Based outside of Clonakilty, Atlantic Contractors Ltd is a company which specialises in the building of one-off houses, extensions and renovations around Clonakilty and surrounding areas. Building Ireland caught up with Managing Director Gilbert O’Sullivan to learn all about a thriving company – from its origins to the state of business today.
Business is good these days at Atlantic Contractors Ltd but the past 18 months hasn’t been without its challenges for Gilbert O’Sullivan and the team.
Established in 2000, the company has grown from strength to strength over the past two decades to the point where it is now renowned for its quality and reliable services.
Delivering quality projects for clients had been the vision for founder Gilbert O’Sullivan from ‘Day One’ and making good on the promise to his customers time and time again has been one of the key ingredients to success thus far.
Building Ireland touched base with the Managing Director to hear about the ins and outs of the company and the projects it has on-going at the moment.
“We have been in business for over 20 year and the team includes three full-time employees and regular sub-contractors, all of whom are experts in their field. Together we strive for excellence in workmanship and always go above and beyond to ensure that the client is 100% satisfied. We are generally a small set-up which allows us to dedicate ourselves fully to each project and develop close working relationships with all our clients. We limit the number of projects we undertake at any one time to ensure the best possible end product and on average, we’d be doing five to six projects a year,” said Gilbert.
Staying relatively small has been crucial to the success of Atlantic Contractors Ltd, as it has allowed the company to focus on up to half a dozen projects on an annual basis.
Gilbert has opted to keep things that way over the past 21 years, having followed in the footsteps of his father by becoming immersed in the construction sector.
“I would have served my time as a carpenter with another local reputable building company run by my uncle, gaining vast experience from the best of foremen before setting up this business.” he said.
“My father was a carpenter/site foreman and, once I was old enough, I was down on the sites with him and learning the trade from a young age.
“I got the experience I needed and took the decision to go out on my own in 2000.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Atlantic Contractors Ltd has six projects on-going in the Clonakilty region and more lined-up for the coming months.
Things are looking promising heading into next year, but business right now is not without its challenges according to the Managing Director.
“Lack of tradespeople has been an issue for a couple of years but the recent lockdowns have compounded the problem by creating a huge backlog of work for all trades people and with very few people choosing to get into trades there is a scarcity of certain trades people today, especially the wet trades. Combined with the huge increases in materials over recent times, it is almost putting the whole construction industry at crisis point and I’m not sure if people realise how serious this is.”
Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government lockdowns which followed in order to battle the spread of the virus, impacted the Irish construction industry heavily and Atlantic Contractors Ltd felt its effects as well.
With government lockdowns now hopefully a thing of the past, the biggest problem at the minute for construction business remains the high price of materials.
Gilbert and his team have managed to persevere through thus far and, at the moment, they’re busy concentrating on projects entrusted to them by their clients.
“We’re completing a 1,400 square foot cottage extension in Barry’s Point, Courtmacsherry, Co Cork. We worked on the original cottage structure, totally gutting it, three years ago and we are back for the extension work on it,” Gilbert outlined.
“We’re also on an almost complete re-build in Rosscarbery, which at the moment is getting ready for plastering, and we have just completed a similar job in Glandore. We are working on a new build outside Clonakilty for overseas clients and have another new build to floor level along with an extension job.”
So, what has been the secret to success for Atlantic Contractors Ltd after all these years?
How has a small start-up at the turn of the millennium stood the test of time over the past 20 years to the point where it’s now a thriving company with an excellent reputation for its work?
For Gilbert, the solid reputation the company has today has come off the back of solid work, sound advice and quality after service.
“I’d say that 99 percent of the work that we do here is within a 10-kilometre radius and is through client referral,” he pointed out.
“We are known and trusted locally and have a good reputation for doing a good, sound job. This is down primarily to our staff and sub-contractors whose experience, skill and dedication is evident in every project we have undertaken. I am also hands on myself on site to oversee every detail. Everyone pulls together for the best possible end result. Good and continuous communication between all parties is also key to every project success. Building a home is an exciting time for a client and it is also the most significant investment a person will make in their lifetime. We understand that and for us the client comes first and we strive to deliver each build to the highest standard , while offering the best value for money.”
Looking towards the months ahead for the business, Atlantic Contractors Ltd’s MD is optimistic in spite of the current challenges that are out there.
With projects lined up into 2022, the company continues to move forward.
“My hopes are that more good quality tradesmen will get trained up especially in the wet trades and that the cost of materials can steady off so we can continue to deliver quality and affordable homes for future families. I feel very fortunate to be involved in the construction industry and that I enjoy what I do. I have worked with great people and fantastic clients along the way making some lifelong friends so I hope that this will continue for the future,” Gilbert concluded.
Gilbert would like to take this opportunity to thank all his clients, staff, suppliers and people of Clonakilty for their continued support.
