A local entrepreneur on the up is Paul Collins, the founder of Design Pro, which has just won the National Enterprise Award in Dublin.
Founded in 2004 by mechanical engineer Mr Collins, Design Pro – based in the Ballinvullen Business Park, Newcastle West – provides robotics for industries across Ireland and Europe.
The company, which employs 14 people, and a further 14 in a supply firm at the same premises, exists to provide automation and machine build services to the medical devices, pharmaceuticals, electronics and automotive markets.
Design Pro beat companies from across Ireland to be crowned the Overall Winner at the Enterprise Awards held in Dublin Castle.
Organised by the County Enterprise Boards from across Ireland, the awards recognise small to medium sized companies throughout the country.
They were hosted by Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton at a black-tie awards ceremony.
Design Pro was set up in a tented house in 2004, the business has doubled in size over the last five years. Its client list includes Oral-B, Tyco Electronics, and Boston Scientific.
Mr Collins admitted he was “blown away” to win the National Enterprise Award.
“I went and stood on the podium, and shook Richard Bruton’s hand, and was asked to make a speech. But I wasn’t prepared for it. I think I said that I only came to Dublin Castle expecting to get the dinner! I didn’t expect anything else,” he admitted.
But he said the award is a real “pat on the back” for his company.
“We have a good working environment. People come into work happy, and go home happy. When we win an award like this, it is a real pat on the back for us,” Mr Collins said. Design Pro has not been affected by the recession in the same way as other companies, and Mr Collins is looking to expand his company’s reach in the coming years.
To this end, he is to open a second business in Kantoher, employing between 20 and 30.
“We want to employ more people. We like to employ local people within Co Limerick, North Kerry and that area. We are planning to expand further,” he confirmed.
Another of the Mid-West region’s businesses was recognised at the awards – Aaron Value Adding Services from Shannon won the Innovation in Product Development Award.
This company provides complex electrical fittings to heighten the speed of electrical connections.
Acting CEO of the Limerick County Enterprise Board Mike Cantwell was delighted at Design Pro’s win.
“As overall winners in this year’s awards, people of Limerick will be very proud of Design Pro’s success, and we would like to pay tribute to Paul and his hard working team,” Mr Cantwell said. “By growing internationally, and doubling in size each of the last five years, Design Pro, and other small businesses like them, are helping to lead Limerick’s economic recovery.”