A global leader in superior quality commercial custom joinery and wooden acoustic panelling, Woodfit combines expertise across acoustics and woodcraft, serving markets around the world from its world-class manufacturing facility in Athlone, County Westmeath. Building Ireland touched base with MD Anthony Denby to get an update on this outstanding family-run operation, which is celebrating 40 years in business.
Founded by Jim Denby in 1979, Woodfit Ltd. – comprising Woodfit Joinery and Woodfit Acoustics – has evolved into one of the leading specialist joineries and bespoke furniture manufacturers and custom joinery not just in Ireland but across the continents. Renowned internationally for the high level of quality delivered on largescale projects, the company has expanded into markets in the Middle East, India, South America and beyond.
“We already had a strong presence in the Middle East, South America and UK markets but we’ve also recently expanded into Singapore, Vietnam and Egypt,” MD Anthony Denby confirms. The landmark contract secured in Egypt is particularly fascinating:
“We’ve been given the contract to manufacture and install a new opera house in the ‘new capital’ of Egypt, which is located 45km east of Cairo. They’re building a brand-new 40 sq km capital city in the middle of the desert and we’ve been awarded a number of new projects there, the new opera house being the most prestigious.
“It’s a massive site, where there’ll be 7,000 people in total employed during construction. We’re providing a complete turnkey package including all the joinery, floors, doors, acoustic panels, etc. This is one of the largest projects we’ve taken on to date. We’ll go on site in November and we’ll be sending over five men to oversee a crew of 60 installers. The contract will run for twelve months and all the bespoke joinery and furniture will be manufactured here in Athlone and securely shipped to Egypt. A total of 55 containers will be shipped for that one room alone.
“Egypt are also building a new Central Bank and we’re in negotiations for that as well, having successfully delivered a full joinery package for the Central Bank in Dublin for Walls, while we’re also currently in negotiations for the new parliament building in Laos.”
Providing the keenest attention to detail and exceptional craftsmanship even on the most complex of structures, Woodfit provide turnkey wooden interior fit-out solutions – including wooden acoustic panelling, doors and furniture – to a complete range of major commercial projects both domestically and internationally. All sectors of construction are accommodated, from education and healthcare to finance, churches, auditoriums, government buildings, courthouses, commercial premises, opera houses, workplaces and hospitality and leisure.
Having earned an unrivalled reputation for the highest levels of skill and craftsmanship, Woodfit has developed from a manufacturer of bespoke kitchen cabinets into a world renowned specialist fabricator. The growth and progression of the business has been built on three cornerstones: quality, dependability and innovation.
Quality products, incorporating expertise across acoustical engineering and design, are designed and manufactured with precision and consistently produced to the same high standard.
Since 2005, Woodfit Acoustics has been applying its considerable experience and expertise to creating spaces that sound as good as they look. The company has developed a superior range of wooden acoustic panels providing standard and customised solutions to clients around the world.
“The business is going from strength to strength,” Anthony confirms. “We’ve invested in a lot of new equipment over the past two years and have updated anything that was older. We now have the latest cutting-edge equipment and software and we’ve been able to expand into markets in a number of different countries as well as maintaining a strong presence in the Irish market.”
Indeed, the domestic market is by no means an afterthought. It continues to be a key driver in the business and Woodfit enjoys strong relationships with a who’s who of Tier One main contractors delivering world-class, bespoke joinery solutions to landmark projects across the capital and island-wide.
Some recent projects for Sisk include Arthur Cox, Santander and The Curragh Racecourse as well as the Central Bank, AIB Digital Hub, Linked In, for Walls. Woodfit also provided bespoke joinery solutions at Lansdowne Place, The Hanging Gardens in Limerick, the Special Olympics Ireland HQ for Rhattigan and on four PPP Courts for BAM as well as Waterford University Hospital. Other landmark works include Facebook, the VIP areas in Kildare Village, Kildangan Stud, DCU Students Hub and Clongowes College.
At the time of writing, projects were also up and running in Kuwait, Oman, Dubai and Saudi Arabia, with direct gainful employment generated for 50 highly-skilled and vastly-experienced personnel from Woodfit’s state-of-the-art Athlone joinery. “We benefit from a low turnover of staff and some of the men who were here when my father started the business up in 1979 are still involved,” Anthony points out.
“We also have a lot of graduates from Letterfrack and we have a strong relationship with them. We try to take on as many of those guys as we can when they come out of college.”
As well as investing substantially in equipment, Woodfit also uses the latest software, including Revit 3D and Alphacam, to complete the most intricate work, professionally and precisely. “The systems we have in place are second to none and organisation key, with floor managers, floor supervisors and the highest levels of quality control. The finished products go on purpose containers and are very carefully packed and handled to make absolutely certain that they are undamaged when they arrive on site.”
While remarkable growth has been experienced by the company, Anthony believes a period of consolidation could be imminent for Woodfit despite constantly rising demand: “We can’t get too big. There’s only so much you can manufacture, particularly when you are engaged on complicated projects. It’s difficult to get qualified craftspeople and you are restricted by the unavailability of labour when it comes to carrying out customised work like concert halls and opera houses.
“We’re working out of 60,000 sq ft and we’re at full capacity with the work we have on,” the personable MD concludes. “The only way we could take on more work would be to expand again but we’re happy with where we’re at right now and it’s manageable, which is important. We have a good reputation in the markets we’re in and it’s all repeat business, so our main focus going forward will be to make sure we maintain the high standards we’re renowned for.”
Tel: +353 (0) 90 6478555
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, October, Vol 5 No 10