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Starting a business is a difficult process and starting a successful business is even more difficult.
But with knowledge, experience and the right supports, it is achievable as Hilda Mackey of K Mack Engineering can attest to.
Last year, Hilda and her son Karl set out to start their own company.
This month, K Mack Engineering is celebrating one year in business and Hilda credits the Local Enterprise Office as being a large part of their success.
Ahead of Local Enterprise Week 2019, which runs from March 4 to 8 and includes over 300 events nationwide, Hilda is sharing her experience in launching her business and the part that the Local Enterprise Office is playing in its continued growth.
Hilda got in touch with her Local Enterprise Office in the initial stages of starting K Mack Engineering, having previously worked on projects that they had been involved in she was aware of the various supports that she could avail of.
"I was aware of the Local Enterprise Offices and I was aware what help they could give," said Hilda.
"So, we had the idea and we were going with it and I had the contacts in there so I made contact with them.
"I could see that there was potential for more employment and I knew I needed specialised equipment."
Having started out with just four employees, K Mack Engineering now employs 30 highly skilled Project Engineers and Fabricators.
K Mack Engineering were eligible for Local Enterprise Office (LEO) financial assistance which enabled them to grow their staff.
As well as working at sites in Cork and Limerick, K Mack Engineering are currently putting some buildings up at Dublin Port and have previously worked at Dublin Airport.
"It was a very good contract to get," Hilda says of the Dublin Port project.
Without the funding that K Mack Engineering received from the LEO for capital equipment, the company would have been unable to take on the contracts at Dublin Port and Dublin Airport.
"I have a fully equipped 30,000 sq ft facility here now with 30 staff. It’s happened so quickly because I was able to invest in the equipment and I was able to get the employment grant from the LEO."
The LEO offers more than just financial support to companies, providing advice, information and support to businesses that are starting out or looking to expand.
"They were always there. Any time you make a phonecall they would point you in the right direction," said Hilda.
The LEO offer courses, seminars, advice clinics and more. It is a first stop shop for business support services.
Oisin Geoghegan, Chair of Network of Local Enterprise Offices, explains: "We provide a whole range of enterprise supports directly to businesses and we work with other agencies and organisations who are involved in supporting enterprise to make sure that clients have a very clear path and idea as to what support services are available to them.
"We (the local enterprise offices) deal with businesses and individuals who are thinking of starting up a business or start-up so whether you are thinking of setting up a new business or whether you are in the process of actually getting started or if you are running a business and are looking for support services, the Local Enterprise Office is there to provide help and support to you."
Whether you are in the pre-start, start-up or growth phase in your business, "every step of the way on your enterprise journey, the Local Enterprise Office is there to provide support services and assistance."
During Local Enterprise Week 2019, the LEOs have organised over 300 events around that country, all designed to help businesses to plan, start or grow in 2019.
Hilda has already signed up for the LEAN programme and an owner/manager programme.
During the five days of Local Enterprise Week 2019, she will be attending one of a number of events in Tipperary.
"I've signed in for Transform Your Business on March 6 in Nenagh," Hilda said.
While it is not yet known what impact Brexit will have, businesses such as K Mack Engineering are doing what they can to be as prepared as possible.
For Hilda, the provision of raw materials is a concern post-Brexit as their steel mainly comes from the UK.
"The business clinics that are coming up will be giving advice on customs and excise and different information for post-Brexit."
The events held over the course of the five days will cover a variety of topics and issues facing companies of all sizes.
Some of the events include:
The Local Enterprise Week will see the LEOs and businesses around Ireland #MakingItHappen in 2019.
As for K Mack Engineering, Hilda and her team are taking a moment to take stock after a successful first year and are looking ahead to the next progressive step in developing the business.
“The next stage is to build our own custom designed workshop and offices. Hopefully in the next year or two," said Hilda.
As they take head into their second year, Hilda says that she knows that the LEO "will be there and they will guide me".
Funding for Local Enterprise Offices, which work in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and local authorities, is provided by the Government of Ireland through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
To find out what events are taking place near you for Local Enterprise Week, please visit www.localenterprise.ie/localenterpriseweek