The Newry-based company has grown tremendously in the past decade and McGuinness’ commitment to its apprentices and employees still lies at the heart of the successful mechanical contractor…
For the past 10 years, leading mechanical engineering contractor McGuinness Mechanical Engineering Ltd has been operating in prestigious projects across the island. The company has earned a reputation amongst clients as the partner of choice to deliver the highest standard of work at speed and quality, with excellence beyond expectation.
Today, McGuinness employs 50 direct staff and a large pool of trained and trusted subcontractors, amounting to 100 people, but it all started with a one-man team 10 years ago. After serving his time as an apprentice at Sean McGuinness Plumbing and Heating, his uncle’s business, MD and Founder Thomas McGuinness worked for a couple of years as a plumber in Melbourne, Australia. In 2012, he started McGuinness Plumbing Ltd.
“It was mostly domestic work. I started doing one-off houses for local small builders and then moved up doing school extensions,” Thomas commented. “The larger projects came and, before we knew it, we had large sites running concurrently. Today, we are working on 12 projects at the same time, and they would consist of anything up to 300-unit schemes.”
The company was rebranded in 2022 as McGuinness Mechanical Engineering Ltd (please see more on page 15). The contractor’s head office is in Newry, but they also have a warehouse and an office in Donabate, North Co Dublin.
It is all about the people
Thomas explained the business has grown steadily and sustainably, and that the company’s successful journey is down to the quality and the loyalty of the staff, “We don’t have a high turnover. We appreciate how talented the team is and that we can rely on them to deliver constantly.”
As you can see on page 15, McGuinness is renowned for its Apprentice Program and for empowering the next generation of professionals in the industry, but the company also makes it a point on investing in career progression for their staff. “We constantly try to have new training, not just for the apprentices, but also for the existing staff, there is huge benefit to continuously up skilling staff. We like to show that people can progress within the company, that they can start as plumbers and then move on to become a supervisor, contracts managers, design engineers etc,” Thomas explained. “Our people grow with us, and that is what McGuinness is built upon. We show their ambitions can be met within our company.”
With the help of Procore construction software, the team at McGuiness also relies on a “lessons learned” platform, which documents and shares relevant information about each project. “There will always be mistakes, it’s all about how you deal with them and learn from them, so you can avoid them or highlight them as potential pitfalls to the client,” Thomas explained. “We are constantly trying to improve our service, and this is a great way to share previous experiences.”
In-house design department
Another strong feature of the services offered by McGuinness is their in-house design department. The team comprises mechanical engineers, estimators and CAD technicians who produce a full mechanical design according to the client’s brief. McGuinness also relies on the talent of a Building Information Modelling (BIM) technician, and all their pre-fabrication happens in their headquarters in Newry.
“We take the lead in the design and work alongside the electrical contractor as well, so we can implement the electrician’s drawings and make sure there are no clashes,” Thomas said. The service is offered to both small and large clients. “By having the ability and talent to do that we speed the whole project up, as well as the pre-fabrication stage, so we can iron out any issues in the office before we go to the site, which also speeds up installation time. The clients really appreciate that”, he commented.
Busy new year
McGuinness Mechanical Engineering has a bright year ahead. With the steady growth in the past years, the company needs additional office area, warehouse facility and pre-fabrication area, and is in the process of developing plans for the new premises.
“The next big step for McGuinness is to take on projects of 500 or 600 units and keep growing,” Thomas commented. The company has a strong order book for 2023, with four projects starting in the first quarter. They include the second phase for a 300-unit site in Dundalk, a new site with 82 units in Delgany, Co. Wicklow, a social housing project comprising 99 units for the South Dublin Council in Clondalkin, and a 250-apartment scheme in North Dublin, for which pre-fabrication works have already started.
For the full feature on McGuinness, check out Ireland’s Plumbing & Heating Magazine Issue 111 Jan-Feb here.