Atlantic Contractors Ltd
Mobile: 087 277 2895
‘From start to finish Atlantic Contractors provided a home building experience based on honesty, integrity, professionalism, and fantastic communication. It was great working with Gilbert throughout the building process, he was always easy to get in touch with, quick to respond to any questions that came up, helpful in making difficult decisions and respectful of our unique wishes. We cannot imagine a better experience and are so grateful that we chose Atlantic Contractors to help us build a home for us to call our forever home.’ – Allen Whitaker & Therese Crowley
‘It was a pleasure to work with Atlantic Contractors on our house build from start to finish. Their pre-emptive approach to project management ensured we were always a step ahead and fully prepared for the next stage in the build. The team’s responsiveness and attention to detail were second to none and their hands on problem solving approach meant our build completed without a glitch. Atlantic Contractors are a vastly experienced team of professionals, we really felt we were in the safest of hands at all times! Our house build project has been entirely positive and enjoyable experience and we are absolutely delighted with the end result!’ – Niamh McCarthy & Terry Lyons
‘I was especially pleased with the communication throughout the project with Gilbert – he was very good at keeping me informed about what was going on, forewarning me about any challenges, and explaining any issues that might come up. For me this was really important. He really made an effort to understand what I wanted. Everything was well organised so the various sub-contractors could arrive on site and get to work without any delays.” – Ruth
‘Our architects selected Atlantic Contractors from a short-list of bidders who were known to have an excellent reputation; an important consideration for the size of project planned for Ballynoe House (the conversion of a barn and stable block to three luxury self-catering guesthouses). Work commenced in June 2017 and completed in time for the soft opening of our new business in March 2018; a total of 8 months. Project management and the working relationship between Atlantic Contractors, their specialist sub-contractors, our interior designer and ourselves was excellent. As we were living on-site it meant that interaction could be as frequent as required for decision-making and to improve the understanding of all the processes involved. Discussions on any aspect of the project were friendly and explanations clear. This was important as it was our only experience of any type of construction project and trying to convert our ideas and requirements into practical reality.
There was always helpful guidance and recommendations on what could be more practical and cost-effective, with full consideration of time and budget implications. Any discussions that required our input were immediate and did not impact the project timeline. Being a local contractor using local trades and services, the project management conformed to our ethos of supporting local, West Cork, businesses. The standard of finish was excellent. We have received compliments from subsequent guests regarding quality of workmanship and finish, particularly from those who work in the building trade themselves. Overall, what was a potentially daunting experience turned out to be relatively straightforward and stress-free, thanks to a quality and trustworthy contractor. We fully recommend Atlantic Contractors.’ – Mark & Felicity Grace
‘I have worked in construction in the United States and Ireland over a 45 year period to Director level and was involved in construction management on some of Irelands most prestigious projects. I know the construction business well and particularly the high specification, high end side and the Architectural practices and specialist subcontractors who win the awards. In all my time I have never met anyone better than Gilbert O’Sullivan. Over the past 3 years Atlantic Construction led by Gilbert have renovated an old dilapidated 1846 fisherman’s cottage for my wife and I and have just completed a very exacting extension to our home in West Cork while managing the works in total safety and around the Covid protocols. The attention to detail, management of every aspect of the works and the professionalism of Gilbert and his team has been a joy. This is our final home in retirement and working with Gilbert has made the journey a particular gift in our lives. The end product speaks for itself but the seamless manner in which it has been delivered speaks volumes of Gilbert’s love of his work and care for his clients. Nothing is seen by Gilbert as a problem and his kind and respectful nature along with his positive and infectious love of his work made this the most enjoyable project of my long career. I recommend Atlantic Construction in the highest possible way and anyone lucky enough to have their project managed by Gilbert and his specialist subcontractors will not regret it.My wife and I are indebted to the team and wish them every success in the future.’ – Patrick J. O’Brien
‘Gilbert and his team surpassed our expectations and it was a great pleasure to have them on board when building our home. Gilbert’s experience and advice along with attention to detail in every aspect made the process stress free. We highly recommended Atlantic Contractors to any potential future clients.’ – Tom & Patrycja Kingston
‘Atlantic Contractors made renovating our home so easy and hassle free. This was our first experience of using a building contractor and Gilbert could not have been more helpful, professional and pleasant to deal with. Not only did he follow the brief to perfection, but he also had suggestions of his own at our design stage which were very helpful. Throughout the build communication with Gilbert was excellent. Nothing was a problem that couldn’t be overcome. Even after our project was finished, Gilbert stayed in contact with us ensuring that there was nothing left on the snag list that had been overlooked. From start to finish it was a pleasure to work with Gilbert and all his staff at Atlantic Contractors.’ – Aidan & Darina
‘We were extremely fortunate to have had Gilbert O’Sullivan and Atlantic Contractors build our home for us. The design was reasonably complex with some innovative features and specifications, but nothing was ever a problem for Gilbert and his team. In fact, they continually made practical suggestions and improvements to the project as it unfolded which enhanced the finished product immensely. Their expertise, craftsmanship and attention to detail is second to none. They worked hand-in-hand with every trade and profession required to provide input to the project and all of the inevitable challenges that arise in projects like this were worked out cooperatively with no fuss. Everything was done on time and to an exceptional standard of finish. We are in the house now 19 years and Gilbert and his team have always been there for us for maintenance queries and whenever work is required. We have complete confidence in them and consider ourselves extremely lucky to have such good people on our side. We would highly recommend Atlantic Contractors to anyone.’ – Flor and Mags McCarthy
‘Our house turned out better than we could ever have imagined. It was like Gilbert was building his own house. He gave us so much good advice and even came with us to the builders providers to show us our options. Everything went so smoothly and we were in the house the day he said we would be. People don’t believe me when I say that building the house was stress free but it was.’ – Sally & Michael
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, December, Vol 7 No 12