Building Your Business
Value of Tendering for PLATO EBR Parent Companes

5 November 2015

Two Cavan companies leading the PLATO Cavan Group, Abcon and GEM Oils avail of the Go-2-Tender Programme.

Family-owned Cavan-based Gem Oils has been in business for over 50 years, selling lubricants solutions to customers in every county across the island, and supplying oils and lubricant products to private and commercial users. 

CS_gemoilsdepot_ARTGiven its central location, and the fact that it has the largest bulk storage capacity for lubricating oils in Ireland, the company is perfectly positioned to service clients the length and breadth of the island and has built a strong customer base in both the North and South of the Island

However, the company found they were having limited success with tendering and although they had submitted bids for tenders, they struggled to win business. On one occasion, they tendered for business as part of a joint venture and experienced success. With this experience in mind, Commercial Manager Helen Milligan realised the company needed to improve their skills if they were going to succeed in the public sector market.

“Things were changing in the public procurement market and they still are with new processes and systems being put in place”, says Helen. 

The company felt the time was right to enhance their internal tendering skills, and contacted InterTradeIreland about training opportunities.

With an upcoming cross-border submission to supply lubricants for Translink’s bus & rail network across Northern Ireland in mind, the company enrolled on an InterTradeIreland Go-2-Tender programme. The two-day training course, which also includes mentoring, gives SMEs the confidence, knowledge and practical skills to tender successfully for public sector contracts, with an emphasis on cross-border opportunities.

Unfortunately, the workshop’s date fell after the deadline for this tender. Upon hearing of this development the Go-2-Tender team facilitated Helen to take the mentoring element of the programme first.

“As soon as they heard this, they offered me the mentoring element of the course first to assist with the tender which suited perfectly. I really felt that they were willing to go out of their way to help and be there for us as this was back-to-front compared to how things are usually done,” says Helen.

After help from the Go-2-Tender team, Gem Oils won their contract against other submissions. This business accounts for approximately 12% of Gem Oils turnover so is of huge significance to the company.

“When I compared the final Translink tender, which we submitted after the Go-2-Tender mentoring, against other submissions, it was like comparing night and day!“ says Helen.

CS_gemoils_ARTPictured at InterTradeIreland Business Ambassadors event: Paul Gilsenan, & of Barry Smith, Abcon, Darren Sherry, Optinergy, Helen Milligan & Tom Coughlan, GEM Oils Aiden Watters, Optinergy, Vincent Reynolds, Cavan Local Enterprise Office

Gem are currently tendering for similar business and have a lot more confidence in their submissions since engaging with the InterTradeIreland programme. 

Helen attended two Go-2-Tender workshops in Newry and Dublin post-mentoring and found the tips and techniques provided a useful back-up and reinforcement of her one-to-one training.  “I would thoroughly recommend the Go-2-Tender workshops and mentoring to other SMEs across Ireland,” she said. 

Helen added that her whole approach to submissions has changed completely and Gem Oils have now built new processes into their internal operations. “I was truly encouraged to find out that so much support was out there for SMEs and participating on Go2Tender has up-skilled me and helped the company to secure significant new business.”    

About the Go-2-Tender programme

1354 participants from 1182 companies across the island of Ireland have taken part in Go-2-Tender training since 2011.

The Go-2-Tender Programme consists or workshops and a mentoring element by a  Go-2-Tender consultant who can take the participant through previous tender submissions and pinpoint areas to be improved or common mistakes seen in tendering.

- See more at:

  • Cavan
  • Louth
  • Meath
  • Monaghon