How LEO Sligo supports helped ENGdoc forge ahead

How LEO Sligo supports helped ENGdoc forge ahead

 

In his home office, a converted bedroom, David Mullen worked day and night to get his first contract over the line.

“The company consisted of just me at the time and I knew how important it was to get this first job completed to a high standard and on time,” says David. That was 2006 when Engineering Documentation Ltd., or ENGdoc as it’s also known, took its first steps with Tim King also one of the founding Directors. A decade on, the company which was originally established to provide handover documentation and CAD drafting services to the construction sector, is thriving and on its tenth anniversary moved to new premises on Bridge Street in Sligo. There are now 14 staff and a satellite office in Meath.

David, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering from NUI Galway and of IT Sligo with a PgD (Post graduate Diploma). in Energy Management, didn’t so much spot a gap in the market for his solution-based services but rather recognised that a market could be created.“At the time construction companies were producing their own hand-over manuals and drawings – often as an afterthought. The manuals just weren’t seen as a priority and a lot of the time you’d have moved on to a new project before starting to put together the manual for the previous one. It meant the building owners and facilities management companies were sometimes operating in the dark,” he explains.

“So we had to manufacture a market offering a professional approach to Operation and Maintenance Manuals, Digital Safety Files and AutoCAD drawings. We looked at best practice abroad and were able to convince the construction sector that this was a service they needed and that we had the experience and expertise to deliver it,” he added.

The early phase of the business was challenging but David maintains the support and advice he received from Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Sligo made all the difference.“I wouldn’t just say the assistance was helpful - I would say it was critical to our survival and success. Within months of setting up I was welcomed into the IT Sligo Innovation Centre which meant, for the first time, I had a proper serviced office space from which to work. I secured supports from LEO Sligo which allowed me to employ highly qualified people and slowly but surely build the business,” says David. With the structure came a more sustainable working model. “I had been working from 8 in the morning to 10 at night to get the company up and running and so this new way of operating gave me some of my life back really,” he says.

Business Priming, and subsequently, Business Expansion grants meant the company could continue recruiting. “We could buy desks, chairs, computers, software licences, the basic essentials we needed. And the grant also helped us to cover downtime for essential business training,” says David. Additionally, working in association with LEO Sligo ensured that David was aware of supports to allow for product and market development. In 2011, LEO Sligo made a contribution to assist David travel to the Middle East where he successfully pitched for business in the UAE at a time when the construction sector in Ireland had slowed to walking pace.

“That support was crucial at that time,” he explains, adding “as there were fewer projects and new-builds there was less demand for our services so we had to look elsewhere. In 2009 we had to reduce our staff numbers in half from four to two. For months I didn’t take any pay from the company but by early 2012 things started to turn around slowly.” This down time allowed David to reflect on where the company wanted to be and how we could get there. They started looking at new services and it was during this time that David recognised the importance that BIM (Building Information Management) would have to play in the construction market of the future.

Though risky at the time, he decided to invest heavily in this new methodology ensuring the equipment, hardware and software were in place. Most crucially, it was important to ensure the business was in a position to attract skilled professionals who not only possessed the necessary 3D modelling and BIM implementation capabilities, but who also had experience of the construction industry, from architecture and structural to mechanical and electrical services.  “Providing BIM-support to the construction industry is now the main product we offer at ENGdoc and we are one of the largest dedicated BIM practices in the country. We continue to invest in training, research and development and new software. Also we’ve introduced technology such as laser-point cloud scanning and hired people with specific talents in this area.”

The company is already looking at a very healthy 2017 in which it expects to continue recruitment.All this investment now sees ENGdoc providing consultancy, training and modelling services on large projects in Ireland, the UK, Central Europe and the Middle East. ENGdoc’s experience, skills and dedication to BIM were recognised when they became an Autodesk Approved Training & Certification Centre in 2016 and they are one of a small number of Training Centres who are also operating as a working BIM practice.

The company holds regular courses in their modern training facility and use this as an opportunity to not only educate trainees in the necessary BIM tools such as Revit and Navisworks, but also to impart their practical knowledge from years of experience as a rapidly expanding BIM consultancy practice. It’s been an incredible decade of progress for this particular Sligo business with one man’s determination to make it succeed and vital supports from LEO Sligo ensuring it found solid foundations and then embraced new technology to expand and develop.

“And what’s really satisfying is that we’ve done of all of this from Sligo,” says David, adding “and we’re very much focussed on the future and the next decade of growth.”

 

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