Boasting an unrivalled degree of expertise, Masterair Services specialises in the maintenance, aftercare and commissioning of boilers, air conditioning equipment, pumps, controls, chillers and air handling units, while partner company Mastertech Engineering provides a complete range of mechanical and electrical contracting services. We caught up with joint MD Shay McConnell to get an insight into both companies.
Though independent entities, Masterair Services and Mastertech Engineering complement one another perfectly. Both companies are fronted by joint managing directors Shay McConnell and Aidan Conway and both are driven by a highly skilled team of engineers committed to delivering the highest professional standards.
Established in 1989 as a sister company to air conditioning equipment and controls manufacturer Masterair Sales (which closed down in 2006), Masterair Services specialise in the installation and maintenance of air handling equipment and all types of mechanical and electrical systems.
MDs Aidan Conway and Shay McConnell joined in 2001 and 2007 respectively; in 2015, the pair oversaw a successful Management Buy Out of the company. They took responsibility for 30 staff at the time and have subsequently more than doubled that number.
Over the past three years a considerable amount of energy and resources have been invested into progressively building up a nationwide team of highly-skilled service engineers. This has proven to be invaluable, with a diverse skillset required to provide a broad range of engineering solutions.
Masterair’s engineering team is now their greatest asset and their professionalism and unrivalled degree of expertise has been fundamental to the growth of the company – a successful nationwide operation with a reputation for high quality workmanship, reliability and value.
With Masterair already possessing the required skillset to carry out typical mechanical installation work, the genesis of Mastertech Engineering was something of a no-brainer. Mastertech Engineering focusses on mechanical services installations, incorporating pipe work, boilers, controls, commercial heating systems, cooling systems, general plumbing and electrical installations
The two companies are linked by the same logo, branding and corporate identity but are run as independent entities. Thus, any perception that Masterair Services was limited to air conditioning has been removed.
“We were pigeonholed into that area and the stigma attached to the name Masterair was that we could only do service and maintenance of air conditioning equipment. We had the capacity to undertake mechanical installation services but the ‘air’ part of the name was impeding us,” reflects joint MD Shay McConnell, who came from a mechanical contracting background (having previously worked with Lynskey Engineering) and oversaw the establishment of the new installation division.
Incredibly, business grew through the recession and Mastertech Engineering were soon securing mechanical services projects valued at up to €1m. Today, Masterair Services continues to specialise in servicing and maintaining HVAC systems nationwide, while Mastertech Engineering offers a complete range of mechanical and electrical contracting services.
In addition to main contractors, regular clients include the OPW, HSE, Department of Education and An Post as well as Mac Interiors, Sonica Fitout and Ardmac in the private sector. Turnover has increased by more than 50% over the past two years – from €5m in 2015 to €7.7m in 2017 – and direct employment is generated for a crew of 62.
“There is a shortage of skilled staff out there so, on the service side of the business, we try to grow our own. We have ten apprentices at present,” Shay reveals. “We’re not restricting ourselves to developing refrigeration, plumbing or electrical engineers, but are trying to give them much broader skillsets. Our objective is to give them a much broader understanding of mechanical systems in their entirety and we’re calling them HVAC engineers.
“We train them to our own high standards and get them to the stage where they are a good fit for the company. Two or three fully-qualified engineers are coming through that apprenticeship programme every year and they then undergo a period of induction before becoming fully-fledged members of our engineering crew.
“In early 2018, we appointed Chris Crowley as a director,” Shay continues. “Chris had worked for one of our key suppliers for many years and was a major player in the development of Mastertech. He made a herculean contribution to the formation of the new business and has now progressed to the role of commercial director of Mastertech.”
The growth figures at Masterair / Mastertech have been highly-impressive since Dubliner Shay and Wexford man Aidan become owners in 2015.
“Our objective was to have 50 staff by 2018 and we have already surpassed that. We’re still financing a hefty MBO but some of that pressure is lifting every year. Continuous growth is now pivotal to us meeting those obligations and we are greatly encouraged that this can be achieved as thus far we have exceeded all expectations in terms of growth. With each passing year, a portion of the pressure from the MBO is relieved and the company is a little better placed financially.”
Another major step down the road of becoming a complete M&E engineering contractor with the ability to provide turnkey installation and maintenance services – working predominantly on commercial and industrial heating systems at present – was taken before Christmas, 2017 with the merging of a small electrical contracting business.
“We amalgamated with M&M Electrical Contractors in partnership with Robin Mongey, who we knew through a mutual customer, The Royal College of Surgeons. We merged that into Mastertech Engineering, which is now a complete M&E contracting business, providing turnkey solutions to new builds, fit-outs, boiler rooms etc.”
A few landmark projects delivered inside the last 18 months or so include the €650,000 heating decentralisation project at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth; a HVAC upgrade on the three-storey Liberty Insurance building in Blanchardstown; and a Gemini Data Centre fit-out in Dublin 15. Masterair also hold the service and maintenance contracts for a number of prestigious state sites including The Custom House, Áras an Uachtaráin and The National Museum.
“Most of the mechanical and electrical installations work is in and around the city and surrounding counties, although we have projects ongoing in Longford and Ballinasloe at the moment,” says Shay. “On the Masterair side of it, which is the service business, we operate nationwide, with two technicians based in Cork, one covering Clare/Limerick, one in Sligo, two in the midlands and two in the South East. In total, we have over 30 service technicians on the road and operate a fleet of 36 vehicles.”
All engineers are Garda vetted, F-Gas and RGI registered, and ISO certified.
Going forward, steady growth is a stated objective in the short-to-medium term. “We’d like to constantly and sustainably grow the service business, with a clearly-defined career path for our senior staff, who we hope will grow with the company,” Shay concludes.
“We also hope to grow the M&E contracting business to 50% of overall operations and we’re aiming for turnover of close to €10m for next year. But the growth has to be sustainable and we’ll have to reinvest and make sure we manage and control it.
“We’re learning all the time. We treat every problem as an essential part of that learning process and as an opportunity to better ourselves and improve our services. One thing we don’t do is make the same mistake twice.”
Masterair Services / Mastertech Engineering,
Whitestown Business Park.
Tel: 01 4133828
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, July 2018, Vol 4 No 6