Carbon Group is an Irish SME with a remarkable track record of successful supply into all of Ireland’s key Life Science, manufacturing as well as construction sectors.
Carbon serves customers in: Pharmaceuticals, Bio-pharmaceuticals, Medical Device, Cosmetics, Veterinary, Beverage, Dairy, Infant Formula, General Industry and Construction.
Continuing to push through the pandemic with a sense of confidence and resilience, this Irish-owned firm is fast approaching the notable milestone of 55 years in business, and employs 55 people directly.
“Carbon Group is a privately owned company geared to serve the needs of large multinationals right down to the smaller SMEs,” explains Brian Walsh, CEO, Carbon Group.
With well over a half-century in business, the company has a long history of supplying blue-chip companies operating throughout Ireland, and abroad, and specifically across the Life Sciences sector.
“What we offer our customers is a broad range of products that they can source from one supplier. This allows us to build an in-depth knowledge of our customers’ needs.”
In addition to supply, Carbon Group can blend and package products to meet the exact customer specification. “All our products and services involve the supply of specification-driven products to business customers.”
From its Cork plant, Carbon Group’s focus is on chemicals and food ingredient products, with customers ranging from global multinational organisations down to local SME producers. In addition to supplying the local Irish manufacturing sites of its customers, the company’s export business is experiencing continuous growth, with sales to the UK, EU countries, the Americas and Asia.
The company’s Dublin facility ‘The Carbon Paint Centre’ is focused on high-quality coatings with specialist corrosion and chemical resistant offerings. The team there have expertise working with architects, engineers and paint contractors to meet customer-specific requirements and now also offer antibacterial paints to help combat Covid-19.
“We have been very busy in 2020/21 managing Covid, while also meeting critical market needs presented by the pandemic, such as ingredients for hand sanitisers, biocidal sprays and increased demands from companies producing medicines. We are fortunate that even in a pandemic people still need food and medicines. This has resulted in an increased demand for us to facilitate clients’ needs.”
Many of Carbon Group’s employees live in the immediate locality and have been working with the company for many years.
“Our employees tend to stay with us,” says Deirdre Kennedy, HR Officer with the company. “Carbon Group is recognised as a reputable employer throughout Cork. We create a good working environment and invest in our employees through learning and development programs which is returned to us through loyalty over the years.”
Carbon Group works closely with other companies in the area to assist local community developments.
“We are also very proud of our involvement in local charities, and are happy to have sponsored some of the local clubs and community groups, such as the GAA, the Carrigaline Men’s Shed and the Owenabue Special Olympics club over the years.”
Employees also come together to fundraise every Christmas for Cork homeless charities by donating to foodbanks and organising fundraisers for the toy appeal. The company also chooses an annual beneficiary for a corporate donation, which in 2020 was the Irish Community Rapid Response — a charity close to the heart of a Carbon Group employee.
“We are a small team, and we rely on each other to achieve the end goal of supplying our customers in a safe and efficient manner. We are very dependent on an internal ethos of maintaining good communication, and even with working from home over the past year that has worked very well for us.”
Increased remote working over the last 12 months has encouraged more effective communication, an added benefit demonstrated by a contented workforce.
“That kind of benefit comes because people enjoy working within a company, and they know that if the company benefits, everybody benefits.”
Deirdre adds that every year Carbon Group takes on food, finance or engineering students from UCC or MTU, who are guided by mentors through their work placements.
“We always get good feedback that the students gain a wide variety of experience from their time with us, and many return to work with us when they graduate.”
Ger Webb, the sales manager for Industrial Chemicals, began his career with the company 22 years ago when the division’s focus was growing sales to the Irish dairy industry.
Ger has seen Carbon Group steadily evolve into a customer-focused producer of chemicals and processing aids for customers in the dairy, pharma, medical device and F&B industries.
