Beating the recession by going it alone

FIFTEEN people showed that the recession wouldn’t beat them this week, as they graduated from the Business Development Programme run by OLDC and FAS.

FIFTEEN people showed that the recession wouldn’t beat them this week, as they graduated from the Business Development Programme run by OLDC and FAS.

At a presentation at OLDC (Offaly Local Development Company) in Millennium House in Tullamore, innovative entrepreneurs showcased their new businesses from consulting engineering and mobile hair dressing to flower arranging and jewellery making.

Michael Larkin from Athlone but now living in Kildangan, Tullamore explained how being made redundant twice in the space of a year spurred him on to go it alone. The Chartered Structural Engineer, who provides services such as construction supervision certification, BER assessments and structural/conditional surveys of buildings, said the course was extremely beneficial.

“I really enjoyed the course. While I knew how to carry out the services, I needed to learn about the financial, legal and marketing requirements of running my own business,” explained Mr Larkin.

Meanwhile Enda Fox from Clara explained why he chose to start his business, Fox Gardening and Maintenance. He said after leaving school he went to work in Tyco as a machine setter before becoming a banksman and a crane driver. When the opportunity arose to work in Australia for two years he took it. H

owever when he arrived back in Ireland, jobs were very scare on the ground for a crane driver. After taking part in the CE Scheme in Ballycumber he discovered his green fingers and the rest is history. He now does maintenance work for seven residents associations as well as work for several private housing estates.

Kenneth Coyne from Cloghan explained how he decided to turn his hobby, of handcrafting native timber, into a full time business, Irishcraftworks. “From an early age I had a love of art and woodwork, I was always designing and creating woodwork as gifts for family and friends.”

Mel Kennedy from Coolderry gave a presentation on his cabinet making business, Woodstein. As well as making custom made furniture, he also creates one off jewellery boxes. “I am very passionate about what I do and I’m willing to do new things. I have an understanding of what people want and I take pride in what I do,” he said. He told those about to embark on the course “You will get out of it what you put into it.”

Mary Noonan from Birr spoke about her business, Robert Carroll Kitchen Design, which works with Irish grown timber. She said up to now their marketing had been through word of mouth. However with the mentoring she received on the course, she now knew what she had to do to expand her business.

Caroline Ormond gave a presentation on her business, Occasional Hair, which offers a mobile hair dressing unit, specialising in doing hair for weddings, communions, confirmations and for people unable to leave their homes. “I hope you get as much out of the next six months as I did,” she told new participants of the course.

“There are 17,345 single ladies in Offaly. There are 20,196 single men. Single ladies, be happy. Single men, get cracking!” said Brian Hart of Hart Transport. The service offers themed hen and stag party transport. Mr Hart also spoke of his Hart to Heart Tours which offer midland castle of heritage site tours.

Attendees were treated to a demonstration of how to make your own wedding buttonhole by Dermot Maher of Floral Illusions.

Having worked in accounting and having qualifications in forensic psychology, flower arranging and interior design, Mr Maher decided to change direction. From his grandfathers house in Coolderry, he now operates a floral service, catering weddings, dinner parties and other events. After giving a photographic display of his work, he gave a demonstration to the audience of how to make a rose and angel’s breath buttonhole. He explained how he had made some really good friends over the six month course.

Michael Lennon from Kilcavan in Geashill explained how he decided to set up his own quantity surveyance business. With 14 years experience under his belt he explained “it’s better to spend a little to employ me to save money in the future”.

Paul Coyne from Tullamore said his passion for working with wood began when he trained as a furniture designer in Letterfrack. After losing his job of five years over a year and a half ago, he decided to set out on his own and Nine Design was born. The jewellery business offers pieces in walnut and resin as well as sterling silver. With eight orders here and one in Sweden on the books as well as supplying an exclusive range to a Dublin shop and being in talks with a company in Malaysia, the business is going from strength to strength.

George Dempsey from Birr spoke of his business gdempsycreations. At the moment he teaches art classes to adults and origami to children. “Oragami improves hand to eye co-ordination and memory recall,” said Mr Dempsey who is hoping to start work shortly with active age groups.

Course Co-Ordinator Carmel Ormond described the class as “an eclectic mix” and said they were great to work with and full of enthusiasm. “They have taken everything and run with it. They have all been hit by financial constraints and are all going to make a good living,” she said. Steve O’Donoghue from OLDC wished the participants luck in their future endeavours while Avril Hoffner from FAS described it as a very innovative programme and said the success of the programme was down to its participants, tutors and Carmel Ormond.

Other graduates of the course included Mary Carolan of Clonony Kitchen, Colm Bergin of Cow Scanning Service and Darren Dillon of Birr Guitar School.