Based outside of Athenry, Co Galway, Earls Engineering Ltd is a leading force in the fabrication of steel frame buildings nationwide. Irish Tractor Agri & Plant touched base with Office Manager John Leahy to learn more about the ins and outs of the company, its current projects and the overall state of business at the moment.
In operation more than three-and-a-half decades now, and employing seven direct staff, Earls Engineering Ltd continues to supply fitted buildings to the agricultural industry from its base in Kiltullagh, Athenry, Co Galway.
The company’s work sees it immersed in projects all throughout Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Limerick, Clare and indeed nationwide, with approximately 70 per cent of its work agriculture related.
Founded in 1986 by John Earls, Earls Engineering Ltd has grown over the decades to now specialising in the fabrication and fitting of steel frame buildings sheeted with single skin metal cladding, fibre cement and double skin composite panel insulated roofing.
Irish Tractor Agri & Plant spoke with the company’s Office Manager John Leahy to find out more.
“Business since the start of this year has been very tough because the prices of materials are moving so constantly now it’s unbelievable,” outlined John, who has been with the company since 1994.
“Even if you’re pricing a job, a guy comes back to you in a month’s time or two months’ time the price has moved again.
“It’s especially the case with some of the larger projects, so from the day that they initially price it to when they can get going there can be a big change in price. The way costs are increasing is a very real issue.”
Of course, the rising cost in materials has impacted businesses nationwide, stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and the government lockdowns which followed in order to combat the spread of the virus.
Those weren’t easy times for Earls Engineering Ltd either, as John explained.
“It (the Covid pandemic) hit business hard and only for the supports that the government gave we mightn’t have survived it,” he stated.
“Look, business is tough and only coming out of Covid then we were hit with the material increases, so business has been testing as of late.”
Nonetheless, the company continues to persevere and continues to be a leading force in the fabrication of steel frame buildings not only in Co Galway but throughout Ireland.
In supplying buildings to the agricultural industry, Earls Engineering has erected slatted houses, dairy units, piggeries and sheep housing units.
It has also completed projects related to the equine industry that include, horse stables and walkers, as well as riding arenas.
Right now, the company is involved in a number of different projects, both agricultural and industrial, and the plan is to keep things going for the foreseeable future.
“At the minute, we’re doing a job for Irlequip Ltd, which are a company that hire out tower cranes. That’s going on in Moate at the moment for us,” said the Office Manager.
“The industrial work is very important to us because farming can be seasonal, and you have to have industrial to keep going during the quieter times.
“Some of the recent dairy projects include for Ger Kirby in Limerick and John Brew in Kilrush.”
So, the burning question is, what has been the secret behind the continued success of Earls Engineering more than 35 years on from its inception?
How has a small start-up grown into a leader nationwide when it comes to the fabrication of steel frame buildings?
From John’s point of view, it’s a company which is very much “tried and trusted” given its track record down through the years of delivering excellent projects throughout Ireland.
“A lot of it is repeat business for us,” he said. “We keep files on all the jobs and a lot of the time we end up building extensions for the same client.
“We’re tried and trusted. It’s also word of mouth as well because farmers will go and look at other buildings that we have done, and we would often suggest for them to look at relevant jobs that we have done in the area.
“The fabricators are excellent tradesmen as are the fitters on site.
“That’s what really sells the product and we’ll only use the best of materials. We won’t cut any corners because that’s what gets you the repeat business – if they’re happy with the previous job, they’ll come back to you.”
Indeed, all of the steelwork at Earls Engineering is fabricated in the company’s workshop by its team of highly skilled, CE Certified welders.
Looking at the months ahead for the business, John says their upcoming projects will of course be the primary focus while also keeping two fingers crossed for a much overdue reduction in material costs.
“The hope is that material prices will reduce and encourage people to build and expand,” he concluded.
Earls Engineering Ltd
Tel: 091 848 111
E-mail: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 6, November/December 2022