Unbeknown to many the tool manufacturing industry in Ireland is experiencing phenomenal growth over the past decade or so. An industry largely confined to the larger industrial powers like Germany, Switzerland and the U.S. is now surpassed, in terms of quality, by Ireland. It must rank amongst the biggest success stories in Irish technological circles vis a vis how did an industry (in Ireland) make up so much ground in such a short period of time? Ireland now ranks amongst the best when it comes to toolmaking regarding the quality of its product and the speed at which it can be produced.
Athenry is now playing a role in this rapidly expanding and futuristic sector of industry. Just recently a new factory producing tooling has moved to a premises formerly Lohan’s furniture factory at Coshla, Athenry.
This company is called C&F Tooling and is jointly owned by Michael Carr and John Flaherty. Mike Carr is a native of Clarinbridge while John Flaherty is a born and bred Athenry man. John is a qualified toolmaker having served his 4 year apprenticeship at another well-known engineering establishment Byrne- Mech Ltd.
C&F was formed in 1988 and operated in Galway city. However increasing demand for their product has meant that a larger premises was required and looking around initially within Galway city the site at Coshla was brought to their attention.
The site was large enough to accommodate the expansion envisaged by John and Mike. More importantly it allowed C&F to channel finance in the direction of much needed equipment rather than paying huge sums for a site in Galway city. In such a competitive industry continual reinvestment in new equipment is essential if one wishes to be ahead of the posse.
According to John keeping ahead in terms of technology is what has made their company stand out: “We don’t wait to see what changes are going to occur in the industry elsewhere but rather we keep very close contact with our customers and suppliers alike”.
Some of the equipment on the factory floor is worth £l/4 million alone. John is presently acquiring another pressing machine from Italy worth £l/2 million. This will speed up the number of components which can be produced at the factory. The factory currently employs over 40 workers and John hopes that this figure will increase significantly by this time next year. All 40 are highly skilled and trained personnel. A measure of this skill is seen in the fact that one of C&F’s employees won the apprenticeship of the year award for toolmaking.
A very high standard is achieved in the workplace by an extremely committed and skilled workforce; a factor, which John Flaherty points out, is crucial to the success of the company. “Without this type of commitment from the lads the factory would simply not be able to function to the high standards demanded by its customers”. Each individual worker, and this includes management as well, has an important role to play.
Currently the factory produces tools (i.e. metal plates for making computer and automobile parts etc.) which it supplies to a whole host of other factories which press or make the finished product, known as the component. Previously many of these products had to be imported from Britain or the U.S. Until now C&F have just produced the tools for the customer. However they now are offering a complete service i.e. design and manufacturing of the tools and also producing the sheet metal components of the tool. They know that this is the road to take as their customers are insisting on a complete one stop shop service.
Margins are extremely tight and C&F continually reinvest any profits back into the company thus ensuring that it leads the way in technology and new machines. This trend will continue for some time. Presently, though, the company is on very sound footing and both John and Mike have a very carefully thought out strategy for future expansion and development. Careful planning and business sense will ensure that this company continues to grow thus adding greatly to the local economy. We wish John and his business partner, Mike, every success for the future in their new business operation.
Written by Dominic Monaghan
Published here 08 Feb 2021 and originally published November 1995
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