SK Electrical Services Ltd. provides quality, reliable electrical contracting solutions to the commercial, industrial and residential sectors. We popped into their base in Baldonnel, Dublin 22 and caught up with founder / MD Mark Kelly to get an insight into this finely-tuned operation.
SK Electrical Services Ltd. enjoys a reputation across the industry for delivering precise solutions to exact customer specifications, on time and at a reasonable price. This has led to the company carrying out work for some of the most prestigious main contractors in the commercial and industrial sectors.
Specialising in fit-outs and refurbishments of medium- to large-scale projects, SK Electrical Services is renowned for its expertise in electrical installations, lighting, emergency lighting, fire alarms, voice & data cabling etc. and also offers an exceptional electrical design service.
Projects are handled from the initial concept through to project completion and SK Electrical Services has developed an unrivalled reputation with the leading electrical engineers and developers in Ireland. Experienced, skilled and highly-motivated staff are trained on an ongoing basis to ensure familiarity with the latest technological advances in the industry, with a major emphasis also placed on Health & Safety.
With full commitment and attention to detail afforded to each and every project (regardless of size), quality, safe and affordable installations are delivered complying fully with the overall construction programme. All things considered (including an industry-quaking recession), this outstanding company has come a long, long way in 14 years.
Reflecting on the genesis of SK Electrical Services, Mark Kelly notes: “The company was formed by myself and Niall Sullivan in March, 2002 and I’ve been sole MD since 2010. Interestingly, Mark’s background is in a different sector of construction entirely: “I come from a family of stone masons and initially served my time as a stone mason in the mid-eighties,” he reveals. “As the work dried up and opportunities became limited in this industry, I made the decision to retrain. I went back to college at 22 and trained as an electrician. There was a lot of fairly intense training but it has worked out well for me.
“My father-in-law, the late James Dunne, who was an architect and a good friend of Frank O’Kane of Mercury Engineering, put in a good word for me with Frank and that got me started. So I’ll always be grateful to both of those men for giving me my first break in this sector. I started off working with Mercury Engineering and remained there for nine years. I then spend some time as a foreman in various companies before deciding to set up my own business.”
It’s very much a family business. Mark has been joined by his brothers Darren and Barry for the last ten years, while his father Brendan is also involved on a part-time basis. Meanwhile, wife Tara is a director. “There’s a strong sense of family running through the business, with three other sets of brothers also working here as electricians,” he notes.
Mark had to be extremely resolute and determined to come through the worst of the recession, but he feels that they are slowly coming out the other side and growing from strength to strength once more. “We went through some very challenging times from ’09 onwards,” he reflects. “We lost 75% of our business and had to streamline. We did a lot of work for some prominent builders at the time and like most companies suffered substantial bad debts which nearly crippled us. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was to let people go because most of them had been with me from the start. But they are starting to come back now as we get busier again.
“We’ve come back stronger now and things are looking very positive. To show our commitment to our clients going forward the company is very proud of achieving ISO 9001 and 18001 accreditation. We learned a lot of lessons during the downturn but we’re back employing again, which is obviously a good thing.”
Quality and price are equally important: “It’s all about quality workmanship and competitive pricing,” Mark confirms. “We fully commit to all our projects and have always tried to maintain high standards, which result in a large volume of repeat business. We are big enough to do the job and small enough to care. I take a very personal interest in every project, being involved from the start-up stage and making myself available at all times until the project is completed.
“To meet client needs, we will come up with cost-effective solutions that suit them. We’re very flexible and can give the client expert advice on how best to proceed to maximise the quality and value for money of each project.”
Counting prestigious electrical engineers and main contractors like John Sisk & Son and Collen Construction amongst their regular partners, SK Electrical Services work on a wide range of commercial, industrial and residential projects including student accommodation, office blocks, service stations, office fit-outs, colleges and schools, shopping centres and supermarkets, retail parks etc., and are in the process of handing over a 350 bedroom student accommodation block in UCD Belfield Dublin, in conjunction with the Collen Group.
Gainful employment is currently generated for a team of 40 but Mark is interviewing again as the opportunities increase within the sector for themselves. “We’ve a lot of projects starting in July/August,” he confirms.
Continuous investment in staff and procedures ensures that SK Electrical Services remain at the top of their game. “We’re constantly retraining and upskilling the staff – if you don’t, you will get left behind. It’s the same in any business: overheads are a challenge but they are necessary. If you cut corners, it will come back to bite you. We’re very stringent on the quality of staff we employ. The staff play a key role in our success and I’d like to mention our contracts manager Mick Deally in particular, who has stuck with us through thick and thin and is a key cog here in the day to day running of the projects.”
Looking to the future, Mark is confident that SK Electrical Services can continue to thrive: “My goal is to bring it back to where it was prior to the downturn and to get back to a size that we are comfortable with,” he concludes. “We are only after turning the corner in the last 18 months but there are opportunities there and it is encouraging that we are being asked to look at a wide variety of projects. We are confident in our ability. When you are working for the likes of the Collen Group – who have been very good to our company, and have a reputation for treating their sub-contractors with the upmost of respect, you can only feel positive for the future.
“Any business that came through the recession deserves to be commended as everybody is aware that the sector was decimated, but through hard work and endeavour coupled with a few lucky breaks along the way we lived to tell the tale, as they say ‘what doesn’t break you makes you stronger’”
“We pulled up our sleeves and got on with it. You can either sit and dwell on things and throw in the towel, which was common place, or you can try to trade through it. I like to think we are through the other side of it now and we have a bright future ahead of us.”
Taken from Building Ireland magazine, May/June 2016, Vol 2, No 2