Trish Dromey looks at a Valentia-based business making waves in the competitive world of boat building.
MANY things are made possible by the Internet — including the sale across Europe of fishing boats made by Murphy Marine Services on the small island of Valentia off the south-west coast of Ireland.
“Five minutes after we launch a boat we can put the photos on the Internet — it’s like having a shop window. We use Facebook and advertise on findafishingboat.com and probably get more business from online enquiries than anywhere else,’’ says founder and managing director Fionán Murphy.
With its online presence, the company now sells to customers in Scotland, England, Norway, Holland, France, Belgium, and also Greece.
finalist in this year’s National Enterprise Awards, Mr Murphy has been building boats on Valentia since 2008.
Turning a fit-out and repair business into a manufacturing operation was made possible by the purchase, with the help of Kerry Local Enterprise Office, of a mould tool from well-established UK company Cygnus Marine when it closed.
“I bought the mould and the rights for the Cyclone, one of Cygnus’s most sought after boats, which is synonymous with safety, reliability and efficiency,” says Mr Murphy explaining that he saw an opportunity to use this mould to develop a range of boats.
Registering the Cygnus trademark and establishing Murphy Marine as a limited company, he engaged the services of an agent in Antwerp and began advertising on the Internet.
It was 2008, Ireland was entering recession so his focus was on the UK and mainland Europe.
The first sale was to a Belgian customer who bought a Cyclone 30 after seeing it advertised on the web.
Over the next few years the company worked on building a reputation for building quality custom-made boats.
The Cyclone range now includes six models and continues to be the most popular.
But Mr Murphy has also purchased other Cygnus moulds and now offers a range of 12 models on his website.
“In 2015 we again got help from Kerry Local Enterprise Office to buy the mould for the Cygnus Typhoon which can be built up to 45ft and is now our largest model,” says Mr Murphy, adding that work has now commenced on the construction of the company’s first Typhoon for a customer in Donegal.
Since 2008, Murphy Marine has built 28 boats and is expecting to build six more this year. With assistance from the Leader programme, the company expanded the boatyard in Valentia to 8,500 sq ft in 2013.
Now employing a staff of 10, the company is in the process of recruiting two more and expects to have 14 people by the end of the year. Mr Murphy estimates that sales have been growing by 5% to 10% every year.
Since the economy improved here, the market has picked up and the Typhoon for Donegal will be its fifth Irish sale.
“I don’t think we could do this to the same scale without the Internet. It would take a massive amount of marketing,” says Mr Murphy.
He says its success is becuause of the reputation of the Cygnus brand and its ability to produce high-quality and custom-made boats.
Not relying solely on the Internet, he and his Belgian sales agent regularly attend trade shows in across the rest of Europe.
Plans for the future include growing sales in the French market.
Mr Murphy also sees increased opportunities to sell passenger vessels to service the marine tourism sector here and acrss the rest of Europe.
Company: Murphy Marine Services
Location: Valentia, Co Kerry
Managing director: Fionán Murphy
Business: boat builder
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