As we all know, the construction industry can be a volatile market to be involved in. We are only 19 years into the current century and already we have experienced monumental highs and lows in the building trade.
To say we went from one end of the spectrum to the other would be a massive understatement. The highs of the Celtic Tiger were followed by the unparalleled lows of the latest recession to hit these shores.
This dark period was never experienced before, despite there being numerous recessions down through the years. And so, for many involved in the construction industry, the options were limited, emigration was the number one option for a lot of the younger generation, while turning to other industries was a close second.
Certainly, no one started up their own construction business during this period, right? Well, the answer to that question is that yes they did. There were a certain few that took the chance and are still going strong today and for this month’s edition of Building Ireland, we profile one such business that was established at the height of the recession in 2012.
Cork based KDC Building & Civil Engineering Ltd was established by Donal Kenneally and these days they specialise in domestic, commercial, industrial and educational contracting.
Headquartered in Kilworth, KDC has earned a reputation over the past seven years for producing quality work on every project that they are involved in and their portfolio keeps growing by the year.
The first question we had to put to Donal was why establish a business during the height of a recession?
“The company I was working for went bust and I had a number of years’ experience in the building trade, so I decided to take a chance and go out on my own,” revealed Donal.
“Starting off on a small scale, we were involved in a number of one-off houses, but I suppose our big break came when we won the tender for a school project and that led to other work in the same area and that was what really kept us going for the first few years until the economy started picking up again.”
Through the educational projects that KDC have been involved in, they are known as specialists in this area, but Donal stressed that they are capable of doing much more than that.
“We carry out work across a wide range of sectors. We are still involved in school projects and are currently working on schools in Dungarvan Co Waterford, Hospital Co Limerick and two in Cork City. Our other works include, one-off houses and general construction projects.
To carry out all this work, Donal has a dedicated team of 16 employed directly, while he has a plethora of tried and trusted sub-contractors.
“There is a good team here and the majority of them have been with me from the start or close to it. The sub-contractors I use are guys that I know well, and I know the quality of their work and they know what I expect from them. As they say, ‘it’s better the devil you know.’”
A sign that the work produced by KDC is of a very high standard is reflected in the amount of repeat work that they attract.
“The repeat customer base would be growing all the time and we would cover all of Munster. We would do a lot of work for the same architects that have been happy with the work we have done on previous projects. However, we know that we have to maintain those standards and that is something we are very conscious of.”
Donal is delighted with the way the business has developed over the past seven years, but he admits that the current surge of work seems to be levelling off, particularly down south.
“To be honest, I see that Brexit is already having an effect on some projects. We are involved in some fit-out work in a few Shopping Centres in Cork City, but some of that work is on hold because of Brexit and there is a lot of concern there.”
Despite this, Donal added that their order book is in good health, not only for the rest of the year, but into the middle of next year as well.
“We have a number of projects finishing off shortly and we have other ones to go on to. Like I said, we are busy at the moment, but you learn to take nothing for granted in this industry and we are continuously tendering for work.
We’re fortunate to have a core of customers who we have an excellent working relationship with.”
One area of the business that Donal and the team place a great deal of attention is Health & Safety. “A Safety Officer visits our sites every week to audit our projects and ensure that all our work is being carried out in a safe manner. Workers are more conscious of the dangers on a site than they were in the past and the aim is for everyone to go home safe on a daily basis.”
Three years ago, the headquarters moved to Kilworth in North Cork, where the office staff now carry out their duties.
Accreditation wise KDC Building is a member of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI), as well as a registered installer under the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland(SEAI) and a registered contractor with Homebound.
KDC Building & Civil Engineering Ltd
Tel: 025 43891
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, December 2019/January 2020, Vol 5 No 11