Exceptional employee Tommy Nolan of Topline Clearys Hardware in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary was shortlisted in the new Rising Star category at the Octabuild Builders Excellence Awards. We took a trip to Tipp and caught up with Tommy to find out more about the business and his deserved nomination for a prestigious national award.
The all-new Rising Star Award at the Octabuild Builders Merchant Excellence Awards 2019 was introduced to recognise and encourage upcoming talent in the builders merchants industry. Open to any staff member under the age of 30, merchants were invited to nominate individuals who had performed above and beyond expectations in their business, the community and in their day-to-day dealings with customers.
Having excelled in delivering all aspects of his duties since joining the business three years ago, Tommy Nolan had his name put forward by senior management at Topline Clearys, Carrick-on-Suir. To the delight of Tommy and everybody who serves alongside him on the Clearys team, he was one of 13 people from around the country to make the shortlist for the prestigious awards ceremony which was hosted in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Thursday, November 7th.
“Learning that I had been nominated was a nice surprise to get coming into work on a Tuesday morning,” he recalls. “I really enjoy being part of the team here in Clearys; it’s a great place to work.
“I came here originally on a social welfare scheme and did nine months, at the end of which they offered me a full-time job. I was delighted to accept and have got a good knowledge of the business from my colleagues and suppliers.”
Tommy was nominated for the award by business owner John Phelan, upon the recommendation of store manager Conor Parle. He’s one of seven full-time and three part-time team members at the busy, customer-friendly Carrick-on-Suir builders merchants.
“Customer service is extremely important,” he notes. “When a customer explains to you what they need, then you have to go out of your way to meet their needs. If they are unsure, then you have to be able to give them the proper advice and guide them in the right direction. Even if I’m not 100% sure about something myself, then I’d talk to the other guys and make sure we provide all our customers with the right products and the best possible service.”
Octabuild have been acknowledging the best in the builders merchant trade for 35 years. The Octabuild awards were revamped this year with a renewed focus on excellence that reflects the modern builders merchant sector in terms of business management, customer service, sales & marketing, innovation, leadership, diversity, partnership and communication.
The genesis of the Rising Star Award is a worthy addition to what has become a night of celebration of the very best that builders merchants in Ireland offer.
Established in 1984, Octabuild is a unique organisation – representing member companies Dulux, Glennon Brothers, Gyproc, Instantor, Irish Cement, Kingspan Insulation, Tegral Building Products and Wavin – which strives to promote the benefits of high-quality, Irish-manufactured products for the building, construction and DIY sectors. Every year, their Builders Merchants Excellence Awards celebrate the cream of the personnel and stores at the heart of Ireland’s vital and thriving builders merchants industry.
Providing their customers with a comprehensive range of building supplies and service levels to match, Tommy Nolan and Topline Clearys were more than deserving of their place in this esteemed company.
As well as all the building supplies that could possibly be needed to build a house from top to bottom, Clearys also stock cleaning & storage supplies, garden & outdoors equipment, tools and hardware, appliances, lighting, windows, doors and floors as well as meeting all painting / décor, kitchen, bathroom, plumbing and heating needs. Topline Clearys in Carrick-on-Suir was originally called Robert Cleary & Sons and operated from a premises on the quays for a number of years.
The business was then sold to the Kerr family from Ardee, County Louth, who ran it successfully for a number of years. During their stewardship, the business moved premises from its original location to its current site on the Clonmel Road. A major revamp project upgraded the premises in the mid-2000s to offer customers an improved shopping experience.
In 2012, the Kerr family sold the business to John Phelan & Co. in Laois (who also owns Topline Phelans in Durrow, County Laois and Topline Phelans in Ballyragget, County Kilkenny) and the business continues to go from strength to strength.
As a member of the Topline group, Topline Clearys benefit from the buying power of over 150 independent hardware retailers throughout the country, allowing them to compete successfully with larger builders providers. The Topline group also provides access to invaluable training, development and marketing.
At the very heart of the business, the staff come from all the surrounding areas including Carrick-on-Suir, Clonmel, Piltown and Waterford, helping Topline Clearys to service all these areas.
Every staff member boasts years of experience in the hardware trade and is well equipped to help with all queries and needs. To meet the every-growing needs of all shoppers in the community, Topline Clearys stock a vast range of housewares, hardware and DIY products.
Long known as a builders providers to the local trade, they continue to provide a versatile and comprehensive range of products, stocking all the items required to carry out that extension or build a new home whilst also catering for smaller jobs – everything from a screwdriver to a plug, bulb or paintbrush.
In recent years, the product range has been expanded to include doors and floors, bathrooms, electrical goods, cleaning products and detergents and a large range of other household products.
“We cover a wide catchment area and if something isn’t in stock then we can get it very quickly from our suppliers or one of the other stores,” Tommy continues. “You are always working together with builders to help them out and to make sure they benefit from trade prices. We strive to keep them all happy and to be as competitive price-wise as possible. They are looking for quality products, the best value for money and professional, friendly service … if you can tick all of those boxes then you won’t go far wrong.”
As product controller and stock controller, Tommy makes sure that customers have quick access to whatever they need, keeping a close eye on the fast-moving products to ensure that they are always in stock. By keeping a list of the Top 100 and Top 25 products, he always stays on top of things.
“You never know everything and there is always plenty you can learn from somebody else,” concludes the popular Waterford man, who has been living in Carrick-on-Suir for the past five years. “When I went up to the Octabuild Awards, I was interested in meeting others and hearing their stories. You can take a lot from that. It was a great experience and one I’ll never forget.”
Carrick on Suir,
Tel: 051 640034
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, December 2019/January 2020, Vol 5 No 11