As a former football boss, Eamonn McCarthy knows a thing or two about successful management and, as the Belfast man undertakes his next career challenge, he’s planning to take Haldane Fisher into a league of their own.
Eamonn steered Newington FC to a famous giant-killing win over Glentoran in the Irish Cup – one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history – while he also guided the club from the amateur league into the Irish League.
But now the focus is on producing a winning performance as Associate Director for Plumbing & Heating at Haldane Fisher, after taking over from the recently retired Alan Shiells.
“This is a great challenge and I’m excited about the opportunities we can create,” he said. “I started in April and I had the opportunity to work with Alan for six weeks, which has proved invaluable.
“I’ve been impressed with what is already in place and that gives me a great foundation to build on.”
While Haldane Fisher is predominantly known as a builder’s merchants, the company’s Plumbing & Heating Division has been a success in its own right. Eamonn’s appointment is part of a range of wider changes to the management structure at Haldane Fisher aimed at delivering ambitious growth plans.
With dedicated plumbing and heating trade counters at nine branches across Northern Ireland, alongside corresponding bathroom showrooms, Eamonn feels the company is well positioned to move forward. Having worked in the industry for 22 years, including 17 years with PTS, he is planning on putting this experience to good use.
“My career at PTS covered a lot of changes, with the company starting as the independent Spendlove C.Jebb before being taken over by PTS and then Travis Perkins. So while I was with one company, I had experience with a lot of different operating practices which has given me a lot of different insights.
“I’m grateful for my time with PTS and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today without that grounding in the industry. But this is a fresh challenge for me and I aim to put that experience to good use.
“The Plumbing & Heating Division is strong, so we are certainly not starting from scratch at Haldane Fisher and, personally, that was one of the attractions to the job. It is not just a bolt onto a builder’s merchants, but a dedicated plumbing and heating service in its own right. A lot of the main areas are already covered – now it is a case of seeing where and how we can improve.”
Part of the process of finding out where the company can improve has involved Eamonn talking to both staff and customers.
“Knowing your customers is vital and we’ve opened up a communication process to get their feedback – both good and bad. That way we can react in a positive way. It’s a tough marketplace and installers are being faced with more savvy customers who are more clued in than ever about what they want.
“We’re part of the overall supply chain, so we have to make sure our staff are fully informed and have the tools to deliver the best possible service. Providing added value is a key factor and I believe we have the people and the products in place to deliver this. When it comes to price, the difference can be pence, so service is where you make the real difference.”
That service mantra is one that is at the heart of Eamonn’s philosophy, but it is more than just sales patter.
“Haldane Fisher has been in business for over 70 years, so that’s more than just luck. We’ve a great story to tell, with well-located branches, superb stock levels of market-leading products and a strong brand. More importantly, we’re going places.
“At the moment we are investing in our trade counters and showrooms and customers will start to see a lot of changes over the next 12 months which, we believe, which make a significant difference.
“We’re also adding new products all the time and keeping customers informed about the latest industry developments. It’s all about building partnerships.”
With these specifics in place, one vital ingredient will be having the right people to implement the changes.
“I’ve been to all our branches and the quality of our staff is impressive,” Eamonn enthused. “We have a lot of experience but, just as importantly, we have people who know this industry inside out and are working hard for our customers. That is vital and gives us the right tools to move forward.
“These are exciting times for the company it is very much a case of watch this space!”