How H&MV Engineering achieved high voltage growth in new markets

 
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“When you have access to that funding, it gives you comfort, as the alternative seems costly to explore a new region.”

– PJ Flanagan, CEO

Case Study: H&MV Engineering

Headquartered in Limerick, high voltage solutions specialist H&MV Engineering (H&MV) has experienced rapid growth in recent years, breaking new ground in the UK and Norwegian markets. Enterprise Ireland has provided valued assistance to H&MV throughout this busy growth period.

“We specialise in grid connections”, says CEO PJ Flanagan. “If a high-energy user customer wants to connect to the power grid, they need H&MV to build a sub-station and connect them. We also work for distribution network operators (DNOs) and transmission network operators (TNOs). If a company is developing a data centre, the first thing they need is a grid connection. That’s what we do.”

The firm was founded in 1997 and Flanagan joined the following year as its first apprentice electrician. Growing steadily since 1997, the company has transitioned from a small electrical sub-contractor to a high voltage specialist, operating as principal contractor on major projects. 

In 2015, Flanagan and his business partner John Stokes led a management buyout (MBO) of the company with the support of MML Growth Capital Partners. “MML is backed by Enterprise Ireland and AIB”, says Flanagan. “That was our first introduction to Enterprise Ireland. We had turnover of €7 million and 70 employees at that time. We now have 155 employees, turnover has grown to €33 million, and we have just announced our planned expansion. This expansion will result in H&MV doubling our workforce here in Limerick over the next five years. In the last two years, our design team alone has grown from 1 to 14.”

As part of the MBO process, Flanagan and the management team set out a long-term vision of how they wanted the company to develop. “Our ambition was to grow the company in the UK and across Europe”, he says. “Enterprise Ireland’s market research supports have been very beneficial for us. When you have access to that funding, it gives you comfort, as the alternative seems costly to explore a new region. We have been very successful in the UK to date and anticipate UK turnover to reach £4 million in 2018.”

KEY TAKEOUTS

H&MV had grown steadily from a small electrical sub-contractor to high voltage specialist.

The Enterprise Ireland Market Access Grant helped them set up in new regions.

With a country by country, market by market approach, the focus is on the quality of the contracts and having the ability to be selective.

H&MV has also focused on the Norwegian market as part of its strategic growth. “Business in Norway is progressing for us now and we secured a €6 million contract outside Oslo last year. We have applied for another grant to assist in researching and validating the Dutch market.”

This country by country, market by market approach is a deliberate strategy. “We are looking for steady organic growth”, Flanagan points out. “We don’t chase numbers. We chase quality in terms of the contracts we work on and the clients we work for. We are very selective and we don’t take on just anybody. Our clients tend to be very large companies in industries like pharmaceuticals, utility provision, data centres and renewable energy. Many of our customers are state-owned.”

Growth ambitions are not limited to Europe. “I am travelling to South Africa in the near future to look at that market. We might explore the Far East as well. Advance research to ensure market viability is imperative.”

Enterprise Ireland support has played a key role in the company’s growth in recent years. “It has been massively important to us”, says Flanagan. “Enterprise Ireland helped us make initial contact and build relationships in new regions. They are very helpful in terms of organising meetings and introductions. We have been able to use Enterprise Ireland’s overseas office network as well. Support from the organisation gives you great confidence. It can be lonely at first when you’re trying to break into a new market, so it’s great to have someone on the ground to give you support and help. I would encourage other companies to approach Enterprise Ireland if they have ambitions to expand into a new region.”