Situated in Inishowen, Co Donegal, James Farren Steel Erection Ltd specialises in pricing and erecting agricultural sheds in the north west and even further afield. Irish Tractor & Agri touched base with the man himself to learn all about the family company – from its origins to the state of business today.
These are busy times for James Farren Steel Erection Ltd and the plan for the team up in Tullyalley, Co Donegal is to try and keep things that way right through 2021.
The origins of the business date all the way back to 1968 when James’s father ran his own company and he would carry the torch of his family’s business until his son took over the running of it in 1997.
Today, James Farren Steel Erection Ltd employs five full-time staff, with James’s wife Sharon and brother Brian both involved in the business.
Irish Tractor & Agri caught up with James Farren to hear all about the business and its on-going projects at present.
“We basically talk to farmers and try to help them out as best we can when it comes to decisions with their buildings,” he outlined.
“It’s all agri buildings that we do here and we’d very seldom do commercial work with our clients. So, it’s a lot of pricing and erecting steel for the clients which would be mainly farmers.
“I’m at it 35 years now altogether.”
Three-and-a-half decades of experience have stood to James and, even in unprecedented times like these, the company still continues to thrive.
The Covid-19 pandemic, and the government restrictions which have followed to combat the spread of the virus, have affected businesses nationwide.
In the case of James Farren and his team, their clients’ business has been affected more than theirs, but they remain busy in Tulleyalley nonetheless.
“It’s busy now, actually it’s very busy,” said James.
“I suppose the biggest problem is with supply and materials nowadays with everything that’s going on.
“Right now, we have projects on-going in Buncrana and we have a lot of sheep houses going on in different areas as well.
“We go all over Donegal but we cover a wide region too and have gone as far as Meath in the past with different projects.”
The reputation the company has built up over the years is also something to talk about.
Back in the days when James’s father ran his business, it was the quality of the projects delivered that saw the good word of his company’s work spread all around the Tir Chonaill County (and beyond).
“It’s all word of mouth,” James pointed out. “That’s how we’d be getting the majority of our business, through the projects that we deliver to our clients, because we would very seldom advertise.”
Indeed, word of mouth is as effective a way as any when it comes to getting new business, especially when it comes to working with local farmers and agri contractors.
James Farren Steel Erection Ltd has established an excellent reputation for its work over the decades and it’s a reputation that continues to blossom.
So, what has been the secret to success for the company down through the years?
According to James, lengthy relationships with clients and an experienced workforce go a long way in this game.
“It’s just that we’re well known at this stage, I suppose,” he said. “We’re known by a lot of local farmers and you’d have lads that know us down through the years.
“We’d be well in with agri contractors in the area too, so that’s a help as well, and the concrete men will tell the farmer about the steel men.
“We also work well as a unit and there’s men here with us since my father’s time. Two or three of my employees would be here since 1996 as well, so it’s been a tight unit down through the years and we work together very well.”
It seems to be the key ingredient to the company’s success to date as it nears closer to 25 years since James Farren himself took over the running of the business.
The projects are there and when the current lockdown on non-essential construction eventually lifts, one would imagine that they’ll be coming thick and fast for companies like James Farren Steel Erection Ltd.
Looking towards the coming months, the man himself hopes that the situation with regards to Covid-19 will improve overall, with vaccines currently being rolled out worldwide.
He also hopes that they can continue to provide clients with the same excellent service going forward.
“If it just keeps going the way it has been going lately, and we can keep busy with different projects, we’ll be happy enough here,” James concluded.
James Farren Steel Erection Ltd
Mobile: 086 212 1717
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 3, May/June 2021