Since its inception in 1998, Feraco Ltd. has established itself as one of Ireland’s premier carpentry subcontractors, delivering solutions to a veritable who’s who of main contractors on a wide range of prestigious projects nationwide. Building Ireland spoke to founder / managing director Gabriel Glavin to find out more.
Specialising in first- and second-fix joinery, Feraco Ltd. offers a full range of general carpentry (architrave, doors, window boards, floor boards, skirting, etc.), kitchen and wardrobe, decking, attic conversion and roofing and cladding solutions to the commercial and residential sectors.
Founder / proprietor Gabriel Glavin works regularly with large firms such as Stewarts, JJ Rhatigan and Kilcawley Construction and has built up a superb reputation in the construction industry across Ireland. As he also has extensive experience of delivering construction projects first hand, the Galway man appreciates fully what a main contractor expects from a carpentry subcontractor.
Having worked in carpentry for years prior to then, Gabriel formed the company 20 years ago alongside his wife, Bernie. “I started off in the residential side and continued doing mainly residential work up until the recession hit,” he reflects. “I also did some commercial carpentry as well and got experience of general construction, doing houses and commercial buildings.
“For the last ten years, however, we have been more or less exclusively focussed on carpentry subcontracting. We also do the occasional private home, although we don’t really have the time for those at the moment, to be honest.”
Feraco has found its niche and has carved out an enviable reputation for exceptionally high levels of workmanship, resulting in a steady stream of repeat business from leading contractors island-wide. From secondary schools, primary schools, Gaelscoils and third-level institutions (such as UCG, NUIG and the College of Agriculture), churches and cathedrals, public buildings, commercial premises including major retailers such as Primark and Aldi, to house extensions / refurbs, Feraco has become the go-to carpentry subcontractor of choice across the education, commercial, industrial, retail, residential and refurbishment sectors throughout Connacht, the midlands and into Munster and the capital.
For JJ Rhatigan, they carried out carpentry contracting on NUIG’s stunning new 429-unit student accommodation facility, which has been completed time for the new third-level term.
“We’ve worked on more than 20 Aldi stores for Stewarts, working inside and out, on the canopies and general carpentry. We’ve carried out a lot of public work on schools and re-roofed The Hanging Gardens in Limerick for Rhatigans. Indeed, we’ve done a few renovation projects like that for the conservation office,” Gabriel reveals.
“We’ve been taking on a good bit of roofing / conservation work recently. We completed a roofing and renovation job on the church in Knock ahead of the pope’s visit and also worked on the refurbishment of St Nathy’s Cathedral in Ballaghaderreen.”
For any contractor or subcontractor, it was an achievement in itself to come through the recession that brought the property boom to a shuddering halt. “The recession didn’t stop us but it impacted everybody,” Gabriel recalls. “We were forced to scale down. A lot of the workforce emigrated, while myself and one other lad worked through it and we gradually worked our way out of it.”
By applying himself to every job and continuing to enhance his reputation for excellence, Gabriel navigated a decidedly treacherous marketplace and has since grown the workforce back up to an impressive 20, all of whom are highly-skilled. Regarding the catchment area covered, the MD notes: “We prefer to stay west of the Shannon but you follow the work and look after your clients.
“We did all the carpentry on rapid-build schools in Claregalway and Clifden in Galway, while Tegral rainscreen cladding and coloured panels is another area we specialise in.”
As well as regular partners Rhatigan, Stewarts and Kilcawley, Feraco has also worked for the likes of Sisk and Elliott on projects from the capital to Waterford city.
Having come through a volatile two decades for the construction industry, Feraco is clearly doing a lot of things right. To what does Gabriel attribute the enduring viability and ongoing success of the business?
“Working with the client is a big thing. On any contract, there will be time constraints and you have to work to their schedule and make sure you have enough men to meet the programme. You have to stick with it, see it through and deliver the contact on time and within budget.
“Quality is just as important as speed. The quality simply has to be there, so my aim on every job is to deliver quality but also to work fast. To do both takes a lot of skill but I’m lucky to have a core of lads here who have been with me for six or seven years and they are the heartbeat of the company. I’m hands-on myself and I keep a close eye on things but you also need good men with you and the lads here are excellent.”
Have the boom times returned? “Certainly not in the west of Ireland or in Galway. There are plenty of 20- and 30-metre cranes in Dublin but it hasn’t really taken off again in Galway yet. Cork and Limerick also seem to be a lot busier than Galway, so we’re having to travel for work.”
All in all, Feraco is in a strong position going forward, although the company founder is anything but complacent: “One challenge that I can envisage coming down the line is a shortage of labour because very few young people have taken up trades like carpentry, plumbing or plastering. There’s are very few lads coming through. I actually know men who are qualified carpenters, plasterers and blocklayers, who are working in factories and don’t want to risk coming out of them. They are comfortable where they are and are wary of another crash.”
Having said that, carpentry is a unique skill, almost like an art form in its own right. There will always be individuals who are drawn to it, just as Gabriel Glavin has been: “I enjoy my job and there is great variation in it,” he concludes. “There are a lot of different aspects to carpentry and if you can keep a hand in all of them, it’s interesting and enjoyable. Obviously it can be stressful when you are trying to meet a deadline but I embrace that challenge and take a great deal of personal satisfaction and pride from going back two or three years later and being able to say ‘we did that job’.”
Tel: 087 252 7841
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, November 2018, Vol 4 No 10