Operating from Tempo, Co Fermanagh, Fee Engineering Ltd specialises in structural steel and farm buildings all throughout Ireland and in the UK. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant touched base with Managing Director Aaron Fee to learn all about the company – from its origins to the current projects it has on-going.
Business has been good as of late at Fee Engineering Ltd and the plan for Aaron Fee and the rest of the team in Tempo, Co Fermanagh is to try and keep things that way right through to 2023.
Operating with 14 full-time staff, the company is established 10 years now and headed up by its Managing Director Aaron Fee, whom has his brother Stephen working alongside him.
It’s a venture which specialises in delivering structural steel for its clients nationwide – many of them in the agricultural industry – which brings the company as far as Cork and even over to Scotland and England on occasion for its projects.
Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with Aaron recently to hear more about the ins and outs of the business and its overall hopes going forward.
“We specialise in structural steel buildings, farm buildings and commercial buildings and supply and kit,” he outlined.
“We’re also suppliers of cladding. Now we don’t make cladding but we supply it, and basically anything to do with steel we have it covered.
“We cover all over Ireland, down to Cork and Kerry and have been over to England and Scotland as well. You name and we’ll go.”
The origins of the Fee family’s involvement in steel engineering date back more than half a century when Aaron’s grandfather started his own business.
Aaron himself would follow in those same footsteps when he set-up Fee Engineering Ltd from its base in Tempo, Co Fermanagh a decade ago.
The rest, as they say is history, but the company’s owner and founder outlined that there were plenty of challenges to try and overcome after initially starting up his own venture.
“It wasn’t simple now, to be fair,” said Aaron. “When you leave a job and you’re only getting a couple of 100 pound a week, then you have to go out and make your own money – it’s not simple.
“But we are where we are now and we’re now turning about four to five million (pounds) a year, so I can’t really complain at the moment.”
Indeed, business has been going well lately and during the Covid-19 pandemic it managed to thrive for Fee Engineering.
At present, there has been a slowdown on the busy times which had been anticipated as a result of steel never being as expensive to purchase. There’s also the combined factor of fertiliser prices being at an all-time high for farmers, which obviously has a knock-on effect for companies like Aaron.
However, the Fermanagh man is optimistic that high prices will eventually “level out” and, for now, he’s just concentrating on the work at hand for his company.
“We put up a grain store for Kane Trailers up in Co Down, which is actually the biggest job we’ve ever done,” explained Aaron.
“It must’ve been 200ft by 140ft wide, a massive grain store that we completed over four weeks and you’re talking about 150 tonne of steel that went into that project alone.
“We’re in the middle of doing potato stores for William Stokes in Clonmel, Co Tipperary and we did an indoor horse arena for Adrian Williams in Ennis, Co Clare which was something similar to Kane Trailers size wise.
“We also did a filling station for Nicholl Oils beside us here in Enniskillen at the start of the year.”
Another sizeable project coming up for the company will see it carrying out an extension at Millennium Park in Belfast for Pomeroy-based client E Quinn Civils Ltd.
Even with a slight slowdown compared to the past two years, it’s still very much ‘all go’ for Fee Engineering at this point in time.
The company currently has five vehicles on the road (three vans and two lorries) and any one of those could be in Belfast today and Cork tomorrow depending on what’s on the project list.
It’s no surprise either to see Aaron having made substantial investments over the past 24 months or so, ensuring that Fee Engineering can remain ahead of the competition out there.
“We put in a C&C Sawline in December last year and it’s been a mighty job ever since for us. It speeds everything up and one man can cut 100 tonnes of steel every week no problem,” he said.
“We also put in a C&C Folder and a C&C Plasma and they’ve been all put in in the last two years or so.
“It’s a big investment but it’s paying well. We’d be carrying about 400 tonne of steel here in stock all the time, so you need to invest in the best machinery.”
As for why he thinks clients choose his company ahead other competitors in the same field, Aaron pointed out: “The first thing, if you’re VAT registered in the south, you can zero rate the VAT with us.
“So, that is a big thing for exporting for us. We’d be putting six buildings in the south every week; small and large it wouldn’t really matter. The VAT’s the big thing for us down there.”
He added: “We’re also VAT registered in the south, so we comply with all the regulations for putting up buildings through grants down in the south. We’re CE marked and have all the certs you need, so there’s no issues there.”
Looking towards the months ahead and towards next year, the Managing Director says he’s just keen to continue growing the business first and foremost.
“I would say we’ll be probably adding six more staff and maybe even eight depending on how things go.
“We could do with a few more office staff here at the moment. It would take the pressure off me a bit,” he laughed.
Open from 9am to 6pm five days a week and from 9am to 4pm on Saturdays, look no further than Fee Engineering in Doon, Tempo, Co Fermanagh for all your structural steel requirements.
Fee Engineering Ltd
Mobile: + 44 7725 744745
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 5, September/October 2022