D O’Brien & Sons Plant Hire & Construction is a customer-focused, third-generation family business that provides unrivalled concrete and plant hire solutions to farmers in counties Wicklow, Kildare and Carlow. We interrupted eponymous founder Donougha O’Brien’s busy schedule to discuss the full range of services offered and the magnificent fleet of machinery at hand.
Specialising in all types of shuttering, formwork and concrete work as well as offering full plant hire, groundworks, drainage and hedge cutting services, D O’Brien & Sons Plant Hire & Construction cater largely for farmers, whilst also lending their proven expertise to industrial and private house building projects.
From their base near Baltinglass in County Wicklow, three generations of the O’Brien family have built up a proven track record delivering construction, plant hire and contracting excellence, with a winning combination of experience, quality and dependability invariably resulting in satisfied customers.
Founder and proprietor Donougha O’Brien says the secret of the company’s success lies in its ability to consistently deliver high-quality, value-added solutions through the deployment of proven personal, machinery and processes. While price is always going to be a consideration for obvious reasons, quality is a more pressing issue as it is in the inherent quality of a finished job that the true value can be found:
“When it comes to milking parlours, for example, the cheapest is not always the best,” he notes. “Anyone who takes pride in their enterprise – as every farmer does – wants the job done right first and foremost. While some will always go for the cheapest option, on a lot of the jobs we do, the customer doesn’t even ask for the price. They just want it done right and they know they will get a good job at a fair price.
“That’s how we get so much repeat business. We always provide a professional, quality service and it’s all about finding that happy medium where everybody is happy. At the same time, we’re always aware of the fact that in any line of work you are only as good as your last job, so you are constantly striving to maintain the highest standards in terms of materials, workmanship and service.”
Plant hire and concrete work is very much in the family DNA. Following in the footsteps of his father, Matt O’Brien, Donougha established D O’Brien & Sons Plant Hire & Construction in 1995 and has two sons, Cathal and Adam, working alongside him in the family business as well as two additional full-time employees. Meanwhile, his brother, Matt Jnr., is also involved in the plant hire and concrete sectors, and the two companies often dovetail together on certain larger projects.
Reflecting on the genesis and early years of the business, Donougha continues: “During the housing boom, we were flat out doing groundworks and site clearance, etc. Once that went quiet, we started to concentrate more on agri work and we’ve been exceptionally busy with that for the past 15 years or so.
“For the farmer, we can do all concrete work for milking parlours, houses for storage, silage pits, yards, roadways and also a good bit of land drainage. Whatever they need, we can provide. During slack times, we were more than happy to start doing some hedge cutting and we still provide that service today. We have the hedge cutter on a Ford 8210 tractor and we also put a saw blade on our Hitachi ZX130 digger and can do a lot of heavy sawing with that.”
To meet every possible eventuality, Donougha and his team operate an extensive selection of plant, which is maintained in immaculate running order at all times, with the majority of machinery servicing and mechanicking handled in house.
The excavators are all Hitachi, the smallest being a ZX30, which runs alongside a ZX55, the aforementioned ZX130, a ZX225 and an EX200-5, as well as a JCB 3CX loader, Komatsu D53 bulldozer, two Moxy dump trucks, three site dumpers, a couple of tractors (the trusty Ford and a John Deere 6920) and even a tractor-pulling sled!
From within close proximity to the Wicklow-Kildare border, they provide their services within a compact catchment area that includes large swathes of both counties as well as Carlow. “We never have to travel too far for work,” Donougha confirms. “We get a lot of local work and deal with many of the same customers year in, year out.
“For the concrete buildings, we’d do a fair few jobs on greenfield sites, including milking parlours, sheds, lagoons, tanks and pretty much whatever is needed. Anything that sits above the ground, we will do it. We put the entire shell of the building in place, including all concrete and pipework.”
The varied nature of the work ensures that no two days are the same. At the time of writing, D O’Brien & Sons Plant Hire & Construction were constructing a 400-metre long driveway into a farmyard in Castledermot, having just converted a shed into a unit for automated calf feeders.
Having grown up in an agri environment, Donougha possesses an acute understanding of what a farmer wants when he brings in a contractor to provide a product and / or service. While the skyrocketing cost of fuel, energy and other inputs is placing farmers under immense pressure, the Wicklow man is pleased to report that business is brisk at present.
“On the dairy end of it, they endured a dry year which meant that a lot of fodder was required, while diesel and electricity prices are not ideal, but milk prices have gone up as well so it evens itself out,” he concludes. “A lot of milking parlours have been built in the last few years and there are now lots of sheds being converted for automated calf feeders.
“So, it’s all still running at full tilt, which is great because if you took the dairy man out of the country you wouldn’t have much left.”
D O’Brien & Sons Plant Hire & Construction,
Tel: 087 2646953
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 10 No 6, November/December 2022