin learnt how            Bord Bia. “We undergo independent
to make proper corn tortillas like the ones accreditation and verification by
found in the street markets of Oaxaca and international auditors to meet the
Mexico City.                                         high standards required. This covers           Willie Parker, owner-manager of Fenit Fruit & Veg
  Returning to Ireland in 2014,                         everything from how we source our

                                                                                                    Cut to the chase
he launched what ended                                      raw materials to our manufacturing
up being Ireland’s most                                        and how we treat our employees,”
successful crowdfunding                     Blan                 says Martin. “This focus on
                                      N in         c o
campaign at the time. He         shor o is also                   sustainability definitely gives
then brought together a         Manu    t l i ste                  us competitive advantage.”
                                      factu d in the
team and found a home
for the Blanco Niño              Expo
                                                       a n
                                                                     The next step for Blanco
                                                                   Niňo  is a plan to bring real    Fenit Fruit & Veg has tapped into the scarcity of
                                Year ter of th d
tortilleria in Conmel, Co
Tipperary. The company
                                                       e           corn tortillas chips into
                                                                  European homes. To this end
                                                                                                    commi chefs and the time pressures of chefs by
now has a staff of 14
and is working with chefs
                                                                Martin returned to Mexico to
                                                              find unique ingredients, flavours
                                                                                                    filling a gap for them with freshly prepared fruit and
and restaurateurs across 13                               and aromas.                               vegetables just the way they want them

European countries.                                    “We are working closely with small-
  Blanco Niňo’s production process at its            scale Mexican farmers who use                          ifteen years ago, Willie Parker        come in up to midnight on any given day
14,000 sq ft facility opened in 2016 is what         sustainable, traditional practices,                    decided to diversify part of his       and staff start work at 5.30am to ensure
makes it different, according to Martin.             vertically integrating our supply chain                potato growing and farming             prompt and fresh delivery.
“We make our tortillas and chips using               from producer to retailer. The flavours                business near Tralee, Co Kerry          “With some orders we can plan in
non-genetically modified white and blue              are truly innovative and unique and            to provide prepared and non-prepared           advance, for example conferences or
sustainably grown corn, water, salt and              the packaging will be a new paper-style        fruit and vegetables to the foodservice        weddings. One of our orders recently
lime,” he explains.                                  design with a window allowing customers        industry.                                      was for 1,100 potato fondants to cater for
  “The corn is cooked, then steeped                  to see the quality and beauty of the chips.      This new business line evolved to            two weddings. A lot of our output is pre-
over 16 hours before grinding it into                This format reflects and communicates          become Fenit Fruit & Veg. It has grown         ordered, but we also cater for restaurants
a dough using hand-carved volcanic                   the premium position to the consumer.”         to such an extent that Parker gave up          which might ring in looking for standard
stone grinders. This process is called                 Blanco Niňo has ambitious plans to           farming and contracted out the potato          products,” explains Parker.
                                                     be the Mexican food brand that defines         supply to a neighbour 12 months ago.
                                                     the premium category on supermarket            Fenit Fruit & Veg’s customer base is made
                                                     shelves, adds Martin. “Starting with           up of 150 hotels in counties Kerry, Cork
                                                     tortilla chips we aim to disrupt the           and Limerick, as well as restaurants and       “We have developed
                                                     market with products that offer a truer
                                                     representation of Mexican food and
                                                                                                    even butcher shops.
                                                                                                      “We have developed a reputation for          a reputation for
                                                     culture. We hope to launch our chips
                                                     this summer following a crowdfunding
                                                                                                    working with chefs to develop bespoke,
                                                                                                    hand-cut products tailored to their
                                                                                                                                                   working with
                                                     campaign.”                                     specific requirements. In effect we are
                                                                                                    their commis chefs, using our expertise
                                                                                                                                                   chefs to develop
                                                                                                    which saves time and money, reduces            bespoke, hand-cut
                                                  “We are working                                   waste and allows chefs to focus on the
                                                                                                    creative side of things,” explains Parker.     products tailored
                                                  closely with small-                               “Each chef could be making the same
                                                                                                    dish but will have their own input into it     to their specific
                                                  scale Mexican                                     using different ingredients. That is where     requirements”
                                                                                                    we come in.”
                                                  farmers who                                         Fenit Fruit & Veg currently offers
                                                  use sustainable,                                  close to 300 different cuts for fruit and
                                                                                                    vegetables, mostly made with hand                Fenit Fruit & Veg is currently
                                                  traditional                                       guillotines. It also contracted an engineer
                                                                                                    to design and make specialist equipment
                                                                                                                                                   embarking on its expansion into retail.
                                                                                                                                                   Already selling a 1kg bag of peeled
                                                  practices, vertically                             for the company, which employs 30
                                                                                                    people. The 7,000 sq ft facility Fenit Fruit
                                                                                                                                                   potatoes in SuperValus in Co Kerry, it
                                                                                                                                                   plans to launch bags of freshly cut chips
                                                  integrating our                                   & Veg operates from is soon to expand to       on a wider scale in the coming months.
                                                                                                    10,000 sq ft to facilitate expansion.          “We want to get onto Bord Bia’s Food
                                                  supply chain from                                   The types of cuts available include          Academy in association with SuperValu,

Philip Martin, CEO, Blanco Nino                   producer to retailer”                             heart-shaped cuts for Valentine’s Day and
                                                                                                    shamrocks for St Patrick’s Day. Orders
                                                                                                                                                   try to supply West Munster in 2020 and
                                                                                                                                                   work from there,” says Parker.

                                  www.blanco-nino.com                                                                                   www.fenitveg.ie

WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS                                                                                                                      SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                | 11

                                                                                            Natural progression
                                                                                            Building on the success of its scientifically formulated
                                                                                            super supplements, Revive Active has extended its
                                                                                            product range and taken manufacturing in-house

                                                                                                n February, Minister for Business         by 50 or so retailers in the UK, as well as
                                                                                                Enterprise and Innovation                 being sold online to customers in about
                                                                                                Heather Humphreys TD officially           42 different countries. O’Connor thinks
                                                                                                opened Revive Active’s 10,000 sq ft       Brexit may be an opportunity for the
                                                                                            manufacturing facility in Mullingar, Co       company. “We plan to do an enormous
                                                                                            Westmeath where the company is making         push digitally in the UK. We will continue
                                                                                            all of its products.                          to keep a contract manufacturer in Wales,
                                                                                              It is the latest development in a busy      because if there is a hard border this will
                                                                                            12 months for the maker of scientifically     mean we’re still able to supply the UK on
                                                                                            developed life enhancing supplements,         a standalone basis from there.”
                                                                                            which was founded in 2010 by Daithí             Last November, O’Connor went to
                                                                                            O’Connor. Currently employing 35              Los Angeles in the US with his head of
                                                                                            people, he plans to take on a further 11 in   production Colm Horton to look into
                                                                                            the near future.                              production facilities there.
                                                                                              “In 2018 we looked at our brand to            “We are now doing a feasibility study
Siobhán Lawless, owner, The Foods of Athenry                                                see what we were missing. Using an            on the US, with a view to launching Zest
                                                                                            ingredient called Wellmune from Kerry         Active there in the summer. Having

Fully baked
                                                                                            Group, we brought out Junior Revive and       a manufacturing base there would
                                                                                            Teen Revive, which are focused on bone        mean we could guarantee supply and
                                                                                            development, cognitive function and           circumvent the need for FDA approval,”
                                                                                            protection,” he explains. These products      says O’Connor. “The vitamin, mineral
                                                                                            come in flavourless sachets so can be         and dietary supplement market is set to
                                                                                            added to a child’s favourite drink or         be worth about US$30bn in the US, so
Specialising in supplying ‘free from’ baked goods                                           cereal.                                       there is a really big opportunity for quality
with a long shelf life was a strategic decision that has                                      The original Revive Active range was
                                                                                            designed for people over 35. “We had kids

paid dividends for The Foods of Athenry                                                     and older people covered, so the next
                                                                                                                                          “The vitamin,

