“Necessity is the mother of all invention,” says Niall Barrett on the success of his new farm equipment, which is designed to make potentially hazardous work involving cattle crushes safer and more manageable.
The farmer and inventor, who just won the overall county award at the Galway County and City Enterprise Awards, first saw the need for improved cattle handling equipment on his own farm, when he had problems getting cattle up the crush, a problem that will be familiar to many farmers.
Niall, who studied Agricultural Engineering in England, developed the Anti-Backing Bar and Head Scoop, which, he says, offers increased flexibility over other similar products on the market, as they can easily be attached to any type of cattle crush, unlike other models, which must be fixed or set in concrete.
Clearly, farmers are seeing the value in these products, and Niall has sold in the region of 1,500 units of each product.
With Teagasc estimating that there are over 100,000 cattle farmers in Ireland and farm safety now a number one issue (17 farmers died in workplace incidents in 2012), there is plenty of scope to increase these figures, while he hopes to move into the UK and has already sold products in Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Skye.
However, he is going to have to step further out of the farmyard and into the office if he is to keep that momentum going, and marketing, he says, will be key to his company’s continued success.
“A lot of people still don’t know about it, because we would have marketed it through shows, mainly, and a lot of people don’t go to shows and we have to kind of target them. That’s why we’ve got the website up and running,” he says, praising Galway County and City Enterprise CEO, Breda Fox and her team for her help in that regard.
As one of many entrepreneurs that have benefited from the assistance of the Galway County and City Enterprise Board over the years, Niall knows the value of their knowledge and expertise to an emerging enterprise.
However, having waited until his business, N Barrett Engineering, was up and running before seeking assistance, his advice to fledgling companies in Galway City and County is to go straight to the Enterprise Board and see what’s on offer, both in funding and mentoring.
“They are very helpful and in a lot of cases, I suppose, if you don’t look for things, you definitely won’t get them,” he says. “At the same time, going forward, a lot of companies should know that there is funding available for them and not to be try to do it all themselves.”
Niall approached the Enterprise Board to bring his company to another level as regards production and says they are coming into their own as regards breaking into the markets in Scotland and England and Wales.
Niall currently employs two people locally at their Ballymacward base and hopes to expand this to three later this year and four next year.
“We’d hope to have new products at Tullamore Show and the Ploughing Championships this year. So we’re aiming to bring at least one new product every year and take it from there,” he says.
For more information on the Anti-Backing Bar or the Head Scoop, visit barrettengineering.ie, or for more information on Galway County and City Enterprise Board, see www.galwayenterprise.ie.