A good example is Carbon Group’s focus on milk processors who produce milk powder specifically for infant formulation. Five years ago, EU legislation was passed on chlorate levels in infant formulation.
“We decided to investigate this more closely, and with a major commitment to R&D we led from the front and developed an ultra-low chlorate potassium and sodium hydroxide which was unique and specific as a processing aid for the infant formulation industry.” From this, Carbon Group has secured contracts over the last three years with milk powder processors in Ireland, U.K and mainland Europe.
“Of the 10 top global producers, we now have four dealing directly with us. This is a niche area for us, and one that we are focused on growing further,” Ger adds.
While the company remains dedicated to the supply and growth of traded products to the market such as ethanol, salts and various solvents, a focus on continued R&D of unique blended and manufactured products will assist in Carbon Group’s overall growth into the future.
The expansion of gin distillation in Ireland has also been kind to Carbon Group who supply a highly purity grain-derived alcohol specific to this industry.
“We have seen many of our customers receive world awards from using our material which is distilled no less than five times.”
Carbon Group’s Industrial Chemical division export to the Americas, UK, Netherlands, Italy and China. “These are territories that have shown increased growth over the past 18 months, and also bode well for the future of Carbon Group.”
- 55 years in business
- 55 employees
- 5,000 products/SKU’s
- 500+ customers
- 3 Divisions
- 3 Locations
- World Class Products;
- Global Sourcing;
- Compliance/Product Approval Specialists;
- On-site Storage, Blending and Packaging;
- Expertise in Import/ Export and Bulk Logistics
- Acids; Alkalis; Solvents; Bases; Salts; Speciality Chemicals; Food Ingredients; Coatings.
Carol Deegan, the Pharmachemicals Sales Manager, explains how she joined Carbon Group mid 1998 when the Pharma sector was beginning to become a significant part of the Irish economy.
“We commenced supplying a range of chemicals and solvents to this industry in Ireland and have had particular success growing sales to this sector and then expanding into the Biopharma, Medtech, Veterinary and Cosmetic industries”.
“Being located in Ringaskiddy, close to some of the major global Pharma/Biopharma companies, allowed Carbon to attract new business enquiries for product supply, specialist blends and repackaging. Today we supply to this sector throughout the whole of Ireland and production sites further afield.”
Over the years, the company has increased its product portfolio and now offers an extensive range of raw materials from reputable global producers, supported with excellent technical expertise, to the Irish market.
“We offer grades meeting various compendials such as EP, USP and JP. This range includes solvents, chemicals, speciality ingredients, amongst others," Carol added.
The company’s loyal customer base , with whom it has excellent business relationships, has enabled additional opportunities to supply approved products to their other global manufacturing sites.
With the expertise of its specialist sourcing team, Carbon Group successfully secures products to meet customers’ specific requirements from all parts of the globe, working closely with customers on new projects until they reach fruition.
Carbon Group has special blending facilities, with mixing tanks up to 25,000L, blending products such as Citric Acid, EDTA, Brine solutions etc. They can deliver the products in Bulk ISO tankers or in various pack sizes as specified by their customers. Carbon Group has specialist repackaging capabilities and offers a variety of materials to meet customer production, batch size and specification requirements.
The Solvent Storage Facility on site has 6 x 30,000L tanks holding Methanol, Toluene, Ethyl Acetate, Iso Propyl Alcohol, Acetone and Ethanol from which a range of pack sizes can be produced. The sources of these materials are from the same producers as the company provides to customers in bulk ISO tankers, thus ensuring back-up material is locally available with the same quality specifications.
CEO Brian Walsh recognises the importance of keeping one eye on the future of the industry.
“As well as closely monitoring our current customers’ ongoing and new requirements, we also keep ourselves abreast of future changes in production needs of our customers so that we are ready to react to any changes in raw material requirements. The pharma, biopharma and medtech industries continue to grow in Ireland and we remain dedicated to supporting these sectors during the current growth and beyond.”