Making it Work

Rise of data centres help to power ‘aggressive’ growth at Whitewater

The water treatment company is now targeting a strong and rapid growth strategy with the aim of reaching €50m in turnover in five to eight years

Eoin Gilsenan, associate director, Whitewater: ‘We have a very aggressive growth path.’ Picture: John Allen

Whitewater, an Irish water treatment company founded more than 90 years ago, is targeting an “aggressive” growth strategy, having doubled its sales after moving into the data centre industry.

The Enterprise Ireland-backed business has a long history, having been established by a businessman named Ralph S White in 1932. It has been known as Whitewater since the 1990s, and today provides water treatment services to a number of major clients across healthcare, pharmaceuticals and data centre development.

The latter sector, which has grown rapidly across Europe in recent years, has helped Whitewater double both its revenues and its headcount in the last two years.

The company, which has been owned by the Keating family since the 1970s, now employs nearly 50 people between its headquarters in Co Wicklow and its second office in Hemel Hempstead in Britain. It is currently hiring up to ten new staff members, Eoin Gilsenan, associate director at the company, told the Business Post.

“We have a very aggressive growth path,” Gilsenan said. “Our target now is to get to €50 million in turnover within the next five to eight years. That’s the key driver for us.”

The company believes it has an edge over competitors because it not only designs water treatment solutions for clients, it manufactures and installs them too. It has customers in Ireland, Poland, Norway, Sweden, France and several other European countries.

“In the last few years, our major growth has come from the expansion of the data centre industry throughout the world,” Gilsenan said. “We are designing sustainable water treatment solutions for the major tech companies here, in Britain and further afield.”

The rise of data centres around the world has not been without controversy, with concerns raised about the colossal amount of power the facilities need to operate. In Ireland, a moratorium has been placed on the development of data centres in the greater Dublin region.

Gilsenan said the data centre industry “has to change and adapt according to the different external pressures”. He noted that most proposed data centres now get water from harvesting rainwater or other avenues.

“In terms of the power constraints, we may see a change here in Ireland where, potentially, the moratorium will be passed due to a requirement for each of these data centres to produce their own energy. If they can do that, they won’t be affecting the grid,” he said.

Whitewater is attempting to “effect change within the industry,” Gilsenan said. “We’re producing solutions where the design has sustainability right at the core.”

While data centres account for most of its recent growth, Whitewater is also growing its client list across both healthcare and pharma. This year, it has secured €3 million-worth of orders for pure water systems from clients in the pharmaceutical industry.

“We were very conscious as we moved into the data centre space that it would have been very easy to focus all our energies there,” Gilsenan said.

“But we took a strategic position to also focus on the pharmaceutical industry, and to maintain our position in the healthcare industry, where we probably have in the region of 60 or 70 per cent of the market.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland