When Michael O’Carroll established Killarney Precision Engineering with his wife Margaret in 1990, the fledgling fabrication business was a two-person operation.
Thirty years on, it has grown to employ 140 people at a 10,000-square-metre facility outside the Co Kerry town and a British office in Essex near London.
Killarney Precision Engineering Ltd (KPEL) is the parent company of several related ventures led by O’Carroll, including O’Carroll Engineering and Signature Stairs, both of which operate in Ireland and Britain, and Laser Tube Ireland.
With a shared focus on industrial and architectural metalwork, these businesses have combined annual revenues of about €10 million.
O’Carroll Engineering specialises in industrial access systems and walkways, balcony systems, railings and balustrades for big developments.
Laser Tube Ireland prepares the steel and aluminium parts used in these projects, and Signature Stairs works with builders and architects to make high-end glass and metal feature stairs for private homes.
“We work with building contractors, engineering firms and architects, but industrial access systems are really the main focus of the business at the moment,” O’Carroll said.
“Liebherr Container Cranes here in Killarney is a major client on the industrial front. We’ve also worked with Walsh Construction Group and PJ Hegarty & Sons in Ireland and the JRL Group in London.”
In the last two decades, KPEL, which is a client of Enterprise Ireland, has incrementally invested “millions” in new building methods and integrated technologies, according to O’Carroll.
“We’ve always put a lot of stock in technology and cutting-edge fabrication methods,” he said.
“It’s not good enough now in our industry to be concentrating solely on just the elements of a product. We look at how our products can be installed more quickly and save time on-site for the client.
“We have a big focus on off-site prefabrication and we’ve developed our own digitised design-to-fabrication technology system. That allows us to gather site data at the start of a project using 3D modelling and BIM (building information modelling) technology.
“We can then use that to design online and we can integrate approved drawings with our automated cutting machines. It makes for faster, more accurate, projects that can be scheduled in sync with the client’s construction timeline.”