                                                                                            step was to cater specifically for people
              hat started out as a sideline   competition in the form of new small          in their twenties and up to 35. We wanted
              in a converted bike shed        home bakeries. I saw the future as being      to provide a natural alternative to sugar     mineral and dietary
              to supplement dairy farm
              income in 1999 has turned
                                              in ‘free from’. So, we decided to become
                                              specialists in this area.”
                                                                                            and caffeine.” Director of research and
                                                                                            development Daniel Jones got on the case      supplement market
into a thriving gluten-free and ‘free-from’
bakery business employing 26 people
                                                The Foods of Athenry gluten-free, dairy-
                                              free and/or vegan range is now made
                                                                                            and the result was Zest Active, which was
                                                                                            launched in February this year. “Our first
                                                                                                                                          is set to be worth
in rural Galway for Paul and Siobhán
                                              up of 30 different individual products,
                                              including mince pies, cookies, crackers,
                                                                                            batch sold out,” says O’Connor.
                                                                                              In terms of product promotion, Roz
                                                                                                                                          about US$30bn in
  Describing herself as “an accidental        cereals and bars; as well as the very         Purcell has been an advocate of Revive        the US, so there
entrepreneur”, Siobhán began by baking        popular Cookie Shots resealable bags -        Active for five years and recently became
bread, cakes, scones and tarts for local      resealable packs of tiny biscuits geared      a full-time ambassador, endorsing the         is a really big
shops and restaurants. By 2004 it became
clear the bakery had the potential to
                                              towards people who watch what they eat.
                                              Each one is only 18 calories. Four extra
                                                                                            range to her 255,000 Instagram followers.
                                                                                            Irish rugby player James Ryan is also an      opportunity for
make more money than the farm and
the couple went about phasing out the
                                              flavours were added to the range last year
                                              – orange, raspberry, cinnamon and chilli
                                                                                              Revive Active products are stocked in
                                                                                                                                          quality products”
milking.                                      brownie.                                      about 1,000 outlets across Ireland and
  The Foods of Athenry grew organically         “We are continually innovating, and
from 2004 until 2010 supplying clean-         have some new exciting products on
label, wheat-baked products throughout        the cards for 2019. With huge growth in
Connacht. When the recession hit,             the number of people choosing to eat a
Siobhán felt introducing a premium,           plant-based diet, we are well placed to
great tasting gluten-free range would be a    support that dietary choice,” says Siobhán.
way to address it.                            “Having added extra space to our bakery
  Having already converted the milking        in 2017 we are ready to grow our exports,
parlour, Paul extended the operation          and with the challenges of Brexit, we are
into the cow house. Siobhán worked on         spreading our wings, and have just signed
developing products, deciding the best        a deal to bring our products to New
approach was to focus on those with a         Zealand.”
naturally extended shelf life – hence
easier to export.
  It was a sensible move as the company
now sells into 12 countries outside of
                                              “With huge growth
Ireland and exports made up 30% of            in the number of
its turnover last year. In the domestic
market, it has listings nationwide in all     people choosing to
the multiples as well as speciality stores
and through foodservice outlets.              eat a plant-based
  A fire at the premises in 2011 forced the
couple to close down for nine months,
                                              diet, we are well
and when they were ready to trade
again the landscape had completely
                                              placed to support
changed, says Siobhán. “There was more        that dietary choice”                          Daithí O’Connor, founder and managinge director, Revive Active

                               www.foodsofathenry.ie                                                                       www.reviveactive.com

12   | SFA NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS                                                                                                                 WWW.SFA.IE/AWARDS
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