My first job after college was actually at Finnebrogue in 2001. It was a much smaller operation back then, focusing on the venison side of the business. My week was almost as varied as it is now. I worked in the slaughter on a Saturday, Denis and I were on the hide pull. I was the butcher’s apprentice on a Monday and Tuesday, learning how to trim ribs and remove leg bones. I did telesales on a Wednesday, calling hotels and restaurants for venison orders and I then I delivered those orders all over Ireland in my wee white van on Thursday and Friday. It was a very full on role for a 22-year old so after one year I decided to take some time out and do some travelling.
Growing up, I’d always gone on camping holidays in France. So, I got a job in the South of France working for a camping company called Eurocamp. I also used to play a lot of hockey and I coached kids at the weekend so I was able to land myself a job running the kids club. It was a huge contrast to life at Finnebrogue. I was living close to the French / Spanish border at the foot of the Pyrenees and my job was to organise games and activities for kids on holiday. It was fantastic!
I came back to Finnebrogue a few years later as Continuous Improvement Manager and was given the job of Production Manager on my first day! The next few years were challenging to say the least but I pride myself on never being beaten, so I believe I had no choice but to rise to every challenge and overcome every obstacle. From 2010, up to present day the business has grown from a turnover of £5 million to around £60 million and I take great pride in knowing that I’ve played a big part in helping Denis deliver his vision so far. I took on the role of Operations Manager in 2014 after having gained the experience and skills required to carry out a more senior role. I can honestly say it was the best and most rewarding move of my career. I have now built a fantastic team of dedicated people who are genuinely passionate about delivering the best products possible for both the business and our customers.
During my time in this role we achieved BRC AA+ twice, we were also accredited as an M&S Gold site for food safety, all customer service levels are above 99% and we were M&S number one fresh Christmas supplier 2 years’ in a row. We achieved our Silver accreditation for Lean Manufacturing and are currently working towards Gold. We’ve reduced our waste by 40% and are now “zero to landfill”, we achieved ISO 14001 2 years’ in a row with no non-conformances as well as many other awards and accreditations. We have done all of this whilst we continue to grow at an astonishing pace and at the same time designing, building and moving into our new £25 million state-of-the-art facility.
Following these successes, I have now been promoted to the role of Operations Director which has given me the opportunity to get more involved in the commercial side of the business while also getting more face to face time with our customers.
I feel very lucky to work for a company where my ethos is completely aligned to the ethos of the business. Denis wants Finnebrogue to produce the best products in the world, and we do! Innovation is key and Denis wants to bring something new, to give people something they didn’t know they even wanted or needed. We make the best quality products you can buy, in the best facility in the world with the best staff. No matter what I’ve done in my life my main goal has always been to be the best. I was the top goal scorer in school and county hockey team, in France I won the ‘Number 1’ kids club in Europe, I’ve just won UK Plant Manager of the Year. I can’t imagine working for a business that wasn’t striving to be the best in the world. The real key to our success from an operational perspective has been down to the people who work for Finnebrogue and their relationship with the business and our values. I am a firm believer in promoting from within and developing our people to fulfil their potential. It means we keep the ethos and the spirit of the company aligned with who we are. It is a real cliché, however the quote, “if you look after your employees, your employees will look after your customers”, couldn’t be truer. Our people care about consistently delivering the best quality possible, we take real pride in what we do as a business and that in turn gives everyone a real sense of job satisfaction and fulfilment.