Set-up over three decades ago, Hickey Engineering is today very much a leading supplier of structural steel & cladding throughout the country’s midlands. Founder and owner Tony Hickey told Irish Tractor & Agri all about a thriving company which has earned itself a glowing reputation over the years.
These days business is going well at Hickey Engineering and last year can go down as one of their best, with plenty of projects already lined up for 2019.
Based in Rahan, Tullamore, Co Offaly, the company employs 11 staff in total and is still run by its founder Tony Hickey after he’d set-up his venture on Easter Monday back in 1986.
Today, Hickey Engineering is a leading supplier of structural steel & cladding in the midlands, operating in its base just eight miles outside Tullamore, having originally been established by Tony – a qualified fitter who had quit his 9 to 5 job to set up his own workshop.
He had initially started out working for local farmers by fixing trailers, bog machinery and general welding repairs before seeing an opening for a shed erector in the local area.
The rest, as they say, is history and today Hickey Engineering holds a glowing reputation for commitment to quality and competitive prices along with, of course, customer satisfaction.
It’s a business which prides itself on holding more than 30 years’ experience in the fabrication and erection of a wide range of structural steel buildings for both the agricultural and industrial sectors.
Irish Tractor & Agri caught up with Tony Hickey to hear all about this successful venture from the man himself.
“We started off here in ’86, I had just turned 21 years old and at the time it was a bad recession here,” he recalled.
“We were just into general fabrication at the time and then I ended up getting into the farming industry by doing sheds and farm buildings.”
“Then, of course, the grants got going so we went ahead from there. We’ve since done in excess of 3000 farm buildings, and over 1500 industrial units. Usually after the ploughing championships we focus on farm buildings s that’s when there’s peak demand.”
He added: “We have done a lot of industrial work here too in order to have a mix of both. Johnny Flanagan of Flanagan Properties in Tullamore and the late Johnny Condron of Condron Concrete would have encouraged me in the early days to get into the heavy steel and industrial market. To both men I owe a huge thanks for encouraging me and subsequently giving me work.”
Tony has certainly been thankful for the encouragement as Hickey Engineering has since grown an impressive portfolio of farm, industrial and commercial buildings all throughout the midlands, while also continuing to provide a five-year guarantee on all their sheds.
It comes hand in hand with the CE certification, which the company was delighted to achieve back in 2015.
“The CE certification came in and you have to embrace change. We have all the necessary certification and we’d be certified here four years this year,” Tony beamed.
“When the recession came, we had a well-trained and skilled workforce, and to keep them in employment we got trained up for removing asbestos and replacing it with Kingspan insulated panel and standard single skin sheeting.
“I have good lads employed here and we’ve got a lot of work off Bord na Mona down through the years in the removal of asbestos sheeting and erection of new buildings. The farmers’ grants are still good, so business has been going well.”
Everything from domestic sheds to industrial buildings have become a large market for Hickey Engineering and the company has erected factories, warehouses, workshops, retail units of all sizes and specifications down through the years.
Their “A” Roof and Lean To type sheds are very popular for house holders who need a shed to facilitate storage, garage area and general workshop space, which are usually bigger than a timber version and are a quick build in comparison to the fully blocked type garage.
Through the availability of sports grants in recent years, Tony and his team have supplied and erected floodlights, ball stoppers, barriers around pitches and viewing stands for several GAA clubs and have also supplied and erected equestrian sheds used for indoor arenas, stable areas and covers over existing outdoor arenas. The first Equestrian job was Stables and Indoor Arena for the Deverell family at Annaharvey Equestrian Centre, Tullamore, Co. Offaly.
“To the Deverell family I owe a huge thanks for giving me a start in the Equestrian sector,” Tony commented.
Materials can be purchased from Hickey Engineering and you can erect the structure yourself. They also stock all materials from steel, timbers, sheeting, gutters, flashing to screws and bolts and can deliver them to your site and will only be a phone call away if you have any queries. “We also make all our own flashings so any bespoke or off-standard products can be produced.”
It’s all a far cry from when Tony first started out, as the Faithful County native explained himself.
“I started out never thinking I’d get to this stage – you probably wouldn’t have that at 21,” he said.
“I’ve up until recently drawn and detailed every building I’ve ever done and it’s somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 sheds completed over 30 years.”
This year Hickey Engineering look set to add a couple more to that tally, with a few projects having already gotten underway at the start of January.
“There are about three farm buildings that we’re on now at the start of 2019,” said the company’s founder.
“We do a lot of work for Leinster Timber Frames, Condron Concrete Works and Flanagan Properties and then, of course we’re working for a lot of local farmers over the past 30 years. We also Supply & Fit support steel in houses, schools and shops all fully all certified.
“I think younger farmers see now how important insurance and traceability certification is. If there’s a problem, they can come back to you and we always give a minimum of a five-year guarantee on all our buildings.”
So, what’s been the secret to Hickey Engineering’s success these last 33 years?
For Tony, it has largely come down to “the personal touch and the personal service that we provide,” he said.
“I’d advise people, especially with farm buildings, on ventilation, facing of sheds away from prevailing winds, and height and width of doorways to allow bigger machines in and out.
“I wouldn’t be just a sales man, the customer always has to be happy.”
Looking to the months ahead, Hickey Engineering’s owner and founder says he won’t be stressing out over the workload, but more leaning towards what he feels is the most crucial aspect of the business.
“I wouldn’t be overly worried about work, let’s just put it that way,” Tony stated plainly.
“Safe and healthy work practices of employees is always a focus for us because you don’t want to see anybody getting hurt.”
Killeranny, Rahan, Tullamore, Co. Offaly R35 VW68
Tel: (057) 935 5762 | Web: hickeyengineering.ie
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 2, April/May 2019