At one stage Butler’s Steel in Portarlington was known far and wide and employing about 250 people in the town.
Now the site where that business once stood is being transformed into a vibrant Business Park which owner David Maher is hoping will bring a lot of jobs back to his home town.
The Dublin Road Business Park has 72,000 square foot of warehousing and 8,000 square foot of office space to rent.
“The amount of people that leave this town every day to go to Dublin to work is incredible,” says David, who bought the nine-acre site for under €1m. “Let’s turn that on its head and get some of them back working here.
“It’s going to be a high-profile iconic site on a busy road in and out of Portarlington,” he adds as he shows us around the premises.
“We have leases from one month to 20 years – there’s free fibre optic broadband of 100MB, no rates and heating and electricity are included. People can take a desk here for as little as €100 a month.”
When it comes to travelling to Dublin to work, David knows what he’s talking about. He commuted to Dublin for years to work in Oracle, a technology company, before quitting in 2003.
He wasn’t particularly fond of the job and he certainly didn’t like spending four hours a day coming and going from Dublin.
For a while he worked on the building sites but he was developing his own business, his mind in overdrive as to what he could do for himself.
Reading the Sunday Tribune one day on his way to Croke Park to watch Laois play, he spotted a piece about a TV satellite box that could get you all the BBC channels. David went off and bought ten of them and went about selling and installing them. The business took off like a prairie fire.
Initially he ran that business – freeTV.ie – from a room in his house, then a garden shed, then a fleet of containers in his garden, then a warehouse in Botley Lane in Portarlington. Now it sells every TV-related product you can think of – from set-top boxes to high-end CCTV systems.
David will be moving freeTV.ie to his new premises on the Dublin Road, along with the other main business he helped set up – theGardenShop.ie. “The TV business is a nightmare in the sense that products can become obsolete within 18 months,” he adds. “So we said what business has the lowest level of innovation – it’s gardening.” That business had experienced massive growth in recent times too, leading to this latest venture.
There’s incredible history to the site where the Dublin Road Business Park is now. It was owned originally by David Maher’s father who refused initially to sell it to Paddy Butler. Butler, though, bought a farm near the Mahers and eventually did a deal which amounted to a swap. The Mahers increased the size of their farm and Butler got the land he wanted in Portarlington before establishing Butler’s Steel as Ireland’s largest steel fabricator.
While the Muiriosa Foundation which is connected to Mooreabbey in Monasterevin is already based in one of the office blocks, the warehouses have been idle since 2010.
And as well as his own businesses – which he has set up with Barry Fogarty and John Carey – he also has a number of other companies committed to taking either warehousing or office space. “Services, technology and agricultural businesses are all going to be based here,” he adds. “And I think that is very representative of business in the midlands.”
As well as the buildings there is almost five acres of parking and David is looking for individuals and businesses to come forward with ideas and submission as to what is the best use of that area. Improving the image of the entire area is high on his agenda too. Trees have been sown on the perimeter of the site, there will be 10,000 daffodils going in too and there are plans for a mural on the outside wall of the building closest to the road.
A site with a huge history now looks as if it has a bright future too.
The Dublin Road Business Park
- A total of 72,000 square foot of warehousing comprising of six units made up
- Sizes range from 900 square foot to 22,000 square foot with apex heights of 9-11 metres
- Newly-constructed office complex consists of 8,000 square foot of office space
- Customers can choose between their own offices and shared work stations
- 100MB fibre optic broadband is available free
- Storage heating and power are included in all office lease packages
- Ideal location for online, warehousing, wholesale and logistics businesses
- 72,000 square foot (6,689 square metres) comprised of six units, ranging in size from 6,500 square foot to 22,000 square foot.
- Rent is €3.50 per square foot
Own desk workstation (two days a week) – €100 per month
Own desk workstation (full time) – €150 per month
Own office (one-six person) – €250-€800 per month