Operating out of Greenhills Industrial Village in Drogheda, Parry Engineering Consultancy Ltd’s expertise includes engineering design, design management, project management, troubleshooting/forensic engineering as well as due diligence. Building Ireland touched base with Managing Director Hugh Parry to learn all about the company – from its origins to the overall state of business today.
Hugh Parry is a Chartered Engineer and a member of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) who has been involved in the building services industry for more than two decades now.
Established as Parry Dougan Associates in 2009, Hugh set out with the aim of providing a specialist service for their clients.
The company rebranded as Parry Engineering Consultancy Ltd in 2019 with Hugh running the operation from Drogheda.
Building Ireland caught up with the Welsh native and Cardiff University graduate to find out more about the business and why clients choose it first for their engineering consultancy needs.
“Essentially, we set out to provide M&E consultancy services with a focus on building asset management. The business is borne out of a particular understanding of building owners and occupiers needs, a broader subject than just engineering design,” Hugh outlined.
“We are a small operation, based on my experience in the field, with specialist knowledge of services brought in as required. For example, if I need a specific element of design work done, or drawings or specialist surveys, I have a list of people that will do that.
“So, whilst some elements of work is outsourced where necessary, it is managed in-house. That’s a function of the type of work that we predominately do.”
Hugh himself has been at the forefront of engineering design and asset management, having been engaged with large organisations such as Faber Maunsell/AECOM, Buro Happold, BDP, Operon, the BBC and Hoare Lea & Partners.
His work within these companies has been in building services, engineering design, design management, project management, troubleshooting, due diligence, facilities management and property asset management.
After moving from the UK to Ireland, it didn’t take long for Hugh to set-up Parry Dougan Associates, initially alongside Frank Dougan and now, 13 years on from its inception, he’s out on his own with his own venture.
“Over in the UK at that time, M&E asset management was more established there than over here,” said the Managing Director. “Typically, a chartered building surveyor would advise clients on either purchase or disposal of buildings, or long-term life cycles, maintenance or building investments funds.
“Traditionally over here that role of building surveyors would include the M&E services.
“In the UK, it was more of a specialised whereby you’d get a building surveyor plus a specialist M&E engineers and sometimes a specialist QS and they’d all tie in as a team to do that kind of work.
“So, that was my primary role with Buro Happold over there and when I came over to Ireland to join AECOM, part of my role was to bring that element of the asset management work into the wider remit of the M&E group.
“Then, of course, we hit the downturn crash back in 2008/2009 and the whole M&E division was disbanded, effectively.
“So, I continued and I kept contacts with clients and myself and Frank set-up initially.”
Today, over three quarters of work that Parry Engineering Consultancy Ltd carries out for its clients is “due diligence work”, as Hugh himself explained.
“If you look at it in proportioned terms, 75-80 per cent of the work is due diligence work and I put that in a broad bracket because that encompasses doing building surveys for potential investment purchase or for vendors who are looking to sell buildings. It also includes doing feasibility studies on potential upgrade projects and doing dilapidation works for landlord and tenant,” he said. Typically, we do work for chartered building surveyor firms or large institutional clients such as IPUT, Irish Life Investment Managers and State Street Asset Managers, as well as individual clients.
“I’ve also branched personally into doing expert work for litigation and legal cases.
“Sometimes this leads to follow-on design work, so we still do the traditional M&E design but, generally speaking, it’s on a smaller scale so we wouldn’t be competing directly with the bigger M&E consultancies in that regard.
“It’s more smaller scale stuff for us, whether it be office fit-outs or small retail units, that kind of thing.”
While the Covid-19 pandemic, and the government lockdowns which followed, will have certainly affected his clients, Hugh is glad to report that business has remained steady over the past 24 months.
The fact that he runs a small operation in Drogheda also meant that he didn’t have to lay off employees or see them going on the PUP payment scheme either. Thankfully, we were able to remain busy, despite many parts of the economy slowing down” said Hugh.
“It did stop at the very start but a lot of what we were doing was deemed essential. A lot of what we do is not just ‘what condition is it in’ but it’s also ‘does it comply’, so, issues relating to building regulations compliance and Health & Safety.
So, that considered, the burning question is what has been the secret to the success of Parry Engineering Consultancy Ltd so far?
How has a start-up grown into a thriving consultancy venture which has an excellent reputation amongst its clients?
For Hugh, a lot of it comes down to the fact that he is as much business-focused as he is engineering-focused for his clients.
“To an extent, it’s because of the specialism that I went into,” said the MD. “It was more established where I started doing that over in the UK, so it’s coming from a better understanding perhaps of the end user’s requirement.
“Although it’s gradually changing, many engineers typically tend to be very engineering-focused and less focused on the clients’ business concerns. This is not a criticism of other engineers, simply a comment on the traditional role of M&E engineers in the industry.
“When you’re being appointed by someone to advise them on a building, it’s potentially a big investment for them because they may well have to invest quite a bit of money in replacing air-conditioning systems or electrical systems for example. When you consider that the M&E systems make up typically 25-30% of the construction cost of a commercial building, and that these systems may have to be replaced more than once during the life of the building, to my mind it’s very valuable advice that we’re giving them.
“From an engineering point of view, you can be quite dry in the way that you present this information to them and it’s not stuff that they necessarily need to know. So, we picked up very early on that you need to get into the mindset of the client and present them with the information that they want to know and can easily understand.
“I think that we’ve got into a very good niche of doing that and we give them the information that they want in the right format that they want. I can’t explain it any better than that and we’re fortunate that it leads to a lot of repeat business.
Looking towards future for his business, Hugh is hopeful that he can start looking at expansion down the line.
It is, after all, the goal which Parry Engineering Consultancy Ltd has set out to achieve.
“It’s a constant question for us in terms of expansion,” he stated. “It’s a difficult place in the market at the moment because it’s an employee’s market to a certain extent and the danger with that is can you sustain the work to keep somebody fully occupied?
“There’s a critical mass at which point you kind of generate the additional business for the people that you have and, I suppose, my hopes for the company are that we get to that point where we can sustain that critical mass and I can actually start expanding and start to bring more people on board.
“That’s the end game but we do live in uncertain times. Sure, things are getting back to normal but there are all sorts of other things going on at the moment like the war Ukraine, which has the potential for a slowdown on the back of inflation.”
He concluded: “Who knows? But, look, you still have to press ahead and, if I was to speak to that, the goal is to achieve a level of expansion for the company.”
Parry Engineering Consultancy Ltd
Unit 9 Greenhills Industrial Village,
E-mail: [email protected]
Tel: 041 983 0365
Mobile: 087 950 1615
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, August 2022, Vol 8 No 8