AGENT Q&A with Ronan Murphy, Founder, Metaltech EngineeringLast Updated: May 1, 2020
“Surround yourself with honest people.” Ronan Murphy, the founder of Metaltech Engineering, spoke to AGENT about his business motivations and inspirations.
Metaltech Engineering is a leading manufacturer of steel products based in the mid-west of the Republic of Ireland. Metaltech Engineering’s products are found throughout many different industries from airport ground support and material handling systems to telecommunications and electronics companies. The leading manufacturer provide a wide range of services including sub-contract design, prototyping, manufacture, on-site fitting & assembly.
12 Questions for Ronan Murphy
Ronan Murphy spoke to AGENT about taking over an engineering business unexpectedly at 24 years of age, how he steered his company through the collapse of the construction industry in the late 2000’s and the importance of making time for a work-life balance.
1. Briefly tell us about your business and your business goals.
Metaltech Engineering is a steel manufacturing company based in the mid-west region of Ireland. We are involved in a number of different industry sectors. We supply airport ground support equipment such as passenger stairs and baggage trailers to ground handling operations all over Europe. We are also one of the largest suppliers of Biomass Silo Systems for storing biomass fuel such as wood pellets and wood chip for the renewable energy industry which we supply to customers all over the world. In addition to this we are also a trusted sub contract manufacturer of sheet metal components and assemblies which are used in a diverse range of different applications.
2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?
My father started an engineering business in the early seventies but unfortunately he passed away in 2005 when I was 24. I was studying accounting and finance at the time and didn’t particularly have aspirations on getting involved in the family business so soon but I was given the opportunity to run a small steel fabrication operation in Sixmilebridge, Co Clare with 5 employees and decided to try to make a go of it.
3. Who are your business icons and inspirations?
I think people like Elon Musk and Tim Cook are interesting characters but generally business people do not inspire as much as people who are capable of seeing things differently and have the courage to take risks for the things that they believe in.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
When I took over the business in 2005 our main activity was sub contract manufacture of steelwork for the construction industry. The collapse of the construction industry in late 2000’s meant we lost 70% of our sales revenue which left us very close to the edge. What it forced us to do was to diversify and look at manufacturing products which we could sell to market ourselves instead of relying solely on sub contract manufacturing. Thankfully the idea of manufacturing a range of flat packed wood pellet silos ended up being highly successful and allowed us to navigate the company through what was a very tough time.
5. What gives you the most satisfaction in business?
Meeting people and knowing that they are happy with the products and service that we supply.
6. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
Yes its essential. I am a keen musician and love sports so I try to make as much time as possible for these pursuits. I think it is important to take time out of the office regularly as it is often when you give yourself a bit of a break from the day to day management that you can do more effective long term planning.
7. What is the first thing you do every day?
I would usually take a half an hour to do some exercise in the morning and have a light breakfast. Luckily I only have to walk 10 minutes to get to the office.
8. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
It’s a photo I took of a mural I saw on a wall in New Jersey which shows a Native American woman holding a skull
9. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
Spotify premium all the way. Couldn’t live without it. The wallet app is a lifesaver also as I tend to travel a bit and used to regularly misplace my boarding cards.
10. What is the last thing you Googled?
The Camino Way. We recently supplied ground support equipment to an airport in Santiago De Compostella which I knew was the end destination for the pilgrimage. I’m not a particularly religious person but I did go trekking for 10 days in the Himalayas before and loved it so I would like to do the Camino someday.
11. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
Keys, wallet and phone. The holy trinity.
12. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?
Take an interest in all aspects of your business but don’t try to manage everything yourself. Surround yourself with honest people who care about the business and are not afraid of taking on responsibility.