Allwood Architectural Joinery – one the fastest growing bespoke joinery companies in Ireland – has been shortlisted for an Irish Construction Industry Award. Building Ireland touched base with Operations Director & Estimator, Connor Magee, to find out more about this exceptional family-run business, which is experiencing unprecedented growth by embracing innovation and technology.
Established in 1997, Allwood Architectural Joinery has established itself as one of Ireland’s premier joinery and fit out specialists. A close-knit, family-run business currently enjoying significant growth, Allwood generates direct employment for a highly-skilled team of 45.
Having specialised exclusively in joinery and furniture for the residential and hospitality (small works) sector until 2013, they subsequently set their sights on the fast-growing commercial and construction industry as the demands for specialised joinery and fit outs grew.
Today, Allwood’s focus is on designing and manufacturing bespoke joinery for large office fit outs, hotels, bars and one-off intricate pieces such as thermoformed solid surface reception desks. Allwood create their designs to suit the client’s requests and work alongside architects to make their complex designs a reality – both visually and structurally. They also create individual bespoke furniture and architecturally-designed pieces.
All materials and workmanship are always of the highest quality, with attention to detail being the No.1 priority. This has helped the company gain immense credibility over the years, facilitating in the formation of key business relationships with contractors and clients.
By moving with the times and taking on the very latest innovations and technologies, Allwood is at the very cutting edge of architectural joinery, regularly working for top global companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Adobe, Zendesk, etc.
Allwood Architectural Joinery’s specialist services are in big demand with architects (MOLA, RKD, MCORM, MCA, Odus, Henry J Lyons, Niall Montgomery & Partners, etc.), companies and contractors alike. They have carried out work for all the leading main contractors in Ireland, from Sisk to Hegarty, Ardmac to John Paul, Structuretone, Flynn, T&I Fitouts, Walls, Azure, Mac Group, FKM, etc.
Regular winners of major industry awards, the County Laois headquartered company was shortlisted in the ‘Subcontractor of the Year– Small’ category of the 2019 Irish Construction Industry Awards, which Director Connor Magee rates as a big accomplishment:
“Going back four or five years ago, we employed 12-15 lads and we are now up to 45 direct,” he notes. “Our turnover was €1m in 2016 and it went up to €3.3m last year and we’re on course to reach €6.6m in 2019. So, our turnover is pretty much doubling year on year and the business is growing significantly, largely due to the manner in which we have integrated the latest innovations and technologies into our business model to provide clients with the very best service.
“For us, as a family-run business coming from a modest background, to be competing with major companies, which have been around for many years, at the Irish Construction Industry Awards is a source of great pride.”
Other reasons for the success and growth of the business? “We have established very good relationships with contractors and that is critical. Also, our delivery and finish is to a very high standard. From a joinery point of view, quality workmanship delivered to programme is vitally important. That’s what you are judged on.”
Allwood Architectural Joinery have doubled their workforce in the last year alone. At the time of writing, they had ten office-based employees, ten in the machining facility, 15 in the assembly and finishing factory area and ten fitters working on site.
The company’s state-of-the-art 50,000 sq. ft., fully self-sufficient, eco-friendly workshop is heated solely from waste materials and shavings. Their craftsmen are a mixture of qualified joiners, many of whom have come through their own internal apprenticeship programme and graduates from GMIT, Letterfrack, with whom they work closely to offer students and graduates invaluable experience.
Supported by both LEADER and Enterprise Ireland and currently working on major projects in the EU, Allwood invested heavily in their facility and new machinery in 2018. Expenditure included €450,000 on a new extension, which doubled their capacity, and €700,000 on the latest HOMAG machinery from Germany. This is some of the most complex machinery available worldwide in the joinery industry, including a three-axis large nesting CNC, five-axis CNC and an extended beam saw with automatic feeder and offloading set-up.
Meanwhile, Allwood Architectural Joinery was also the first joinery company in Ireland to implement ‘imos’ – the world’s leading CAD / CAM software, which they introduced in January, 2019. Connor worked tirelessly behind the scenes for many months to make this possible. While it represents a large software investment, he knew it would have a huge impact.
The result is that production lead times are slashed and drawing communication between main contractors and architects is made super responsive. As soon as drawings are approved, Allwood can literally export these to the factory floor with automated CNC programs, sub assembly drawings, part lists, etc.
In conjunction with Crowsnest Software in America, Connor and his team also helped develop and tailor a specialised Project Management software & app for subcontractors in the Irish and European markets. They are still adding improvements as they go along but this has become the main tool in driving the company – a complete Project Management software from estimating to project completion and everything in between, even controlling accounts and wages.
Allwood Architectural Joinery is the only joinery company in Ireland using such a highly developed tool. “The software suits our company perfectly,” Connor continues. “Anything that already existed was either too small or too expansive, so we met with them and worked together to come up with this complete sharefile PM system.”
As a ‘smart’ joinery, offering clear and fast communication, Allwood have stolen a march on the competition and this has led to the dramatic phase of growth being enjoyed at present. But Connor – who was a finalist in Laois’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2019 – is keen to ensure that future growth remains controlled and sustainable:
“We want to make sure that we maintain the very highest standards whilst also continuing to keep that personal touch we’re renowned for,” he stresses. “We always had that as a smaller company and we still have it today. We have to make sure that we maintain that attention to detail and that our Project Managers on site work closely with the client.”
Having recently secured their first €1m contracts (King’s Hospital Student Accommodation for Azure Contracting & MOLA Architecture; and Airbnb HQ, Reflector Building, Dublin for T&I Fitouts & Heneghan Peng Architect), Allwood Architectural Joinery also recently took on their first official supply and fit export job – comprising €160,000 worth of bespoke joinery – for main contractor Flynn Management, for an undisclosed global company’s data centre located in Viborg, Denmark.
Allwood teamed up with LG HI-MACS in 2018 and have undergone extensive training to become a HI-MACS Quality Club Member, which gives their fabrication the full support of HI-MACS along with a 15-year warranty – the longest warranty in the solid surfacing market.
Close runner-up to the biggest joinery in the UK at the 2018 Fit Out Awards, Allwood worked with HJL on the modelling and design of a highly-intricate solid surface reception desk for the highly regarded 1SJRQ, which they then fabricated and fitted. This is featured as Project of the Year in LG HI-MACS’ 2019 product catalogue – a huge achievement for a fabricator in Ireland.
Indeed, Allwood were the only company in Ireland with the drawing and fabrication capabilities to deliver this design for HJL, which demonstrates how strongly diversified they have become, with no project too big or too small.
By embracing innovation, technology and the latest machinery, Allwood Architectural Joinery can maintain their high standards of delivery, quality and attention, even with significantly increased output. “We are also very lucky to have a lot of young and energetic people working here, who are open to these ideas, and that helps drive the business,” Connor concludes. “We share that vision and common goal. You have to think outside the box sometimes and keep things fresh. There’s tremendous energy and enthusiasm here and that’s one of the reasons why architects and main contractors enjoy working with us.”
Allwood Architectural Joinery
Tel: 057 86 63855/63816
Fax: 057 86 63224
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, August, Vol 5 No 8 7