Murphy and Kelly (Thomastown) Ltd. is a privately-owned family business that has been providing exceptional mechanical contracting solutions to the commercial and industrial sectors for more than three decades. We popped into their County Kilkenny base and met up with founder / MD Denis Kelly to find out more about this outstanding operation with a personal touch.
In business since 1985, Murphy and Kelly (Thomastown) Ltd. are market-leading mechanical services contractors who serve as a one-stop shop specialising in the supply and installation of heating, plumbing, ventilation, air conditioning, renewable energy, oil and gas systems.
Denis Kelly is co-founder, director and proprietor of the company. Boasting comprehensive knowledge of all things relating to mechanical services, he oversees all projects personally to ensure that they are completed efficiently and to the highest standard.
Over the years, nay decades, Murphy and Kelly (Thomastown) Ltd. have provided their expertise to a veritable host of projects within the education, catering, retail, medical, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, including schools, colleges, hotels, nursing homes, factories, etc.
Examples include the complete installation of water services, soils and waste drainage, compressed air, gas, Lphw heating, M&E coordination and all associated controls for an extension to Carlow Avionics for Mythen Construction; and the same services in addition to air handling units and ventilation, air conditioning, boiler house and plant rooms, biomass boilers and BMS controls at the Moy Valley Hotel – a new build comprising 120 bedrooms, leisure centre, conference centre, meeting rooms, function rooms and kitchen facilities – for MOF Construction Ltd.
In keeping with the demands of a world that never stops, refurbishment works are generally carried out in a live environment, where the building stays open and in constant use without any interference or disturbance to workers, guests, customers or patients.
Murphy and Kelly (Thomastown) Ltd. pride themselves on being trustworthy and efficient, with a long-standing client base including some of the largest main contractors in the country as well as direct work for clients (including Health Boards etc.).
Reflecting on the genesis and early days of the company, the managing director notes: “I started up in 1985 alongside Eamonn Murphy, who has since retired. We progressed gradually over the years. Initially, we worked in the Kilkenny / Carlow / Wexford area but we are nationwide now.”
In the early days, the founders provided steady work to a crew of seven or eight; today, gainful employment is directly generated for 42 men. At the time of writing, Denis and his team were busy working on projects in Dublin, Cork and Athlone, including St James Hospital for main contractor Clancy.
The success of the business over the past 31 years and counting can be attributed to the fact that high-quality, professional solutions are provided across a wide range of mechanical services, with all work carried out in-house from start to completion.
“We offer the complete package,” Denis confirms. “We manufacture all of our own sheet metal ventilation systems, which a lot of companies don’t do, and we have full control over everything, which gives us an edge on the competition.
“We also have a small office staff in comparison to our turnover and we run a close-knit operation, with modest overheads compared to other companies our size. This is reflected in our price and enables us to be extremely competitive.”
Denis detects definite growth within the construction industry, although rates and margins remain low. “The sector is on the up again this year. It’s not reflected in prices but in the amount of work. Unfortunately, 2008/09 rates still apply, but the level of enquiries is up.”
As for what would constitute the ideal size of project, the Kilkenny man adds: “We take on anything, large or small. I suppose I’d be aiming at projects between €500,000 and €1.5m and we do a lot of work in that category, but we also do a lot of €100,000 projects and in April we finished work with a mechanical value of €3.2m on an extension to St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny [main contractor Walls Construction].
“The level of sophistication and standards in the sector have gone up and you have to embrace those changes and work as part of a team. We have a full-time CAD office now, which is a must if you want to provide mechanical service at the very highest level.”
Needless to say, in order to achieve optimal results, Murphy and Kelly (Thomastown) Ltd. uses only the finest workers – but how difficult is it to find good men in the wake of the wave of emigration that followed the collapse of the economy? “It is difficult to get decent tradesmen,” Denis confirms.
“But we’re very lucky to have a hard-core crew with us since Day One and we look after them and keep them on our team. They are all highly-trained, experienced and motivated, while I call to all the sites regularly myself to make absolutely sure that everything continues to be done to the very highest standards.”
Looking to the future, Denis says growth would be welcome but not if it means standards are compromised: “I would like to grow the business a little bit more but you have to be careful to get the right balance between what you want and what you can service,” he concludes. “We won’t be increasing our turnover if it means quality is going to suffer. Sustaining high quality is priority number one.”
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, August 2016, Vol 2 No 4