Established in 1992, Designer Group, an MEP outsourcing company, has key markets in Ireland, Europe, Africa and beyond. Its portfolio of work spans multiple sectors, including pharmaceuticals, data centers, manufacturing, commerce and infrastructure.
Designer Group’s turnover was over 265 million euros as reported in its latest 2019 financial report and although its 2020 turnover was reduced compared to the previous year, this does not reflected that the impact of the Covid lockdown.
“We are now growing and have a strong pipeline,” Gary says. The industry is used to having a number of bullets in the air, multiple variables and challenges, but 9 out of 10 times you can find solutions to a particular challenge, figure things out, and keep delivering. “In 2020, there was a huge degree that was beyond the control of the construction industry,” he adds.
An interruption of the work on site resulted in a slowdown in the work. Gary says 60% of the sites closed during the first lockdown, with 50% closed during the second and “it had an impact on our bottom line and our business in general.” But thanks to our great team and strong finances, we were able to react quickly and we are still in very good shape. We have an excellent and diverse workbook for the remainder of 2021 and 2022. ”
Gary informs Irish Building that the company’s pre-pandemic growth trajectory has followed a 16% increase in revenue year over year and it is positive that this trend resumes, particularly after the The downtime granted by the pandemic has allowed for some streamlining of operations. “The time during Covid was not wasted, we used this time to think. We’ve had an extremely successful growth model over the past 10 years and when you grow up like that you rarely have time to think so now we have it.
“We have launched our Engineering Our Future Business Improvement initiative and we are already seeing the benefits. We have refined our values, further structuring the company and this was very motivating for the team, all involved in the deployment of this initiative. This is something we are very proud of and which laid the groundwork for a more collaborative next phase.
Gary, whose primary role at the company is overseeing its industrial and African portfolio, said that the processes that were no longer working were removed and support functions were reviewed to significantly improve our operations, business communications and our engagement.
“We have also embarked on a new strategy for 2025 which is based on our core values; Safety, respect, trust, challenge, delivery. We have significantly strengthened the management team and time has also been used to launch a great new website for the company; designergrp.com, ”he adds.
“It is about refocusing and it revolves around the realization of successful projects for our clients. As you grow up you tend to go into different endeavors and sometimes you have to sit down and reflect, review things and correct them and for us that has been the best thing to come out of Covid. “
Focusing on clients has always been a priority for Designer Group and Gary believes the mantra will continue to see the company outperform for our clients. He recalls the firm’s recent work on a data center project, where this customer-centric approach was vital.
The first phase of the Oslo-based project, which was completed at the height of the pandemic, allowed the client (a global data center service provider that adheres to strict sustainability standards) to experience professionalism , the effectiveness and the internationally recognized reputation of Designer. Group. The project is a critical 36 MW data center facility, all powered by 100% renewable energy.
“It was an important project,” continues Gary. “It started around the time Covid was reaching its peak. Despite this, we still delivered the project on schedule and on budget. We worked hard and delivered and it was a positive experience. Some of our team, in their free time, were able to explore Norway when the opportunity to come home was not available and such was the success of this work, we are now looking forward to the next phase of the project. .
Among his other large-scale work during the pandemic was the Grangegorman Project, a project consisting of two key buildings: the Central Quad and the East Quad which are at the heart of Dublin’s new tech university campus.
The Central Quad hosts the academic activities and facilities required for a total of nine schools in the Faculties of Science and Health, Engineering and the Built Environment, and Arts and Tourism. The Quad Est hosts the academic activities and facilities required for a total of three College of Arts and Tourism schools. It was completed this year and Gary describes the project as a “very high quality installation”.
“The Grangegorman project is a testament to the guys who worked on it throughout Covid. What they have achieved on this site, in terms of a university campus, the biggest structuring university project undertaken by the State is immense. Many future industry leaders will be going through this facility, over the next few years it is a world class facility, ”he added.
Other notable activities of Designer Group include Celbridge State Forensic Laboratories in County Kildare where it will perform mechanical, electrical and cleanroom installations for the OPW. This should be completed next summer.
Meanwhile, renewable energy is a growing area for the company, both in Ireland and internationally. “Three sites we are currently working on in Africa are renewable projects and their impact on local communities will be significant. They will use the biomass of things like pineapple heads and by-products from the sugar cane industry and that means that money that would have been given to oil companies will now be diverted to subsistence farmers ”, Gary explains.
“We also completed a large solar project in Kenya,” Gary says. Africa is a big client for the firm. “We have been operating there for 10 years and have completed 20 projects in six different countries and we are really looking forward to expanding our African customer base with a strong pedigree and experience working in the region. We have built strong partnerships and an extremely loyal supply chain.
He adds, “When our client’s ultimate goal is to become net zero carbon, it becomes our mission to achieve it. We have also been very active in terms of renewable energy in the home and this is supported by government plans to support the renewable energy industry through the RESS (Renewable Energy Support Scheme). We have made progress in this area over the past 12 months and there are other related power infrastructure projects that we are working on, ”he reveals.
Meanwhile internally, Gary says; “The rooting of sustainability within our own company is well advanced. As a company, we plan to migrate all of our vehicles to electric models, we look at our carbon footprint and we plan to offer sustainable solutions to all industries. I think it would be hypocritical to work in this area and not follow this mantra ourselves, ”he adds.
At last count, the Designer Group team had 1,000 direct employees, including more than 100 apprentices at various stages of their training. Gary congratulates management for their leadership within the team over the past 16 months. “Our employees have always been the number one priority for the company, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary next year. Our business is about people and service delivery, ”he says.
Challenging, motivating and inspiring the team is the key to our success and this includes internal training and development that helps individuals grow within the company.
“We have just launched a Leadership Academy for a number of our team members within the company and that will take them to the next level. This is another part of our business initiative; generate, grow and engage.
Looking ahead, he says optimism is “palpable” within the team. “People used to build for a living, getting up and going out in the morning and it’s been a tough year for those who are used to having this level of job satisfaction, but ever since. opening of the other sites, there was a buzzing around the place. There is positive energy and we look forward to what the future holds.