Getting to know…Darragh O’Driscoll

Darragh O’Driscoll

WITH origins dating back to the 1950s, McHale Plant Sales is regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost machinery distributors. The firm’s portfolio of applications gives it a presence in the construction, civil works, forestry, agriculture and waste sectors.

In 2015, the company was appointed Metso Outotec distributors in Ireland, a brief later extended to include Northern Ireland. Its remit was extended further with the announcement in January of its appointment as UK distributors for Metso Outotec mobile crushers in England, Scotland and Wales – a move that has seen the business open its first UK depot on the Lichfield Road Industrial Estate in Tamworth, with a plan to open a second outlet in Scotland next year.

Headquartered in the village of Birdhill, near Limerick, McHale has a second base on Ireland’s east-coast at Rathcoole, on the southern edge of Dublin. Project Plant recently spoke with the company’s business development director, Darragh O’Driscoll.

Q) Does the prospect of servicing markets as geographically spread as Scotland, England and Wales not frighten you?

A) Truthfully ‘no’. Naturally, we gave the possibility great thought before committing ourselves. However, when one thinks about it, the customers we will meet in the UK are made from the same stock as those we are accustomed to working with in Ireland – quarry owners, aggregates producers and civil works contractors.

We know what their needs are, and we know the pressure points and the demands that will be placed upon us. The critical requirements that will present relate to the availability and distribution of parts and the provision of back-up technical support, in house and on-site. In these and in all other matters, we can draw upon our own resources and the resources of Metso Outotec.

Q) What will be the approach that UK customers can expect from you?

A) Hopefully, an approach that will meet their expectations…an approach embedded in our people, and one proven in our operations in Ireland.

In simple terms, we avoid bureaucracy in the company and we are open to ideas from all our company employees with a view to finding solutions to our customers’ business needs. Sales, service and parts merit equal attention and work together to serve our customers. The same culture extends into other corners of our business. We are proud of our company and self-motivated in ensuring that its reputation is safeguarded in all respects.

Q) Why have you chosen Tamworth as your base?

A) Because it is well located and has the accommodation we require – the office accommodation, warehouse capacity, visitor and machinery parking compounds, and storage space in which to stock sufficient spare parts to meet normal demands.

Adjacent to main roads and motorways, it is also well placed from a logistics and distribution viewpoint.

Q) You have announced plans to open a base in Scotland. When will it come on stream?

A) Next year, all going well. Recognising the importance that proximity and access to customers has, we already have ‘feelers’ out in our quest to find a suitable premises in Scotland with no hard and fast notions yet as to where that base should be.

Q) Coming from Ireland, are you expecting to have any ‘teething’ troubles?

A) Yes…lots of them! However, ours is a ‘can do’ company, adaptable in meeting difficulties and implementing solutions.

Facing the very natural challenges that our work in the UK will present, we will draw on our experience with Metso Outotec in Ireland, and on the experience of the team we are building in the UK, to offer the levels of service that customers require in order to meet their own business needs and deadlines.

Q) How did you initially break into the plant industry?

A) It was not your typical journey into the plant and equipment industry. I worked for 15 years in financial services with AIB Bank. I enjoyed my time with AIB but by 2016 I was looking for a change to get more directly involved in business rather than analysing and lending into business.

An opportunity arose in McHale Plant Sales for a commercial manager; the role looked exciting and after a couple of meetings with the company owners, Michael (McHale) and Tim (Shanahan), they offered me the job and things have progressed well since then, despite some challenges such as Covid.

My role is varied, working closely with our suppliers, colleagues and customers managing the supply chain, equipment pricing, sourcing and developing new finance channels, looking to enhance our own processes and systems as well as key business development projects such as our expansion into the UK with Metso Outotec.

Q) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

A) “A pat on the back is only 18 inches from a kick in the pants!”

I think the message is to avoid getting carried away with yourself after a success, to keep working hard and to keep your feet on the ground!

Q) Any funny anecdotes from your career?

A) None suitable for print!

Q) How do you relax when you’re not working?

A) I’m interested in all sports. I still play some hurling and golf when the schedule of three kids permits! Movies, reading and good food are always a favourite way to unwind.