Building Your Business
Frontline Engineering Company FM Environmental host PLATO Companies in Newry

20 February 2018

A diverse range of PLATO companies were educated in the area of waste water management and guarding the water/sewage systems from grease from commercial kitchens this week when they visited FM Environmental. They also saw the devastating impacts of Fatbergs on London’s sewage systems..

Founder of the family company Eamonn J. Fitzpatrick hosted the tour along with his son, Eamon Fitzpatrick and Olga McNulty both from the Grease Guardian side of the business.

Eamonn talked about how he left a secure job to start the company and always had great faith that it would work although there were setbacks. Most of those he recalled were people related, losing his right-hand man in 1987 due to the Troubles (mistaken for a police man). Eamonn says these hard times test you as a person and as a boss. It was at this time his son Kevin joined the business to support him; Kevin is now the MD of the company as Eamonn says with a smile, “I’ve been put out to pasture”. Eamonn is naturally very proud of the position of the company today having manufacturing sites in Malta and Malaysia and globally exporting to 30 countries and still growing. He says the best piece of advice he got was from an engineer he knew well, “strive for excellence, even if you don’t always get there, at least you are striving and your people know it - your staff, your suppliers and your customers”.  Growing a business in the height of the troubles relied on good people and I feel people dealt with us because we give them a superior level of customer service, “I tried to make them feel like the only customer we have”.

As the company grows it gets more difficult and therein is the importance of systems and processes. In this company we have a family ethos and non-family are as important as the 7 family members working in the business – non-family members have often been mistaken for family due to the passion and commitment they have to the business.

Eamonn reflected, there were also some wild goose chases as he recalls a -1week fact-finding mission to Iran that lasted 3-days, he talked about dealing with different business cultures , the size of the global markets and how he had initial reservations about manufacturing abroad.

Olga and Eamon discussed the importance of doing business today in keeping close to distributors and working in partnership to provide solutions to the customer.  With the US market, Eamon discussed the levels of testing and certification required and how this high level of investment is necessary in working with US Authorities and the potential demand in the US market. Grease Guardian provides a superior product and thrives on finding niche markets for a large range of products. A lot of work has to be done in connection with educating potential clients in how the company can assist them in potentially saving money and/or resources.

The company promoted the idea of moving away from exhibitions to targeted meet the buyer events. Their current customer listing is vast and includes Grand Central Station NY, Stadia (e.g. Emirates, Boston), Restaurants (KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, Coles), many airports and hotels e.g. Hilton and tech. companies e.g. Facebook, google ebay and shops, M&S, Tesco, Walmart.

Eamonn kindly offered all attendees the opportunity to contact him in the future. Eamonn knows the importance of the strength of networks given he was once upon a time a fledging start-up company 1977 and a participant PLATO member company back in the 1980s and later a Parent Company 2000s. Eamonn has received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to PLATO.

  • Cavan
  • Louth
  • Meath
  • Monaghon