Based in Ardeskin, Co Donegal, Ferm Engineering Ltd. is a family-run business which specialises in Mechanical, Electrical and Renewable Energy Services throughout the North West of Ireland and further afield. Building Ireland touched base with Managing Director Jim McCabe to learn all about the ins and outs of this thriving business and the projects it has on-going at the moment.
These are busy times at Ferm Engineering Ltd. and the plan is to keep the momentum going into 2023.
Set-up in 2006, the company has grown from strength to the point where it now employs 55 full-time staff from its base in Old Laghey Road, Ardeskin, Donegal Town, Co Donegal.
Ferm Engineering Ltd. was one of the first companies in Donegal operating within the renewable energy sector, specialising in the installation of solar panel systems, wood pellet burners, domestic windmills and heat pumps.
Building Ireland spoke with owner and founder Jim McCabe to find out more on the current state of business and his hopes for the months ahead.
“We’re busy surely at the moment,” said Jim. “One of the biggest problems for us is the availability of labour.
“Other than that, we’ve been doing quite well. Year to year our turnover has been increasing and we’re still growing. It’s still quite competitive out there despite the amount of work that’s out there.
“You’ve got to be at the top of your game and professional in your approach and that’s what we try to do every day.”
From ‘Day One’, Ferm Engineering Ltd. has always been professional in its approach and the results have shown.
The company’s ethos is to deliver quality and sustainable solutions and, when it comes to its projects, it endeavours to deliver to the highest standards.
Donegal County Council, the HSE and ETB are just some of the clients that Ferm Engineering Ltd are currently delivering projects for, as the Managing Director outlined:
“The HSE are one of our main clients. We have primary care centre projects on-going in Donegal and Sligo, which are high-profile projects,” said Jim.
“We’re doing extension work in Atlantic Technological University Letterkenny and in Atlantic Technological University Sligo together with a number of small projects in Dublin.
“We’ve probably installed over 100 heat pumps last year and there is an increasing demand for photovoltaic. We are increasing our activity in the Renewable area especially in relation to Heat Pumps and Photovoltaic.
“The opportunity is there to grow, and we’re gearing up to become a good player in the retro fit system service with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
“The SEAI have set certain standards and the result is, qualified professional personnel must carry out the work. This means the standard of the work across the country will improve.”
At Ferm Engineering Ltd. the company has the facilities and expertise to prepare and develop drawings and specifications.
It has always been a priority within the business to employ highly qualified and skilled craftspeople and engineers to carry out on-site installation work, and also supply a wide range of products in relation to the services it provides.
The installation crew at Ferm Engineering Ltd have senior trade certificates in either electrical or mechanical disciplines, while the engineers in the design office are qualified to degree level and are members of Engineers Ireland. All relevant Health and Safety training and specialist training is provided as necessary to employees.
All of that considered, the burning question is, what has been the secret to the success of the business over the past 16 years?
How has a small start-up born in the town of Donegal grown into a leading mechanical and electrical engineering company, which now employs more than 50 full-time staff and operates with a reputation that can be best described as excellent amongst its clients.
For Jim, trust earned through delivering top class projects time and time again has gone a long way for this family business. This ethos is also being carried forward by Jim’s son James who is Operations Manager for the Company.
“One of the things that attracts clients to us is the fact that we carry out both mechanical and electrical services. This makes life easier for both clients and main contractors,” stated the Managing Director.
“They trust us and they know they can rely on us to get the job done, and that there won’t be any gaps in the project either.”
Earlier this year, Ferm Engineering Ltd. was announced as finalists in the Public Building category at the 2022 Irish Construction Excellence Awards.
The nominated project was the Letterkenny Public Services Centre which saw a major renewable energy retrofit carried out on the building.
Work included innovative construction techniques undertaken by Ferm Engineering Ltd, as well as green sustainable materials specification to lead Donegal County Council on their way towards tackling some of the biggest modern-day challenges facing public sector bodies under the Climate Action Plan 2021.
The project provided both Ferm Engineering Ltd and Donegal County Council with a good insight and understanding to the challenges encountered by live office energy retrofits.
“We’d already completed another Council office in Milford and it worked out very successfully,” Jim explained.
“So, the one in Letterkenny saw new technology introduced and Donegal County Council were very happy with what we did for them.
“We won the tender and we had a lot of pipe-fitting to do with it. That particular craftsmanship stood out as it was so well done, it blended so well into the building, that you wouldn’t know it was there – that’s how well it turned out.
“The project itself started in October 2021 and was completed in early January 2022 and it probably would’ve been completed earlier but for Covid.”
Looking towards the coming months for the Ferm Engineering Ltd. Jim is eager for more of the same business-wise as the company continues to thrive despite all the challenges out there at present.
“You’ve got to be continually looking ahead and, work-wise, we’re ok for another year,” he revealed.
“We put a lot of emphasis on trying to identify good young people and training them as well. That’s something that we try to concentrate on and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
Great to hear.
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, August 2022, Vol 8 No 8