Colbert Engineering

The Grow Story of Colbert Engineering

Entrepreneur: Des Colbert

Local Enterprise Office Supports: Business Expansion Grant



Having previously set up three businesses that are still in operation, it seemed a natural progression that Des Colbert would apply his expertise and enterprising capabilities to establishing his fourth successful business, Colbert Engineering.

Colbert Engineering specialises in precision engineering producing milled and turned components.  With a well-earned reputation for consistent high standards of workmanship, the Waterford based engineering plant supplies parts to major international gas, oil, electronic and medical companies around the world.

Des Colbert explains that when the business was set up in early 2013, it was his knowledge of the engineering sector and his customer-centric approach that aided the business in securing a reliable customer base in the early days.

Although the early days of business were challenging, one of the high points for Des and his team was securing a major multi-national contract, which not only gave the business the confidence to drive forward, but it also reinforced the company’s personable approach in successfully winning new contracts.

“We take our business very personally.  I particularly enjoy working directly with customers and giving a service that is efficient, yet personable. In my experience people do business with people and not with company names.”

Des explains how issues such as staff retention were addressed.  “It did initially pose a problem for the business as our staff are highly skilled and their talents were widely sought in the industry.  We certainly didn’t want to lose our accomplished manufacturing team to the competition, so we introduced incentives to encourage them to become more immersed in the company.”

“After introducing flexible working hours and bonus schemes, the team was definitely more productive, more invested and happier in their roles.  It’s important not the lose sight of the value of your staff because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

It was through capital funding that Des was able to purchase the specialised machinery needed to upscale.  “Ask for help, there is assistance out there.  For any business expanding, access to capital is crucial.  We approached Local Enterprise Office Waterford and we found them more than helpful in their approach.  Not only in terms of capital assistance, but in the sound advice and support they gave us.”


Of the future, Des says that Brexit is causing challenges for businesses of all scales and in all sectors.   “There is a huge amount of preparatory work that needs to be done ahead of Brexit, regardless of a deal or no deal.  Whilst we endeavour to use indigenous materials where we can, we source some of our materials from the UK.  We’ve been in touch with our distributors seeking assurance that there will be a continuation of supplies.”

“It is a very worrying time for business as it’s hard to ignore the warnings of significant disruptions and long delays at UK ferry ports and what the repercussions will be on a local level.”