Tuesday, 2 February 2021
Fáisc Miotal Éirinn Teoranta – Trading as Irish Pressings is a company based in the heart of the Gaeltacht region of Donegal. They are market leaders in their field of designing and manufacturing press tools and parts primarily to the automotive industry. Today, we speak to Karen Campbell, Sales and Logistics Manager, and Ben McGonagle, Business Analyst, from Irish Pressings to learn more about the company, the challenges and opportunities of Covid-19, doing business in the Gaeltacht and their plans for the future.
The business was founded by brothers Declan and Brendan Ward in 2005 who, after years spent developing and honing their skills, knowledge and expertise in the automotive industry, decided to seize the opportunity and return to their native Gaoth Dobhair. The brothers knew that they could be successful and competitive despite, as Karen said “a lot of feedback from the automotive industry telling them that setting up an automotive company in rural North-West Donegal was an absolutely crazy idea, they believed in the capabilities, the skills and the talents that lie in the local area”.
Karen explains that the focus recently has been on “developing the Irish Pressings name, building the team of people that we have here and winning new business”. The business since 2005 has grown from 3 employees to 76 staff on site winning important contracts with international car manufacturers. “We are covering BMW, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Opel, Volkswagen, and Audi. You could be in Barcelona or Munich or Milan and if you see one of those cars, parts of it have come from Gaoth Dobhair” explains Karen.
Irish Pressings have carved out a niche for themselves within the automotive industry through innovative designs and service. A key element of the service Irish Pressings provides their customers is a partnership experience and as Karen points out “From the very outset, we get actively involved with the customer on the project. We run simulations and trials on customer parts and we can propose amendments to the part.”
Over the years, Irish Pressings has showcased its adaptability and flexibility. Ben explains how they have adapted their business operations as a result of the pandemic and learn how to overcome these challenges. “The ability to have virtual meetings at any time and show our customers the tools and parts they commissioned directly from the factory floor gave us the confidence that we were progressing with the work and they could see the quality standard”. “We see a time of economic uncertainty as a period of great opportunity” says Ben, an optimistic and refreshing attitude that has stood them in good stead in recent years.
The strong ties with the community strongly influenced their decision to establish the business in Gaoth Dobhair. Karen believes that there are no barriers to setting up in rural Donegal saying “if you are committed and focused and bring in good people who are willing to learn, they will drive the business forward”. The beauty of the surrounding scenery has had a significant impact on their customers and Karen explains “people come here on a business trip and it’s unbelievable how bowled over they are by the locality. We believe that local people can achieve their goals and ambitions while staying close to home and to date 12 of our staff have successfully completed apprenticeships.
Irish Pressings are on an exciting and innovative journey of growth, and have proven time and time again that despite being rural you can still conduct business in a clear and simple manner. Ben believes that the connectivity that they have on the business estate and the support from Údarás na Gaeltachta has been second to none and has been crucial to their growth, particularly in 2020. “Údarás recognises what a company like Irish Pressings can bring to the area. In 2020, it was calculated that Irish Pressings brought €25 million into the local economy and we hope to increase our staff to 120 over the next 3 years as well as establishing a second premises on the business estate in Gaoth Dobhair . We’ve been very lucky to be able to bring the company to where it is today, with a committed, talented and ambitious team based in the locality”.