Ambitious Instrotec strives for further growth

29 Jan , 2024  

Set-up in 2000, Instrotec Ltd provides its clients with the best in Electrical, Instrumentation and Speciality Pipe Fitting services. Building Ireland touched base with Managing Director and co-founder Donal Johnston to hear all about the business, its current projects and overall hopes going forward.

These are busy times at Instrotec Ltd and the hopes for co-founders Donal (MD) and Donna Johnston (Director), along with the well-established Senior Management team, are to try and keep things that way for the foreseeable.

With circa 350 full-time staff currently on its books, the company provides services and support for its clients in the Life Sciences, Semi-Conductor, Data Centres, Healthcare and Oil & Gas sectors.

Included its direct staff, Instrotec Ltd also has close to 150 apprentices as part of its team in Westpoint as it continues to strive for growth 23 years on from its inception.

In November, its Apprenticeship Programme was one of three finalists shortlisted in the namesake category at the annual Irish Construction Industry (ICI) Awards at Dublin’s Mansion House.

Building Ireland touched base with Donal Johnston to hear about the nomination, as well as the ins and outs of he and his wife’s business and some of the toughest challenges its facing at the present time.

“We have just over 350 direct staff and within that we have 155 apprentices,” he outlined. “Now we did peak in January of this year, we broke the 400 mark as we had a few major projects peaking at the same time. Intel would’ve been one of them and now they’re all on the ramp down at the moment.

“Our biggest issue at the minute is getting new staff to fulfil our current and growing project demands.”

Nonetheless, Instrotec Ltd continues to deliver for big name clients such as Mercury Engineering, Winthrop Technologies, Kirby Group, Jones Engineering, Exyte and Kaefer, just to name a few.

“One of our biggest projects there in the last two years was Intel Fab 34,” said Donal.

“We were lucky enough to be successful executing the installation of the instrumentation and controls, both electrically and mechanically, for the whole project, including startup and pre-commissioning. All in all, we had 250 personnel at peak on that project across the three contracts, and over the last two and a half years.

“The base build scope has been on the ramp down now since February last. Typically, after a big Intel project, after two years work alone on it, you do see a drop off in staff.”

He continued: “Right now, we’re working on three phases on a data centre project for Winthrop Technologies in the Grange Castle campus, our responsibility there is the full electrical installation, including containment, cabling, general services, lighting and fire alarm.

“That is probably our biggest project in Ireland currently with just over 100 staff gainfully employed.

“We engaged with Winthrop Technologies at the back end of last year, seeking an opportunity to tender work with them, and thankfully we were successful. The project commenced Q3 of 2022 and it is due to finish I would say in April/May of 2024.”

Elsewhere, the company is currently immersed in work in Ireland on the National Children’s Hospital – a project it’s likely to remain on until the start of summer 2024 – while it has also broke ground on Power Station projects in Corduff, Co Dublin and Shannonbridge, Co Offaly for Mercury Engineering, as well as Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical in Limerick and has another on-going project closer to home on the Corrib Gas Terminal with Kaefer.

Instrotec Ltd has also made some expansions across Europe recently too, as it continues to focus on data centres in different parts of the continent for its clientele.

Instrotec GMBH was set-up at the start of this year, while the end of 2022 saw Instrotec UK established, and Donal and his team are currently in the process of setting up an entity in The Netherlands also.

“We just completed a sizeable data centre project for Mercury Engineering in CPH3, in Copenhagen through our Danish entity Instrotec APS, which was a full electrical installation,” the Achill Island native explained.

“We’re currently executing BMS projects in Berlin with ThermoSystems, Frankfurt is very busy for us also, we just secured another project with Winthrop Technologies, which is FR10X, and we are tendering many more projects there as Frankfurt has a multitude of data centres on its cards, and Germany as a whole is going to be inundated with construction projects over the next few years.”

It’s a company that is always looking towards the future, as its nomination for the Apprenticeship Programme Award at the 2023 ICI Awards suggests.

The Managing Director also revealed details of a fresh programme for Instrotec’s apprentices which has got up and running in recent times.

“As for our apprentices, we have commenced this year with a training academy for them,” he stated.

“Due to the nature of our work, and the vastness of the electrical trade, we as a company decided to establish a training facility that will give our apprentices comprehensive training in all aspects of the industry, for example, domestic electrical installations, security alarm systems, motor control, etc., to date the feedback has been great.”

As ever, Health & Safety and Quality remains very much the priority for Instrotec Ltd with the company’s focus being the safe delivery of quality projects and services on time and to specification.

Looking towards the months ahead for the business, Donal says he’s eager to see the business grow where it can with an ambition to increase its annual turnover year on year over the next few years. 

“The hopes are to continue to meet our client’s needs, while expanding our client base, and in turn grow the company somewhat more.

“I’d like to take the company from where it is now and into the next phase. The challenges that we are facing now are recruiting additional staff for new projects, at home and abroad, in light of the current market demands. It’s a struggle but hopefully we can push on, expand the business and be in a healthier place, and I know with the great management team that we have I am positive we will achieve our goals.

“So, it’s about trying to get that balance right and try and grow and expand where we can. I’d like to see the company in the next three to four years hopefully doubling its turnover. That would be my hope and I know that we are well capable of it,” he concluded.

Instrotec Ltd
Instrotec Limited Unit E2,
Co Mayo
F28 PC98
Tel: +353 (0)9839100
Email: [email protected]

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, February 2024, Vol 10 No 2