T O’Higgins Homevalue’s exemplary customer service acknowledged

16 May , 2024  

Firmly established as Galway’s premier builders providers and hardware store, T O’Higgins Homevalue has been looking after customers’ every need for 85 years and counting. As the standard-setting store’s outstanding levels of customer service were recognised with not one but two United in Excellence Awards, Building Ireland sat down with CEO Paul O’Shaughnessy to find out more.

Busy and long-established Galway city builders provider T O’Higgins Homevalue was amongst the big winners at United Hardware’s 2023 United in Excellence Awards, taking home two prestigious prizes on a night that celebrated industry excellence in Carlow’s Mount Wolseley Hotel Spa & Golf Resort on Thursday, October 12th.

The leading building materials and hardware provider to builders and home dwellers throughout Galway city (and county) since 1938, T O’Higgins Homevalue struck gold in both the Best Regional Store in Connacht and Best Paint Store in Connacht categories, much to the obvious delight of amiable CEO Paul O’Shaughnessy, who has been instrumental in the recent reimagining and rejuvenation of this renowned and historical store, which has been an inherent part of the building, hardware and DIY sectors as well as the greater community in Galway for eight-and-a-half decades.

“It was great to pick up those awards – fair play to United Hardware for choosing us and fair play to our own crew. It’s nice to be at to this level and to get this kind of recognition. It’s been a journey to get there, but we got there, and we are very, very proud of everybody involved in the store.

“As a store, we have achieved a lot over the years, not least in the last five years since our relocation to new premises, a move which saw us double our capacity and really begin to take things to the next level. The old site was very tight for space and without that move we simply wouldn’t have been able to deliver what we have – for our customers, staff, suppliers and in terms of deliveries.

“The United in Excellence awards mean a lot to the business, the standard is improving all the time. I personally can’t stand any form of regression, I hate going backwards, that’s just me and how I am, but I am always looking for improvement. The whole team I feel buy into the same idea. Improving systems, standards and procedures, giving good customer service, being polite and courteous to colleagues, customers and suppliers is hugely important.

“Every facet of the business has to be involved, small improvements on a regular basis, getting to these levels and keeping the business there is where we want to be. It was a fantastic night on October 12th and hopefully we will be there or thereabouts again next year. It’s a huge credit to the whole crew. Awards like this give a real vote of confidence to the younger members of the team, in particular.”

Paul dedicates the two awards to T O’Higgins Homevalue’s staff and customers, both of whom have made an immeasurable contribution towards the business’s success over the years: “We have a fantastic customer base. I’m with them eleven years, since 2012, and a lot of the same guys who were coming in during my first week are still coming in today.

“There are excellent relationships between our staff and our customers. The staff probably see some of the customers almost as much as they see their own family members at home, so a strong bond does build up and that’s something we want to maintain.

“The same goes for our staff. The same guys who were here when I joined T O’Higgins in 2012 are still here and they are extremely dedicated to their jobs and to looking after customers. Their great work over the years has paid off. They stuck at it through good times and bad and I couldn’t have asked for more from any of the team.”

The fact that T O’Higgins Homevalue have been delivering the goods for 85 years, surviving the test of time, speaks volumes for the quality of the products and service provided. “The business started in 1938 and Michéal Ó hUiginn, who is the retired MD now, took over in the 1960s. Michael is extremely proud of the crew, for their great work every day and for claiming two United in Excellence awards. To have such longevity and to be reaching such high standards after all these years is a great achievement.

“Micheal appointed me CEO almost two years ago, at the time of his retirement. We had worked together building a strong foundation for the business to grow and develop from and I was honoured to be entrusted with the future of the business, and given the opportunity to continue our great work.

“We have an excellent team here at T O’Higgins, including our trading manager John O’Donovan, inventory manager Lynn Kelly and finance manager Martina Carr. Together we do our very best to provide a high standard of customer service and that is only possible because of the our vastly experienced and knowledgeable team. The business has grown beyond our expectations and that’s down to our loyal customers.

“I joined T O’Higgins Ltd. in September 2012, having met Micheal while I was working for United Hardware (AHL at the time) through a mutual colleague. I had been working on store developments around the country at the time; Michael asked me after a trial period of a few weeks to come in as the business manager.”

Reflecting upon the many changes that were made to the store and the business since his arrival, Paul continues: “T O’Higgins had a great tradition in the city and there were some really good experienced and knowledgeable people here in 2012. Although naturally some people don’t like change, it’s just human nature! But I felt everyone here at the time wanted the business to go forward after a few difficult years, knowing what I could bring to the business and understanding the business over the first few weeks, it started to show signs of improvement, I suppose a ‘big ship takes a long time to turn’ but, by 2014, it was really starting to come into line.

“We moved into our new premises – which was the old T O’Higgins manufacturing site approximately 150m down the road – on April 30th, 2018. There was about two years of planning and moving behind that date and a lot of snow that March but we got there. It was a great move, we have a facility now that covers all of our stock with a one-way drive-through for customers. The shop is integrated into the same building and in its entirety the building covers just over 100,000 sq ft. We genuinely do have everything under one roof, lots of customer parking and a shopfront onto the main Rahoon Road.”

Paul can’t emphasis enough how indebted he feels to the 30+ staff at T O’Higgins Homevalue: “The team we have at the moment is fantastic,” he reiterates. “We have a great mix of all ages, including five young individuals in their early 20s who have been involved in the business since their transition years and opted to take up employment here as a career. I believe in bringing young people into the business. We have a lot of experience in place, in sales, warehousing and inventory, everyone is learning from each other and the atmosphere in the business is brilliant.

“The young guys are keeping us on our toes with new ideas, and the rest of us are passing on what we know from our experience. Noel Lowry is a great example of the calibre of employee we have – Noel is a joiner by trade who used to run his own workshop and the level of service and knowledge he imparts to customers is unrivalled. Obviously, training is provided on an ongoing basis. It’s working really well. Building the team for the future is key, we have a low staff turnover and people seem to be genuinely happy in their work.”

From a position where there were genuine fears around 2011-12 that T O’Higgins Homevalue might have to close its doors, the award-winning business has come a long way. “When I looked at the business back then, the customers were mostly trade and some DIY enthusiasts,” Paul recalls. “I never broke from that original identity of the shop I inherited.

“I never broke that mould of a good solid builders providers and hardware store that is very tight in the local community. We have been supplying building materials and hardware for over 80 years; all we have done really is got better at what we do.

“Fresh green shoots started to appear for the first time in 2014. We were building up towards that move in 2018 and all our projections and figures for growth were based on that move going ahead and being a success. Thankfully, it has exceeded our expectations and now our aspiration is to become widely recognised as the best builders providers and hardware store in Galway city, based on customer service, looking after people in the area and making sure we are the very best we can be.

“We can’t grow without the input of our customers,” the progressive store CEO concludes. “I welcome and embrace their feedback at all times and see that as one of the keys to how we can improve our service. If it wasn’t for the people here in Galway city supporting us and coming to our store, T O’Higgins wouldn’t be where we are today.

“We are very grateful to our customers for their loyalty and continued support and we will strive to keep repaying them by consistently providing unbeatable products, value and service.”

T O’Higgins Homevalue,

Rahoon Road,


Tel: 091 522 411

Email: [email protected]

Web: tohiggins.com

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, April 2024, Vol 10 No 4