Colm Gribben remembers very clearly his first project in the Republic of Ireland. His company Viltra, based in Newry, was tasked with solving the waste water problems for the new visitor centre at Fanad lighthouse in Donegal. It turned out to be a crucial juncture for the business.
“It really is an iconic site, when you step off the plane at Dublin airport, you see the picture of that lighthouse. What you don’t realise it that all the landscape around it, means you have to be very creative when it comes to wastewater management. We designed and installed a bespoke system. All our skills came in. That’s when we got the reputation as real problem solvers across Ireland” says Colm.
A Crucial Decision
Viltra has been in business for 13 years. Their clients in Northern Ireland now include the National Trust. However, at one point, it was touch and go. The property crash had a big impact on the business. “We were in survival mode. I realised that if we were going to keep going I had to look elsewhere. We looked at new technology and new markets. I vowed that we would never be reliant on one market again. Diversifying was key for us” says Colm.
Funding up to 50% for a sales person
Colm applied to InterTradeIreland’s sales and marketing programme, Acumen. Under the programme his company was eligible to get 50% funding towards the salary of a sales person to grow his business cross-border. “Having a guy out on the road for us in the South, made a huge difference. He built a database of architects and engineers, he was knocking doors and then one day, we got an enquiry about Fanad lighthouse. Now 25 to 30% of our turnover comes from Ireland and I’m confident it will grow” adds Colm.
“If you have the chance to do the Acumen programme, what’s stopping you? Right from the beginning, when you first start to talk to someone about Acumen, you are learning. The application process and the advice the consultants gave me as part of the programme was a big help. It was like I had 10 people working for me. I learned an awful lot about my competitors and the market I was trading into.”
If you would be interested in taking part in Acumen to grow your business, gain new customers and new sustainable income, you can find out more at www.intertradeireland.com/acumen
Find out more about Colm's journey below.