Limerick Business Leader: ‘Innovation at the heart of everything we do within 4site’

Ian Duggan is the chief executive of 4site, a major employer with more than 80 staff on its books, based at the Raheen Business Park

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts

Limerick Business Leader: ‘Innovation at the heart of everything we do within 4site’

Ian Duggan is the chief executive of 4site, a major employer with more than 80 staff on its books, based at the Raheen Business Park

Tell us a little bit about 4site:

4site provides innovative engineering solutions for major infrastructural developments in telecommunications. We work with infrastructure owners and operators of distributed networks to design, build, deploy and maintain utilities infrastructure and across Ireland, the United Kingdom and beyond. 

We basically simplify complex engineering solutions and work with clients to help them maximise the value of their infrastructure. With over 15 years’ experience at home and abroad, we have earned a reputation as an independent, trusted partner who innovates, develops services, optimises assets and delivers cost efficiencies. We provide unparalleled service and quality, ensuring clients successfully meet the challenges presented by the always-evolving technology landscape. 

Where are you located?

​We are headquartered at the Raheen Business Park in Limerick, with sister offices in Dublin and Britain, and we currently employ 80 people, the majority of which are qualified engineers and technicians. Innovation is at the heart of what we do and our highly skilled in-house technical teams continually adapt technology, tools and processes to deliver reliable and future-proofed turnkey services for clients across Ireland, Britain and further afield. These clients include Vodafone, SIRO, Cignal, Huawei, 2RN (RTE), Three, Ericsson, Nokia, CityFibre, CommScope and enet.

How much have you invested in your centre here?

​We recently invested €250,000 in developing a ‘Fibre Centre of Excellence’ at our Limerick HQ, unique in Ireland and testament to the focus on the need for increased broadband speeds for both homes and businesses in Ireland and abroad. This facility brings together the expertise of fibre design, survey and planning engineers who will continually innovate how fibre networks are designed and delivered, while also focusing on specialised training for graduate engineers to meet not just the current demands, but future 5G or next generation network developments.

What does your role entail?

As chief executive, I lead a strong senior management team across operations, programs, finance, sales and marketing and represent a skilled and professional workforce that covers all parts of Ireland and Britain. As 100% owner of the business, my commitment to the organisation is significant.  My role is prioritised by the needs of our clients and ensuring we are doing everything possible to deliver for them. 

During a typical week I will work from our headquarters in Limerick on Monday, focusing mainly on the day to day operations with our operations director and program directors. On Tuesdays, I’m also in headquarters, but this time focusing on the finance aspect of the business. Wednesday and Thursday are usually client facing. I meet with existing clients to discuss ongoing projects and also meet with new business prospects. If I can at all, I try and work from home on Fridays as this allows me to catch up on paperwork as well as having time to think. While that’s my ideal week, this can change on a day to day basis depending on client’s needs.

As we are primarily involved in the rollout of networks, it can be very dynamic and demanding around targets and we need to ensure we deliver for our clients.

Where were you born and raised?

I grew up in Tralee and still live in Kerry, even though I mostly work in Limerick and Dublin. I love Kerry, especially during the summer – a typical Kerry man! 

What is your educational background?

I attended CBS the Green in Tralee and then studied construction  management in Waterford IT, which gave me a good broad knowledge of construction and engineering as well as business management.  

How did you get to where you are today?

After I graduated as an engineer with a BSc (Hons) in construction management from Waterford in 1992, I worked with Jons Civil Engineering as an engineer on a range of major civil projects. I then joined Ned O’Shea Construction in Kerry as a site manager/engineer looking after a number of commercial, healthcare and public building projects. I moved to Dublin to Spain Courtney Doyle as a resident engineer, working on the second phase of The Square shopping centre in Tallaght which included an extension of the shopping centre and the construction of a new multi storey car park. In 1996, I joined Esat Digifone shortly after they were awarded the second mobile licence and I worked as a principal engineer looking after the roll out of hundreds of mobile network sites.

As a result, I gained invaluable experience in the rollout of telecom networks and getting to market quickly. I was also involved in the establishment of the Cork office for the business and also took on the role of construction manager to a team of engineers.  I loved the faster pace of telecoms rollout and having to constantly adapt to new trends and technologies. Nobody realised back in the late 1990’s that we would end up with an insatiable appetite for data and mobile phones and that there would be a need for the constant expansion and upgrading of networks. After six years with Esat, I saw an opportunity to set up a consultancy company offering engineering services to the telco operators and in 2002, I established 4site.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

In telecoms right now, it’s about two things - bandwidth capacity and ‘fibre to the home’. With this in mind, we have invested significantly in our fibre to the home offering and developing our purpose built 3,500 square foot space in our Limerick headquarters called the ‘Fibre Centre of Excellence’.

This is allowing us to support our customers in Ireland, the UK and further afield. It is also testament to the focus on the need for increased broadband speeds for both homes and businesses in Ireland and abroad. We are now starting to see the green shoots of what will be the next 5G networks and have been involved in some interesting projects in the UK that are paving the way to what these networks will ultimately be.

Who do you admire in business?

I have huge admiration for anyone that has set up their own business. I particularly admire those who may have failed on their first or second attempt at entrepreneurship, but have still come back and created jobs and real value in our economy. As the son of a garage owner, I always had ambitions to work for myself. I grew up in a house where running a business was a big part of our day to day lives. I only really appreciate now the highs and lows of running a business.

In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?

One of my key mottos is ‘a client will forget if you’re late, but they will never forget if you’re wrong.’ My team are sick of hearing me say this, but it’s so true. I also try not to be overly dependent on particular clients or sectors. Diversity in your client portfolio is important. Grow across multiple clients and sectors, but don’t ignore the core skills your business provides.

Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?

I love cycling and do a lot of cycling at club level. I also enjoy reading, I recently read The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton, a member of Lance Armstrong’s US postal team. It’s a great book that shows what winning at any cost can do to people. Even if you’re not into cycling, it’s an honest and compelling account of a guy thrown into a rotten system and the disastrous results this had for him and the people around him. We too often look for the villain in an individual when, in actual fact, it’s the system that is to blame.