Seamus Lawlor, Director of Business Development at Keltech.
SITUATED on the IDA Industrial Park, Keltech is a proud Waterford-based business in a constant state of evolution.
In 2022, the now internationally recognised firm had record sales, record employment and successfully entered the North American Market for the first time in their over 30-year history.
From its newly transformed 160,000 square foot facility in Waterford, Keltech impressively supplies six of the world’s 10 largest original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of construction machinery.
Said Seamus Lawlor, the company’s Director of Business Development: “Given the limited size of the domestic market, a successful Irish manufacturing company must inevitably make the export market a key component of the business plan.
“In 2014 we repositioned the sales strategy, we labelled it the “Keltech Growth Hack”. We decided to focus on three niche areas namely: Enclosures, Overhead Guards, and Reservoir Tanks.
“Nine years ago we employed 70 people in Waterford, our customers were predominantly Irish with some sprinkled across the UK. Today we are at 250 people and growing, with customers in Ireland, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland and now the USA.”
Last September, following a two-year investment programme, Keltech completed its multi-million-euro transformation of its headquarters.
“This is a game changer for existing and potential clients, it offers the market unrivalled capacity potential,” said Seamus. “Keltech has almost doubled its manufacturing footprint under one roof. In doing so we have also invested heavily in the key processes of: cutting, bending, welding and painting.”
Investments in the latest cutting and bending technology has enabled Keltech to process much more sheet steel tonnage while the investment strategy in welding and painting will provide the company with the market edge, as Seamus explained.
“Welding is one of industry’s biggest bottlenecks at the moment. The newest section of our K3 plant (occupying 40,000 square feet) is now fully operational with the sole purpose of creating world class welding capacity. The section houses our Advanced Robotic Welding Technology. Two brand new Valk robotic welding centres have been commissioned with a third to follow.”
K3 also provides Keltech’s certified welders with the ideal environment to carry out their craft via state-of-the-art air-fed weld PPE, lifting equipment, hall extraction and Fronius pulse welding plants.
In addition, the purpose-built Powder Paint Plant is a source of great pride for Keltech. The newly commissioned plant dubbed ‘KWrap’ is one of the most innovative coating solutions available on the market.
“Our customers’ products are constantly exposed to the harsh elements of nature,” said Seamus. “To uphold the paint quality and performance year after year, it is absolutely crucial to provide an effective anti-corrosion surface protection. KWrap is a technologically advanced and environmentally friendly pre-treatment followed by a single or double layer of powder paint.
“When I talk to customers the message is very simple: ‘Our Paint, Your Brand’. Paint is almost always the top priority for customers, this investment firmly cements our position as market leaders.”
With the investments now in situ, Keltech is targeting further growth in the coming two to three years. Seamus commented: “There is major opportunity in the market that we are hoping to capitalise on now.”
During 2022, Keltech delivered 28,800 hours of training and development. Unique education initiatives, such as its Welding Academy, CNC Traineeships, ‘Train the Trainer’ and so on have all been carefully designed to meet the industry’s needs, whilst also providing employees with the necessary skills to challenge, prosper and enjoy their roles.
Seamus continued: “What’s great is we are offering people with no background the chance to become involved in manufacturing here. With the right work ethic and positive attitude, the sky’s the limit. We have had some amazing success stories already.
“For example, Leah Murphy and Gerard Grace are Keltech’s latest Metal Fabrication Apprentices. In 2021, the pair both applied to Keltech’s Welding Academy with no previous welding/manufacturing experience. At the end of the intensive programme they were independently examined and certified to ISO 9606-1, a welding qualification recognised the world over. (Keltech run this course every 12 weeks; to apply, email [email protected]).
“Fast forward a year and having excelled in production both Leah and Gerard were selected for the Keltech apprenticeship programme. A unique four-year apprenticeship, which is a QQI Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft in Metal Fabrication.”
Keltech have not only developed talent, but they have also challenged their industry norms, as Seamus noted.
“It’s no secret that as a contract manufacturer with a core competency in sheet metal fabrication Keltech have traditionally operated in a male-dominated industry. But recently, this is becoming an outdated and inaccurate stereotype.”
Keltech has increased its female manufacturing staff by 250 per cent in the last year, including the company’s first ever female production team leader in Joanna Wozniak (hailing from the food industry), Keltech’s commitment to innovation, adaptability, inclusivity and collaboration is there for all to see.
National recognition came Keltech’s way last September when it was named among Ireland’s best managed companies at the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards for the second successive year.
“The Deloitte Best Managed Companies Award represented welcome acclaim for all of the hard work it takes to successfully operate a business like ours,” according to Seamus.
According to the adjudicators, Keltech “has a formal and defined strategy in place – one which considers all stakeholders, and which is consistently clearly communicated at all levels of the business. In other words, everyone understands the business journey and embraces the goals.”
Deloitte Best Managed Companies are those with which customers can be confident to do business, companies that have taken organisational excellence to the next level and have the metrics and capabilities to prove it. Keltech is thrilled to be counted among them.
Seamus concluded: “We would like to thank every customer, every supplier and every Keltech employee who has helped us get to our current position. The brand continues to go from strength to strength. Our pipeline of potential new business has never been stronger and, with the current investment in our people and plant, we are targeting a further 50 per cent growth as part of our Towards 2025 strategy.”
For further information, visit www.keltech.ie or call (051) 377900