Kevin Ward - Reward Catering Limited

Reward Catering Facts

Name(s) of Business Owners:

Thomas Ward, Anne Ward, John Ward, Kevin Ward


Reward Catering Limited

Number of Employees:


Famous for:

Retro Styled Catering Units

What Supports Were Provided by The Local Enterprise Office?

Priming Grant, Ongoing Mentoring, Management Development Programme (MDP), Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur (IBYE)

Our Location:

Rathnew, Co.Wicklow


Our Social Media Platforms:

 Facebook @rewardcatering

 Instagram Icon@rewardcatering


1. What year did you start your business and what can you tell us about those early days and how it all started? Kevin Ward - Reward Catering Limited

Thomas Ward owned an ice cream kiosk on Bray seafront, here he identified an opportunity to sell and promote his products at local fairs and events. He started on a long tedious and unfruitful quest to source a catering vehicle/trailer to showcase his products. It started with searches of the internet for companies who specialised in food truck manufacturing in Ireland and found none existed. He was then confined to search sites for second hand catering trailers from private sellers, after numerous visits and inspections of catering trailers it was soon apparent that the quality and style required was not available in Ireland. The search then expanded to the UK where the market was very similar, second hand food trailers for extremely overpriced tags. This search progressed for over a year and he could not find what he was looking for. Thomas expressed his frustration to similar businesses and soon realised he was not the only person in this situation. Thomas discussed the gap in the market with Kevin Ward, his brother, and they soon began to research suppliers and manufacturers around the world. After a successful trial launch Kevin quit his job at and together they set up their factory in Wicklow. The company now has 5 employees and has exported their catering trailer units to countries including Malta, UK, Germany, Australia, Latvia, Portugal, USA and many more.

2. What were the high points and low points in those early days, when you were a start-up?

I suppose the lows would be very similar in most start-ups, cautiously and tediously having to monitor your cash flow. