TPI Group are 25 years old this week. I walked the floor for the 10,000th time this am. The buzz I felt seeing pallets of quality work flying by me gave me a feeling of real pride in the team we have here and the milestone we have just reached together. A long journey from very humble beginnings but it sure doesn’t feel like a quarter of a century since we opened up with small ambitions, very little work and even less money. That must be a good sign. The feeling that it flew by in the twinkle of an eye.
I can remember clearly our first factory in Finglas, North Dublin. It was 3,300 square feet and quiet honestly for a while we needed far less space for the work that we had. I remember our first years’ turnover. It was E400k which seemed like a massive sum that year but it really wasn’t. I remember the starting team by first name and I remember the nervous smiles I would receive as they swept the clean floor and washed the clean windows just to stay busy. I even remember our first bad dept. It was E10.5k and it stings me a little even now to think how painful and scary it was back then.
Everything grew very quickly, with the exception of the size of our bad debts. We hired well, spent only when we had the money in the bank and ran the place quite tightly. The 1990’s were not a great time for business in Ireland. Then, as now, money was too tight to mention. There was a Simply Red song by that name which summed up the era wonderfully well. (Here it is on YouTube if it doesn’t ring a bell). But then, as now, there is always room for a new supplier if they are nimble enough, have the hunger to take some market share and they have the ‘we can do’ attitude clients like suppliers to have. We pushed ourselves quite hard back then, long hours and many weekends working hard were the norm, and the market responded to our efforts.
We grew our TPI team, from one 5-a-side indoor soccer team in 1990 to two American Football teams now, but we somehow managed to keep the standard up. We somehow managed to keep the hard working ‘can-do’ attitude and we genuinely kept the client at the heart of our thinking. There were a few times this decade when things looked quite grim, when our size here became an anchor instead of a float. A few times when the worry and the doubt made it a bloody hard job to face into each morning.
But if I am honest they were few and flitting. The daily pleasure of running this business outweighed the tough days 1000 to 1. I would like to sincerely thank the clients, the TPI team members past and present, the share-holders past and present, the long term suppliers, the other halves for the late nights and the weekends without their loved one…it is a long list. I guess everyone who played their part in making TPI what it has become today at 25. You know who you are and I bet you know exactly what I mean. Year 26 has started today and be sure we are back hard at it once more.
Colin Culliton | CEO |email@example.com | 01 4089 222 | 087 2565 321