Celebrating a decade of trading, Dublin based company Thermoparts are looking forward to the next chapter in business continuing to put customer service at the heart of their heating and plumbing services. The company have gone from strength to strength since their inception in 2011 providing a vast range of innovative heating and plumbing products to the Dublin area and nationwide.
They have navigated their way through a recession, adapted to the many changes the Covid pandemic brought in 2020 and the uncertainty of the implications of Brexit on their supply and trade services.
Thermoparts is located at the Riverview Business Park, Clondalkin, just a short drive from Tallaght, Swords, Finglas, Blanchardstown and is easily accessible from the commuter belt.
Founder, Glen Clabby admits it was “tough times” starting out on his own in the middle of a recession leaving a well-paid job as a plumbing and heating sales rep.
“My wife, Suzanne was very supportive and together we spent six months researching the market trying to establish connections with suppliers and trying to get financing for a van before I handed in my notice.”
Securing a van proved to be elusive, right up until the day before Glenn terminated his work contract.
“I had no money, van, staff, premises, nothing. But Suzanne just said, ‘I know you can do it.’ She had that belief that we could make it work.”
Having developed strong client connections during his career, Glenn had a solid base of leads to work from when he began trading for himself on April 4, 2011.
“I would drive to the suppliers to collect materials and go out to all the sites; I was like the ice cream van for plumbers.”
This was how Glenn worked for 18 months, until he secured premises in Riverview Business Park and was able to take on his first member of staff. “The plan was that I would let him do the deliveries for two to three months while I put the store together; then I’d go back out on the road.”
He never did go back out full time and instead concentrated on in-house sales, contacting contractors that were working on major projects across the island of Ireland.
This proved to be a highly successful strategy for Thermoparts. “We started off supplying the mechanical materials for Google Laboratories, then it just grew” explains Glenn.
Projects included Failte Ireland in limerick, pharmaceutical companies, the new Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, St. James Hospital and major data centres across Europe.
Glenn was briefly enticed back on the road to supply all the mechanical systems for the Titanic Hotel in Belfast. “I got up at 5am in the morning, drove up to Belfast, dropped the materials on site and was back in Dublin by 9.30 – 10pm.
You do what you have to do” he says.
With this type of work ethic and commitment to customer service, its little wonder Thermoparts’ reputation grew; and so, did the orders. The company moved to larger premises in the same business park in 2018, and the following year reported its highest turnover to date.
With a focus on continuous in-house training to date with the latest developments in plumbing and heating technologies, staff at Thermoparts are on hand to advise customers and source the best plumbing and heating products for their needs.
Glenn adds: “Our clientele is so varied that we do everything from renewable energy products to basic compression fittings and bathroom suites”.
“We’re a heating and plumbing merchant but we are also a procurement company and pride ourselves on our resourcefulness to meet every demand.” Over the course of 10 years, Glenn and his staff have built up strong relations with their client base.
“We are not looking for quick sales’ we’re in it for the long run,” says Glenn.
“A lot of customers are now pals of mine and I know everybody who comes into the shop.”
His friendly charm and dogged perseverance in materials procurement has also won him an expanding international client base, supplying projects across Europe.
Despite facing a 50% loss in business sales last year due to the Covid pandemic, Managing Director Glenn comments that Thermoparts have “been lucky!”
“We were essential service providers for HSE supplying materials for Covid-19 works and that kept us going.
“After the first six months of our current financial year we’re almost on a par with 2019, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we surpass the figure by the end of the year.
“I think we’ve been very, very lucky” Glenn adds.
“We’ve all got families and have lost people, so I’m very mindful of the fact that here we are celebrating 10 years, and yet we’re coming out of a truly horrendous time for our community and the world as a whole.”
Brexit and the current materials shortage are a challenge, but Glenn remains positive.
“Everybody has to sharpen their pencil to try and be competitive with their rates right now.
But there definitely is light at the end of the tunnel. I am an eternal optimist!”
The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unexpected effect on customer service for Glenn and his team.
“With people working from home, I think many are finding they can be far more productive.
We’ve found that people are a lot more diligent when it comes to requesting certification of product.
We had to up our game and become really adept at quickly finding technical compliance information for customers.”
Glenn remarks that Thermoparts are being asked for testing certification for every single product that they sell.
“We are lucky because we have a very strong supplier network who are attentive to our product information requests.”
Thermoparts are also very active on the domestic side.
“Homeowners have been investing their holiday funds into home improvements during the pandemic and we’ve helped many get their domestic projects across the line.”
There have been a few unusual requests along the way, says Glenn. “We had one request from a guy who wanted a sprinkler system for his roof in order to scare away potential nesting birds.
Another guy comes in to buy fittings to create artwork.
No matter who the customer is, or how large their project is, we are here to help.”
With the plumbing industry constantly evolving it’s important that Glenn and his team change with it.
“We provide a great range of products and excellent customer service.
There’s nothing that comes across the door that we can’t handle.
I’m 10 years down the road, and I still love it.
“I find all the technical stuff really interesting, particularly the renewable energy side of the industry.
Fortunately, the guys I’m surrounded with are as excited and as interested about innovation as I am and that’s the reason why we’ll continue to grow as a business.”