Based in Ballina, Co Mayo, Carrabine Joinery Ltd is a family-run company which has been immersed in manufacturing of joinery products for close to 40 years now. Building Ireland touched base with co-director Paul Carrabine to learn all about the ins and out of the business – from its origins to its current projects.
Business is good these days at Carrabine Joinery Ltd and the plan for Joe, Paul and Daniel Carrabine – and the rest of the team in Ballina – is to try and keep things that way right through into the future. .
Established by Joe Carrabine in the early 1980s, the company has grown from humble beginnings into one of the largest joinery manufacturers in Ireland.
Today, it employs up to 50 staff with Joe’s sons Paul and Daniel helping to head up the business with their father from its base along the Sligo Road in Ballina, Co Mayo.
Building Ireland spoke with Paul Carrabine to find out more about his thriving venture which has been servicing its clients for four decades now.
“It’s was established in the early 1980s and it’s my father Joe and myself and my brother Daniel that are the three joint directors here,” Paul outlined.
“We’d be one of the largest PVC window and door manufacturers in the country, in the top 15 anyway, everything from extrusion to frame.
“Every bit of hardware we use on our windows is stainless steel along with polyurethane gaskets. So, in Belmullet for example, with the coast and sea air constantly it’s a demon, it can make mild steel and epdm rubber’s life very short. We try to provide a window that makes it a lifetime job for our customers.”
At Carrabine Joinery Ltd, they manufacture everything on premises, with nothing bought in and sold on.
“Everything is fitted by the company’s own tradespeople and nothing is ever subcontracted knowing that the best possible job is given to the end customer with all work guaranteed. It is important to us that material is sourced locally where possible, and that we are able to continue to provide local employment, and contribute to the local economy.”
Carrabine Joinery Ltd manufactures everything from extrusion of its PVC profile from high impact virgin powder to its high energy rating double or triple glazing glass units to its specialised timber joinery work.
“We do a lot of timber restoration as well, which would be mostly sliding sashes and doors from the 18th and 19th centuries. This is also a personal specialism and something I’m extremely passionate and always learning more about,” Paul pointed out.
“We do fire doors and screens, which is a lot of our bread and butter here, and also provide aluminium windows and doors for schools, with UCD and St Joseph’s, Longford being past projects.”
Needless to say, this family-owned venture has come a long way over the past four decades or so and at the root of its success has been Joe Carrabine.
Son of a carpenter and growing up on a small family farm, Joe started off working for one of the biggest timber makers in the province before taking the decision to go out on his own.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“He comes from a farming background originally – from a small farm in Sligo – and his father worked very hard all his life as a carpenter as well before he passed away in 1996,” said his son Paul.
“My father started off making staircases in my grandfather’s shed and from there he started working with Becketts, which were one of the largest timber makers in Connacht at that time.
“So, he opened up a workshop in a shed at the back of a café in the 70s and from there he purchased property a few years later in the town, a former brewery and converted it into a working joinery which had a yard for loading trucks and meant the business was able to grow that bit further. 33 years ago he bought the premises on the Sligo Road and built it up over the years.
“We’ve invested heavily in this premises down through the years and today it’s second to none.”
Operating from state-of-the-art premises allows Carrabine Joinery to achieve best quality control to its standard and also manufacture and deliver the best product at the right price for the customer.
Even in these unprecedented times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for the company’s products is as high as it’s ever been.
“I suppose Covid hit and that probably scared us initially… we opted to retain the staff that we had as employees but like everyone else, we didn’t know what to expect,” Paul stated.
“As it ended up, we actually got very busy because you had people sitting at home seeing what needed to be done with their houses and, like that, doors quadrupled for us here and additional staff had to be taken on to cope with demand once factory restrictions lifted
“There was a period where we only had essential work during Covid but, at the moment, the market is huge.”
Indeed, the work seems to be coming thick and fast with a number of different projects lined up for the next couple of months.
“St Mary’s Secondary School in Ballina would be a local one for us right now and then we have the Mary Robinson Centre in Ballina, which is another restoration project for us,” Paul outlined.
“We’ve two major projects in Dublin that are due to start next year and we’re also doing a lot of energy schemes for different clients as well as a lot of residential, so we’re kept busy at the moment.”
All of that considered, the burning question is what has been the secret to success for Carrabine Joinery Ltd over the past 40 years?
For Paul, delivering diverse products of high quality on a consistent basis has had a lot to do with it, in addition to continuous development, word of mouth spreads fast!
“I think, first off, a lot of it comes down to the quality of product we’re producing,” said the co-director.
“We’re very stringent on that. It has to be top class when it leaves the factory gate. We’re a large outfit, with everything done in-house, so turnaround can be very quick, next day in some cases, depending on complexity.
“There’s also the bespoke side of things as well. We can be flexible on designs and parts for customer demand.
“We do very little advertising, everything has being word of mouth so far, and we’ve always had a good reputation for our work down through the years.”
Looking towards the coming months for the business, Paul is keen for the company his father built to keep on growing with new productions currently in the works.
“We’re one of the largest family-owned employers in the town, so the plan is to grow that, and we are always learning and keeping up with the latest industry best practices. We want to get the skill set into the youth here, and I have also recently gained BFRC accreditation, allowing me to perform certifications for thermal ratings in houses.
“We have a complete new automated double and triple-glazing production line installed along with a new glass cutting line which has seen us make an investment of close to a million Euro, ensuring we can maintain a competitive advantage, and safeguarding for the future.
“Production should start on that line in the next few weeks.”
Carrabine Joinery Ltd
Tel: 096 22147
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, November 2021, Vol 7 No 11