Unitach win Dragon’s top award

UNITACH machinery were the top award winners on a memorable occasion at the Uibh Fhaili chapter of Business Network International (BNI) Dragon’s competition held recently in the Tullamore Court Hotel.

UNITACH machinery were the top award winners on a memorable occasion at the Uibh Fhaili chapter of Business Network International (BNI) Dragon’s competition held recently in the Tullamore Court Hotel.

The evening kicked off with a business display by the 34 members of BNI Uibh Fhaili with stands displaying all types of business products and services such as car hands free kits for mobile phones, business printing and stationery, legal services, website development and advertising, video production to name but a few. As the evening progressed there was a steady flow of visitors increasing as the start time for the Dragons event approached.

The BNI Dragons event opened at 8pm with Pat McLoughlin from Flynn Brothers Joinery outlining the background of BNI or Business Network International.

Pat posed the question, ‘Do you want more Business?’ which was to be the theme for the evening and judging by the energy and professionalism of this event, it is not difficult to see that BNI is the place to be if you want more business.

Pat Introduced the Masters of Ceremonies for the event, John Mollin from Property Team Mollin Estates and Peter Lyons from Kenny Lyons & Associates Architects.

They got the show on the road with the introduction of the five judges or Dragons for the evening, Siobhan Swords from Walshe Kealey & Co Accountants, Kieran Mangan from Castle Barna Golf Club, Arlene Guinan from Brosna press print and design, Dermot Scanlon from JD Scanlon & Company Solicitors and Liam Hoctor from Hoctor refrigeration.

The prize at stake for the BNI Dragons competition was €14,000 in business products and services to be awarded to the winning new business startup idea or product, mentoring session from Offaly Enterprise Board and €1,000 free advertising from Midlands 103. The following is a summary of the six shortlisted entries and their presentations;

Graham Cannard from Fallstopers outlined how he has devised a fall risk assessment for older people which won a UK National Nursing Award. This risk assessment, known as FRASE, is now in use in hospitals and Nursing Homes across the UK and Ireland. He proposes to offer this service to older people in the community. His service would assess the older person’s risk of falling, assess their home environment during a home visit and provide advice on how to reduce the risk of falling. There is currently no such service available in Ireland. He also plans to offer a comprehensive training programme on FRASE to staff in Nursing Homes.

Paul Maher from Pet Burial Baskets explained that he is an experienced carpenter and how he has come up with the idea of making pet burial caskets in a variety of sizes and colours. The sizes range from very small to large, the smallest being suitable for a small bird, hamster etc. and the largest being suitable for a large dog.

Artist Allison Finegan began painting with acrylic on old slate in July 2011. She held a small exhibition in the Tullamore Show in August as a way of testing the waters. After great success on the day she decided to continue with her idea of producing paintings on slate.

Paul Cushen and Darren O’Gorman explained that Target Zero was a newly established business specializing in Sustainable Building Consulting and Training. They are an Approved Course Provider for Passive House Training in Ireland. By just advertising a course on Gumtree they had 40 inquiries and almost 400 hits in 2 weeks. They hope to deliver training courses from international accreditation Passive House Institute in Germany across the globe. They are now Irelands second Approved Course Providers and Exam Body by the Passive House Institute in Germany for the course ‘Certified Passive House Designer’ and soon to approved for ‘Certified Passive House Tradesman’.

Helen Monaghan from Luava Designs spoke with great passion and enthusiasm outlining how she adores working with her hands creating something new. Her bags are unique. They cannot be bought in any shop. She will create a bag to her clients taste in colour and occasion. (e.g. wedding, holiday, Christmas etc) She will compliment that bag with a matching scarf.

Eventual winners Thomas Hayden and Mark Clendennen from Unitach Machinery gave a very polished performance. They stated that Agriculture is a section of the economy that was neglected during the boom, but that is displaying robustness and potential to grow in the current economic climate.

They identified what they believe to be a gap in the market for high quality reasonably priced ATV attachments. Most units currently on the market appear to be either poor quality low budget options, or prohibitively expensive or both.

Thomas and Mark believe there is significant potential to develop the domestic and export markets. They have sourced the ‘off-the-shelf’ components required from suppliers that keep high levels of stock to minimize lead times. Their steel sections have been designed for laser cutting and CNC machining in a manner that allows for consistency of product and ease of assembly with a key focus on design for manufacture from the outset

ATVs are becoming ever more commonplace and as they do the market for attachments is growing. There is a near infinite amount of products that can be added to the ‘Unitach’ range. Their aim is to add a minimum of two new products to their range every year. They currently have four products; Weed wiper, spaced drop sheep snacker, trough filling sheep snacker and trailed sprayer.

Thomas and Mark had a sample of their product on stage in the form of a ‘spaced drop sheep snacker’. The presentation by Thomas and Mark was the final presentation and all were well received by the audience and the Dragons. The presentations were interspersed with interviews by Peter Lyons of some of the current members of BNI Uibh Fhaili including Ciaran Guinan from Brosna Press Print and design, Donal Molloy of Molloy Precast Products, Malachy Mangan from Aura DVD Productions, Dymphna Higgins from Walsh Kealey & Company and Norman Keenan from Precise Engineering Products.

Peter also spoke with Sandra Heart who is BNI regional director for Ireland South and West. Sandra spoke very highly of the Uibh Fhaili chapter and indicated that since it was set up three years ago that members have passed referred business to each other to the value of over €2.7m euro. Sandra explained the importance of word of mouth marketing to small and medium business and especially to start up businesses.

The Dragons retired for a short while to conduct their assessment of the competition entries and while they were out of the room John Mollin and Peter Lyons interviewed two special guests from the local business community Vincent Cleary from Glenisk and Stephen Grant from Grant Engineering.

Vincent Cleary spoke of spoke of the origins of the Glenisk brand and how it has grown to a company with a turnover in excess of €14,000,000. He recalled how his father started Tullamore Dairies at the tender age of 64 and his many Christmases spent milking goats by hand.

Stephen Grant outlined how he started out in life as a mechanic in Haines Garage, Birr, then as a Fitter in Erin Peats and of how progressed to small metal fabrication and plumbing while making boilers in the evening. Following purchase of a site in Crinkle in 1981, Grant Engineering has grown to capture almost 50% of the UK market in oil fired burners and over 50% of the Irish market.

BNI Uibh Fhaili meet every Thursday morning at 7am in the Central Hotel Tullamore and they are looking forward to new members joining the chapter including some of the competition business entries.