'We didn't want our friends to lose their jobs': Why this pair led a buyout of their company

The move secured 40 jobs at Dublin-based Ionic Consulting.

By Paul O'Donoghue Reporter, Fora

LEADING A BUYOUT of the company that he has worked at for over a decade was all about keeping his friends employed for Brendan Heneghan.

The Dubliner is the chief operations officer of renewable energy engineering services Ionic Consulting, recently re-named from Wind Prospect Ireland.

Together with the company’s Irish managing director Ken Boyne, Heneghan has just taken control of Wind Prospect Ireland in a move that secured the firm’s 40 jobs.

Heneghan has been at Wind Prospect Ireland since 2006, and a director since 2011. The firm was the Irish arm of the Bristol-based Wind Prospect Group.

The Wind Prospect Group has recently been hit financially, struggling to cope as the UK government became less keen to subsidise renewable energy developments.

The company lost about £1.6 million in 2015 and has started closing some of its subsidiaries outside of the UK.

In a move to avoid the same fate, Heneghan and Boyne approached Ulster Bank and managed to secure a loan facility.

Brendan Heneghan (2) Ionic operations director Brendan Heneghan
Source: Ionic Consulting

The pair used the facility, alongside some of their own money, to buy out the shareholders of the Irish company. They did not give any detail on how much the business cost to buy or how large the loan facility was.

Friends

Wind Prospect Ireland has now been re-branded as Ionic Consulting. The firm, which employs about 40 people between its offices in Dublin and Kerry, provides a range of engineering services for renewable energy projects.

Speaking to Fora, Heneghan said that when he and Boyne saw the UK parent struggling, they didn’t want the same thing to happen in Ireland.

“It was a very amicable buyout. The shareholders we bought out, we’ve all known each other for quite a long time,” he said.

“For our colleagues and for us not to lose our positions, that was our primary reason to do it.

“These are people who I’ve worked with, some for 11 years. When you work with people for that long and you have that loyalty, if you can secure their jobs then I think there is an onus on you to do that.”

Ken Boyne Ionic managing director Ken Boyne
Source: Ionic Consulting

Heneghan said that while he and others could have looked to move elsewhere, “we like the people that we work with and we like our clients”.

“I think that’s the most important thing for us. They’re not just our colleagues, they’re our friends.”

Pressure

Heneghan acknowledges that there is now more pressure on both him and Boyne as they now own and head up Ionic.

“There’s an additional responsibility. We’ve got the same duties as directors but we have the additional incentive of a big loan hanging over us. We’re excited and nervous.”

Ionic had turnover of about €5 million last year and is profitable. So far, the Dublin company has mainly done engineering work in Ireland that supports onshore wind developments.

However, Heneghan wants the company to start working on other renewable energy projects, such as those in solar and biomass, and also wants to do more work abroad.

“There may be opportunities in Africa and Asia, and there are already opportunities throughout Europe,” he said.

“We see a bigger involvement in solar and biomass, both in Ireland and internationally. There is no reason why the company can’t grow in the coming years (but) initially it’s just about securing the existing jobs and diversifying our base.”

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