Building Your Business
What is the Similarity between Waterford Crystal, Irish Handmade Glass Company and PLATO EBR?

10 August 2015

Recently we heard in the news about how former employees of Waterford Crystal have voted to accept proposals put forward by the Government to resolve their pension difficulties (see Earlier this month the Cabinet signed-off on the deal that was voted on today by some of the former workers. The cost of the €178m scheme will be borne by central funds after an amendment to social protection legislation currently going through the Oireachtas. The multi-million euro payout is expected to work out at an average of around €40,000 in a once-off lump sum payment per former employee, which does not include the annual pension payments. Around 1,700 former employees will benefit to varying degrees.


Waterford Crystal employees decided they weren’t taking no for an answer in relation to their own pay-outs and pensions but in addition these  high-skilled workers set about establishing their own company, the Irish handmade glass company – this is what makes them similar to PLATO EBR. The Plato model originates from 1988 in Turnhout which is a Belgian municipality located in the Flemish province of Antwerp, a region still highly active using the same model almost 30 years later. When Philips closed a significant manufacturing plant in the region in 1988, former employees were pushed into entrepreneurship and hence faced with the new and challenging issues of setting up and operating a new venture. Philips HQ was interested in fully supporting former employees in new venture exploration and the first Plato pilot programme was born. The initiative sought to capitalise upon the wealth of management expertise in the Philips factory and translate this potential into nascent entrepreneurial activity as part of a wider attempt to promote the growth and development of indigenous enterprise within the Turnhout region.


Similary the group of entrepreneurs who established the Irish handmade glass company say “Our fathers were Master Craftsmen at Waterford Crystal and naturally we all followed in their footsteps. We became apprentices to the great masters of glassblowing and cutting at the tender ages of 15 years. Every day we learned more and more, until after 8 years we too, like our fathers, became masters of our craft. We worked there with pride, and took pleasure in the joy our skill and quality brought to others throughout the world. Until in 2009 the unthinkable happened and the factory closed and the workforce was laid off. Our world was shattered. A group of us were determined that this could not happen, the age old craft of Glassmaking, associated with the oldest city in Ireland, Waterford, could not be lost. Our determination saw us form a brand new crystal company in the very heart of Waterford City; The Irish Handmade Glass Company was born.”

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