Gaeltec Utilities, a leading specialist firm employing over 300 direct staff, continues to achieve sustainable growth, as it delivers value for high-profile clients on major engineering projects across Ireland and mainland Europe.
The company is renowned for its engineering excellence and consistency in delivering specialist contracting services for major utility companies and multinational corporations across the energy and telecommunication sectors.
Gaeltec remains on course to meet its strategic objective in terms of internationalisation as it executes a well-defined growth strategy. 2018 was another successful year for the Kilkenny-based business, as it harnessed a number of new markets that have all contributed to year-on-year growth.
Since its establishment in 2003, Gaeltec has steadily developed a strong brand, and its client base is a testament to the quality and reliability of services delivered by the team. This predominantly includes semi-state companies, large scale utilities and multinational corporations, including ESB Networks, Bord Na Móna, Coillte, ESB Wind Development, Scottish Power Energy Networks, Defence Forces, SIRO – the ESB and Vodafone Joint Venture Company – as well a number of blue chip companies, including the tech giant Facebook.
“The vast majority of our business is with a very strong client base,” says Executive Director, Declan Wynne. “However, we also deliver smaller projects and engineering services for smaller private developers, mainly associated with grid connection projects for renewable schemes.”
Strong Gaeltec partnerships
Gaeltec prides the business on successful partnerships. Wynne says, “We consistently work with a partnering ethos, which is centred on trust. This has become a key component of the company culture. We have a very high rate of repeat business and we invest in evolving in line with client needs.
“Gaeltec has developed a very strong partnership with ESB Networks over the past sixteen years, delivering essential energy infrastructural projects on the transmission and distribution system across the country under long-term framework contracts, and has built a number of large scale projects internationally for ESB Wind Development. A similar relationship has developed with Scottish Power in the UK, where major framework contracts are in place on both overhead lines and substations. Flexibility and responsiveness have always been to the fore, which has proven to be successful for us for many years. Thankfully, we have successfully exported this trend to overseas markets over the past nine years.”
The specialist service provider operates in a niche area. However, it is clear from speaking to Wynne that Gaeltec is a business that has great passion for excellence. He says, “Although we operate in a very specialist area, we focus greatly on people; their application, their commitment, their passion for world-class workmanship, and their desire for excellence in everything they do. Technical skills and competence is baseline; attitude and application is what differentiates.”
International development and strategy
Growth and expansion have been prevalent for Gaeltec in recent years. Since its formation, the business has developed organically by constantly improving and developing services offered.
In 2018, Ireland’s construction sector was responsible for €2 billion worth of exports, generating opportunities for companies like his, says Wynne. However, he continues, “Our corporate strategy is very much about controlled sustainable growth. Having the ability and discipline to say no is essential. We all need to understand our capacity and take very measured decisions in terms of growth.”
Wynne credits the support and role of Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency, in helping to create such opportunities aboard.
At the recent launch of the CIF Top 50 Contractors, Gaeltec was ranked at 36 overall and positioned at number 23 in the Top 30 Exporters, placing at number 13 in the Top Mechanical and Electrical Contractors. The firm has been successfully delivering large scale prestigious projects in Scandinavia and other European markets in recent years, establishing a very strong footprint in markets that will be central to their continued growth.
Engineering excellence has always been the mantra for the Gaeltec team. While they continue to work on flagship projects in their field and partner with the most sought-after clients, the entire team consistently strives for improvement.
Wynne comments, “We recently revisited our strategy by setting out our 2023 Strategic Plan. Our team has a well-defined execution plan to achieve our corporate objectives. Down through the years, we have managed to reinforce our position in the marketplace by strengthening our offering and we continue to use this principal. Adding value is pivotal; we have managed to nurture a culture that has a natural appetite for risk reduction, continued improvement, innovation, smart adaption and utilisation of technologies, including digital construction, all of which enhances our overall offering.”
The Gaeltec name is prevalent on major infrastructural projects both nationally and internationally. The firm successfully delivered fibre optic broadband infrastructure to thousands of homes and premises across Ireland in 2018 as part of their contract with SIRO, and continues to deliver services across the country. Similar telecommunication service contracts have been successfully delivered in the UK as part of the BDUK rollout.
In the energy sector, Gaeltec continues to work on critical transmission and distribution infrastructure for major utility companies across a number of markets. It has recently delivered the first ever privately built 220 kV substation and grid connection on the island of Ireland for a tech giant.
The company has also delivered similar projects across Europe for tech companies and was involved in the construction of the largest offshore wind farm development in the world for Ørsted (formerly Dong Energy), off the east coast of England.
Gaeltec will soon complete a design and build contract for a semi-state joint venture company in Ireland comprising of ESB and Bord Na Mona, as the first phase of the development of the largest onshore wind farm in Ireland nears completion in Co. Mayo.
Delivering mission critical projects for multinationals across Europe
Gaeltec currently has offices in Ireland, the UK, Portugal and Scandinavia.
“We are very well established in the UK market and have developed long-term relationships with key clients there,” Wynne comments. “We are also doing very well in Scandinavia and mainland Europe. We are working on a number of very significant projects there and we see a positive future within the region.”
Gaeltec’s ability to offer key clients reliable, tailored and flexible services has been a key factor in its growth story. “We deliver complex projects for public and private sector clients across Ireland and Europe. Many of these are fast-track mission critical infrastructural projects, which require extensive engineering experience and expertise,” says Wynne.
The ability to deliver these projects is due to the quality of the Gaeltec team, according to Wynne. The team comprises highly qualified engineering professionals across various disciplines, including electrical, mechanical, and civil. The in-house team is backed up by highly skilled technicians and field staff with an exceptional track record in the delivery of complex schemes.
Those world-class standards are exemplified by the company’s deep expertise in providing reliable power connections to the data centre sector.
“Data centres have very large power demands,” says Wynne. “The high tech companies that own the hyperscale data centres have very ambitious environmental agendas in terms of renewable energy usage and require very reliable network connections. They also demand the very latest in lean construction techniques and the utilisation of digital construction platforms.
“In the main, they are US blue chip companies like Facebook, who insist on world-class building standards for these mission critical projects,” he adds. “We use the very latest construction technologies and engineering systems and take full responsibility for the design and build of the power connection. The work we are doing today is powering not alone the client but future generations.”
The company’s international success is firmly rooted in its domestic track record, according to Wynne. “We have grown with our clients,” he says. “We pride ourselves on building very close partnerships with clients. Those relationships are based on trust, as well as on our ability to achieve outcomes and deliver for them. This has led many clients to bring us abroad to work on other projects for them. We also work overseas for utilities such as ESB International.”
Looking to the future, he believes Gaeltec’s continued success will be firmly based on its people and on innovation.
“Our main asset is our people and their passion,” he says. “Our success is down to the knowledge and expertise of our individual employees working as a collective, and their passion for world-class workmanship. Our delivery model is based on in-house expertise; we are not reliant on external competence that we cannot control. All of the key skills and capabilities required to deliver are retained in-house. Even during the recession, we took a strategic decision to retain our key people and continue to invest in them. That resource, combined with continued professional development of our people, and a strong senior management team, has been critical to our success.”
Innovation is also key. “We are constantly innovating and adopting the very latest technologies in order to deliver world-class results for our clients. These include digital construction – 3D BIM modelling across design and build projects, smart applications to deliver real-time information from field to desktop on live platforms accessible to clients. We will continue to invest in innovation and in our people as we continue to grow and develop on both the home and international markets.”