Purcell Construction is one of Ireland’s leading building contractors, having developed a reputation for delivering outstanding quality projects nationwide, which meet and exceed client expectations. We visited their head office in Ballybrit, County Galway to find out more about this market-leading, award-winning operation from managing director Michael Bane.
Since its genesis in Galway in 1988, Purcell has evolved into a Top 13 Construction Company [Bruce Shaw list] in Ireland. This has not happened by chance: the growth of the company has resulted from the pursuit of excellence and attention to detail; high-quality workmanship; and maintaining close working relationships with customers, design teams and subcontractors to ensure that critical information and resources are in place at the right time.
The business was originally established by Gerry Purcell. A subsequent MBO by Michael Bane, Billy Coyne, Gerry Dolan , Nigel Tighe, Derek Timlin and Tom Whelan occurred in 2005, and these directors remain the main principals in the company today. The company’s head office is located in Galway with a regional office in Dublin.
Purcell Construction originally started business as a development company working in County Galway. The contracting side of the business was developed in the early 1990s and by the early 2000s, contracting accounted for 80% of turnover. Operations were expanded into Dublin and, ultimately, all of Ireland. Purcell built up a strong profile and portfolio in public works contracting, which later served them well, with the arrival of the recession.
The full spectrum of construction services in Ireland is covered, including commercial, education, restoration and conservation, healthcare/pharma , leisure and tourism, refurbishment and fit–out, and design and build.
To date, work has been solely in Ireland.
“We operate nationwide, covering all the provinces,” Michael Bane notes. “We have made a deliberate decision not to work outside Ireland as we consider that there is a substantial market at home that requires to be developed and serviced. We may decide in the future to consider working outside Ireland.”
Purcell currently employs 80 staff directly and 300-400 people indirectly through subcontacting.
“Our staff are the key to the success of Purcell,” Michael continues. “We employ highly-qualified personnel in the fields of construction management, engineering, quantity surveying, Health & Safety, quality management, building services management, purchasing, finance and accounts.
“Our staff operate and implement fully-certified and -accredited systems with ISO standards: Quality 9001, Environmental 14001, Health and Safety 18001. The achievement of excellence through continuous improvement is one of our main commitments.”
While the construction sector in general has been stagnant at best in recent years, Purcell is in a process of controlled expansion.
“We are currently experiencing growth in the industry, particularly in the private sector, which had disappeared from the market in the last six years,” Michael confirms. “In addition, PPP projects and an increased Public Capital programme is contributing to increased growth in the industry. It is widely acknowledged that the housebuilding industry must increase housing output. Current activity levels must be multiplied threefold to meet sustainable demand.”
That’s not to say that the economic collapse didn’t affect the company. Nobody in the sector came out unscathed…
“The economic downturn affected our business with a significant reduction in turnover,” the Galway man notes. “However, we were fortunate to be operating primarily in the Public Works sector prior to the crash. This sectoral experience and portfolio enabled us to continue to tender for the reduced number of public works projects in the industry during the downturn.
“We made all possible efforts to retain our core staff and we were fortunate to be able to do so during this difficult period in the industry. We focused on improving efficiencies in running our projects, as well as the elimination of waste on sites, which strengthened and made our company more competitive in the tender process.
“We have emerged from the recession a stronger company. We have a large number of key team members that have been with us for many years and our overall team has bonded even tighter through the recession and the hunger and passion to succeed is present in all.”
Every job – large or small – is treated as an absolute priority, with the same exacting attention to detail guaranteed.
“We regularly construct smaller scale projects, particularly in the commercial / fit-out sector and these projects get the same level of attention as our larger projects,” Michael stresses. “We recognise that whilst the project may be relatively small, they are often highly demanding in terms of short timeframes and often live working environments. Our commitment to delivering a quality service and end product applies to these small works as much as any of our larger projects.”
Purcell Construction’s portfolio includes hotels, hospitals, schools, swimming pools, pharmaceutical facilities, offices and apartments together with public and private housing. They have also successfully undertaken major restoration / conservation works to a number of landmark buildings, including Tullamore Courthouse, Pearse Museum, Ballymahon Library, Limerick Courthouse and, more recently, the €30 million restoration of St Mel’s Cathedral in Longford as a Joint Venture partnership, GemPurcell Ltd.
In the last year, Purcell has completed a major pharmaceutical project for Hollister in Ballina and five buildings on the new DIT campus at Grangegorman. They are currently working on the following projects: Arklow library; Corduff Primary Care Centre; Ardgillan Community School; Crookstown NS; Portlaoise Hospital; Asia Markets Dublin; Glanmire Community School; Ballinfoyle Community Centre; and an apartment development at Anglesea Road.
Regarding the secret behind Purcell’s success, Michael says: “In order to succeed, you must first be competitive in pricing work. The tendering process is highly complex and there is a very fine line between being competitive and being exposed to risk. Each project must ultimately be able to sustain itself and ensure that all of our subcontractors and suppliers are recompensed for their works.
“Our success has been founded on the appreciation that we must bring our supply chain with us through our projects and deliver the highest levels of service and quality of end product, at the end of the job. We adopt a teamwork philosophy, not only internally, but also with our clients and design teams. We focus on being the best we can possibly be and try to put ourselves in a position where others want to work with us on repeat projects.”
Purcell Construction has constructed numerous projects which have won industry awards, including the following: 2015 RIAI Peoples Choice Award; 2013 RIAI Best Cultural Building Winner (Luan Gallery, Athlone); 2012 RIAI Best Educational Building Winner (Loreto College, Crumlin); and 2011 RIAI Best Commercial / Retail Building Winner (Briarhill Drive Thru, Galway) – to name but a few.
“Constructing award-winning buildings is a major benefit to our company, but also to our management teams and subcontractors involved,” Michael Bane relates. “We are pleased to announce that one of our employees, Ronan Moore, won the prestigious “Project Manager of the Year” at a recent awards ceremony in Dublin promoted by the Chartered Institute of Building. Ronan also won a category award for projects from €10m to €30 million. Ronan won these awards for his exceptional management in the restoration of St Mel’s Cathedral, Longford.”
Looking to the future, Michael is confident that Purcell can consolidate and strengthen its position at the forefront of the Irish construction industry. “We are looking to capitalise on our success and ensure that, as the economy lifts, our team are focused and aligned on growing and developing the business,” he concludes.
“We consider this to be an exciting time for construction in Ireland with the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and all its benefits. The implementation of BIM within the Irish construction industry is changing the dynamics and behaviours of all involved. We are delighted to have adopted BIM, unlocking new, more efficient and collaborative ways of working in a new digital construction era.”
57 Briarhill Business Park,
Tel: 091 780800
Fax: 091 780801
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland magazine Vol 1 No 1, Autumn 2015