Stephen Looney Fabrications SLF Steel & Plant Ltd is an established business with vast experience in designing, manufacturing, erecting and cladding farm sheds, warehouses and garages. Managing Director Stephen Looney outlined how the business has evolved since the early days back in 2006 and the services they currently provide to the local farming community.
When it comes to agricultural sheds, you need highly trained and experienced steel fabricators to make sure all work has been undertaken at the highest quality and standard.
SLF Steel & Plant cater for the needs of a wide range of clients with a range of services available including steel fabrications, welding and the erection of steel structures.
There are plenty of examples of the company’s exemplary workmanship dotted around the Limerick agricultural landscape and they are renowned as a company that can be trusted to deliver fit for purpose and long-lasting buildings.
Stephen Looney hails from a farming background and he knows what he is talking about when it comes to meeting the needs of his customers.
“We are farmers and agri contractors here in Croagh, doing baling, tilling, all that type of craic,” he told Irish Tractor & Agri.
“I started off making up a few machines and bits and pieces for the agri sector. I was also doing drawings for planning for sheds as well. One or two of the people we did plans for then wanted prices for putting them up so we jumped over on to that and started getting a lot of work, fabricating and installing sheds.”
Stephen subsequently diversified into the industrial sector and today his company covers Limerick and parts of north Cork, Kerry and Clare.
“I started in business as a sole trader in 2006. The first year and a half was fairly productive and I started moving into industrial buildings then. Business then slowed down for a couple of years, things got a little tough, but it has come back again in recent times, the last four, five years, in particular, have been good again.
“We have a lot of work at the moment subbing in and plant hire to other steel fabricators, putting up their steel and doing work for main contractors on site.”
SLF Steel & Plant Ltd currently has five employees on its payroll, including Stephen’s wife Kim who takes care of the administrative end of things. The company’s workshop is located at the Looney family’s home farm in Croagh, Co Limerick and the company has invested heavily in machinery and associated equipment in the last couple of years to enable it keep up with the demand for its services.
“We have a Merlo 5m Roto teleporter, a straight 30m Merlo teleporter, a 65 ft boom Genie hoist, an 80 ft boom Genie hoist and a low loader,” Stephen revealed. “The low loader is the newest addition and was purchased last September.
“Before that, we were getting people to move the plant for us, getting a loan of a low loader from the neighbour which wasn’t ideal. There was just too much stuff to be moved to be getting the loan of trailers off other people all the time.”
SLF Steel & Plant listen to the requirements of their customers and design the end product to ensure their customers are satisfied. From start to finish, their attention to detail is second to none and they have built up a long list of repeat clients that can testify to that fact.
“We’re going now 15 to 16 years, there have been repeat clients, we have a couple of sheds in a few fellas’ yards. We’ve put up steel for other fabricators on the industrial side of things and they get us back again when they are under pressure. We come in, throw up a couple of hundred tons of steel and go away again.
“As I said, thankfully, business has been good for the last four to five years. The price of materials and steel was steady there for a long time and everybody knew what their prices were. You knew where you were going. The industrial side of things has really sped up.
“We haven’t done a whole lot of farm buildings in the last two years but we’ve had a lot of enquiries alright. We’ve probably been too busy on the industrial side of things but we have a couple on the go again this year.”
On a negative note, Stephen continued: “The big challenge at the moment is the variations in the price of materials. Materials are hard to get as well, it’s hard to get fixings, screws and bolts. Paint is the next thing that is going to be the hard thing to get.
“It’s the unpredictability. Some people are pricing away but they may not be up to speed on what the prices are now for steel. Or people are pricing to cover themselves. There’s an awful variation on prices these days. It’s not fair on the farmer and it’s not fair on the contractor.”
When asked: ‘What are the key attributes that the SLF Steel & Plant team prides itself on?”, Stephen replied without hesitation: “Quality of finish and supplying good quality materials for farm buildings and warehouses.”
He concluded: “We have the capability to take on any size of a farm job. We have the men, the machinery and the equipment to get jobs done.”
Stephen Looney Fabrications SLF Steel & Plant Ltd
Mobile: 087 410 3745
Email: [email protected]
First published in Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 9 No 4, July/August 2021