Based in Cork, Engage Construction is a contracting and construction management company which offers services that cover the full spectrum of construction activities. Building Ireland touched base with its Managing Director, Eoghan O’Shea to find out more about this young and thriving business.
These past four years have flown by for Eoghan O’Shea and the team at Engage Construction are primed to continue the company’s growth despite recent Covid-19 disruption to the industry.
“I grew up in a family construction business,” Eoghan explains. “I started working on sites during school holidays from a young age. They were different times; it was hard work, but we had fantastic fun along the way. I have some great memories of the characters and craic from those early days. The industry has changed immeasurably over the past thirty years – mostly for the better – however, I think that it is important that we strive to maintain an enjoyable working environment for everyone involved in our projects. We are lucky to work in an industry that produces a significant physical end product in relatively short time frames, there is great job satisfaction available in what we do, and it is no harm in having plenty of craic along the way.”
Legacy is a big motivator for Eoghan. “My father, Jim O’Shea, made a great success of his career. He was reared on a small farm in South Kerry and, like many rural families in Ireland at the time, they did not have much to play with at home. Dad managed to secure a scholarship to study Civil Engineering in Cork, and after a few years working, he established a successful civils contracting business, McGinty & O’Shea, with Fintan McGinty. A real self-made man, he casts a long shadow in our house and is a hard act to follow. A big part of what drives me is to prove to myself that I can achieve something similar in my career. His mantra ‘If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right’ used to drive me mad, but it often rings in my ears these days.”
Engage Construction has always aspired to exceed the expectations of its clients and has moved to quickly build a best-in-class reputation for value delivery across all of its projects. While open to work in all areas, Eoghan has been targeting Life Science sector projects with Engage Construction.
“Before I set up Engage, I was lucky to work for a few years in client-side roles on Life Science sector building projects,” Eoghan outlined. “It was a steep learning curve, getting to grips with the bewildering myriad of procedures, systems and acronyms encountered in the sector, particularly coming from a public works civils background as I did. However I loved it, and I lapped it up. I felt that there was an unmet niche demand for smaller construction companies who could offer a low overhead cost base coupled with deep Life Science capital project management experience and capabilities. These can be intensive projects, which typically require a large number of specialist discipline contractors to deliver. In addition, they are often set in constrained GxP environments, a strong project management focus is key. I think that Engage presents a competitive, high quality, option to our clients when compared to other, prelim-heavy, Tier 1 contractors.
“We’re based in Cork and established four years now,” Eoghan continues. “We are bidding projects ranging up to €10m value. We have completed Stage 1 certification of our management systems to 45001 & 9001 standards and hope to complete Stage 2 by the end of Q2, once sites reopen. We are very lucky with our team, they have high standards and are vested in our goal to achieve a reputation for best in class performance. People are everything, and building out this team is a key goal for 2021. We need to ensure that we get the right staff, with a similar ethos, on board to work with us towards pushing the company onto the next phase.”
Today, Eoghan heads up a company which holds a proven track record of management of capital projects for public and private sector clients. Projects delivered by the company to date include General Building, Fit Out, Civil Engineering, Construction Management and PSCS Support Services. Clients include several confidential clients, Local Authorities, Education & Training Boards, Gilead Sciences, Musgraves, DePuy Synthes, DuPont, Jones Engineering, ESS Modular, Essentra and Tandem Project Management.
Business is good, according to Eoghan, even in these unprecedented times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. Engage Construction had one of its busiest years in 2020 in spite of the lockdowns and government restrictions which were enforced in order to try and combat the spread of the virus.
While the first lockdown between March and May of last year saw its projects shutdown overnight, the company has been busy ever since, even with the latest restrictions which allow for essential works.
“We did very well in 2020 despite the pandemic,” Eoghan pointed out. “We’ve been busy since May 18th last year, when the first lockdown was lifted, but have just endured a difficult three months waiting for the commencement of three decent non-essential projects which, to be honest, has been very frustrating.”
Engage Construction continues to be open to opportunities across all sectors and it is part of the reason why this venture has had such a success story in such a relatively short space of time.
As for what Eoghan feels the secret to success so far has been, he has always felt that gaining the trust of clients goes a long way in this particular game.
“We’re getting a lot of repeat business from the Pharma clients that we have,” he said. “We like to work with, rather than against, our clients. Life is too short for fighting – fostering good working relationships with project delivery teams towards shared success is another key goal for us. This approach reaps rewards, clients come back to us because of our collaborative attitude, and the fact that they know we can do the work to a high standard. They know that we will deliver for them.”
What more could a client ask for?
Looking towards the coming months for the business, Eoghan is confident that Engage Construction can continue its growth once the green light is given by the government to return to all construction projects.
Ever the optimist, Eoghan is hopeful that they can recruit new members to the team at Engage Construction soon and that business can continue to move forward like it has been since inception four years ago.
“We’re a small company, but we have big ambitions,” he said, “My hope is that things will open back up soon after recent Covid-19 restrictions, that we can get back to work on all of our projects and to keep building our team here for the future.”
Given the company’s track record thus far, there won’t be many betting against it.
Old Blarney Rd,
E-mail: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, August, Vol 7 No 8