Greg Hayden, the chief executive of Ethos Engineering, is feeling optimistic. The company has just announced plans for 150 hires over the coming years, and Hayden is bullish about its prospects, after weathering a fair share of turbulence over the years.
Founded in 2005, Ethos offers consultancy services to firms across a range of industries. Over the years it has worked in several sectors, but in recent times it has begun to market itself as an expert in data centre design. It is operational in 14 countries and counts some of the world’s biggest companies among its clients.
Ethos restructured its model this year, focusing explicitly on six areas – data centre design, urbanism, regional, sustainability, smart buildings and global technology – in a bid to expand across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
It plans to double turnover by 2025 as part of a new four-year business plan which will take it from 110 to 260 employees.
“We’re very aware of the need for innovation, and we felt that what got us to where we were won’t take us to where we need to go,” Hayden, who founded the firm alongside five other engineers, said of Ethos’s new strategy. “We needed to innovate.”
As part of this evolution, Ethos has established a digital consultancy unit which examines how buildings are used in a business world increasingly interested in sustainable growth.
“What we’re actually finding now with sustainability is we’re being asked to get involved in projects earlier and earlier,” said Hayden.
But it hasn’t always been straightforward for Ethos, an Enterprise Ireland-backed business which has won Ireland’s engineering firm of the year for four years running. The company began its life by managing the design of the Beacon Hospital and Beacon South Quarter, two major projects for a newly established business.
But then the financial crisis hit. “When the recession came, it was like someone turned off the tap overnight. Our turnover went down to about 25 per cent of what it was, and there was just no work in Ireland or Europe. We found ourselves in the Middle East and North Africa trying to sell ourselves,” Hayden said.
By taking its consultancy abroad, Ethos managed to endure the worst of the recession, and started employing again in 2010.
Data centres, a contentious issue in Ireland amid dire energy shortage warnings, are now central to Ethos’s growth plans. The company has worked on 23 in Ireland alone, and 50 per cent of its new staff will work in this area.
Hayden said the businesses building data centres are “some of the best companies in the world”. “They bring innovation and talent to our shores, and they’re strong advocates for using as little energy as possible, in as efficient a way as possible. They’re going to perfect this over time, and in my view, it’s much more good than bad.”