Based in Muff, Co Donegal, BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd is a family business which specialises in steel erecting and cladding work. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with Managing Director Keith Parke to learn all about the ins and outs of the company, the current projects it has on-going and the overall state of business.
These are busy times at BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd in Co Donegal and Keith Parke and the rest of his team mean to keep things that way right through to 2023.
Established since 2019, the company’s origins date back more than a quarter of a century when Keith’s father Victor set-up up his own agri building venture.
From that moment on, the Parke family name became more and more renowned for its excellent work when it comes to farm buildings throughout the Tir Chonaill County.
After Victor Parke’s retirement, Keith took over the running of the business and set-up BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd, with his brother Adrian and nephew Jack employed by the company which will mark its third year in business this year.
Irish Tractor Agri & Plant touched base with Keith recently to find out more on what his business has been up to as of late and its plans for the coming months.
“Right now, we have seven full-time staff and the business itself has been established as BlackBrae Parke Engineering three years now,” Keith outlined.
“We do farm buildings, grants material, cladding – we take care of everything really for the client.
“I’d do the steel work and we also refurbish buildings, so anything in general that the farmer needs really.
“We also do repair work, new builds, extensions – you name it and we do it.”
With his father having run his own agri building business for well over two decades, Keith has followed in his footsteps and the past experience gained working alongside him has been integral.
BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd may only been in its early years, but there’s no question that the company has hit the ground running.
Since 2019, business has been flourishing with numerous different projects completed in its local area although there have been some obstacles as of late, namely the rise in construction materials and diesel.
“Obviously, the farm industry has been hit bad this year but, up to now, we’d been fairly busy,” said Keith.
“The only problem for us is the cost of materials and now, of course, diesel is a huge cost for farmers.
“It’s a problem across the board and ya don’t know how long it’ll go on for.”
That said, the projects continue to come thick and fast for BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd.
Even throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government lockdowns which followed in order to combat the spread of the virus, the company still more than held its own with regards to the amount of work it had on-going.
Today, it’s fair to say it’s almost as busy as ever.
“At the minute, we’re working on an 11-bay milking parlour and we actually just finished roofing it,” the Managing Director outlined.
“We’ve a refurbishment job going on in Greencastle and, farm-wise, we’ve just got a few other ones started.
“So, we’re still busy and actually have a couple cubical houses to price as well. So, the work is definitely there no doubt about it.”
He continued: “If all this hadn’t happened with regards the situation with Russia and Ukraine, it was set to be another great year for us. The smaller farmer is going to struggle now with diesel prices and you have to feel for them.
“We do have a lot of steel work on-going for houses as well, so we’d be very busy with them and it’s a good thing we have that to fall back on as well.”
As for the area that Keith and his team cover with regards to projects, staying local has very much worked so far for the company.
BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd covers the north west region but, in truth, the vast majority of its projects would be in and around the Inishowen area, i.e. within a 30-mile radius of the company’s base in Muff.
“We’ve always had enough to keep us going just in and around this area, thankfully,” Keith pointed out.
So, all of that considered, the burning question is what has been the secret to the company’s success and continued high rate of projects?
When put to him, Keith highlights three things in particular that sets BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd apart from the rest of its competitors out there.
“It’s down to service, reliability and quality,” he stated.
“The client doesn’t keep coming back to you unless something is right and we get the job done right for them every time.
“As well as that, we’re competitive price-wise and we try and look after them as well as we can.”
Looking towards the months ahead, Keith said that the company will simply keep focused on the work it has lined up while also looking at securing more projects.
After that, he says he’s hopeful that costs will return to some sort of normality sooner rather than later.
“We have a milking parlour to do now and there’s a couple of phases to that project.
“We’ve a couple of cubical houses there to work as well and another extension or two. There’s a couple of good sheep houses as well that we have ahead of us, so we’re definitely kept busy for the next while.
“Hopefully, things can keep going like that for us and the price of materials and diesel as well can start to level off, but it’s just hard to see at the moment,” he concluded.
BlackBrae Parke Engineering Ltd
Mobile: 086 392 2624
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 4, July/August 2022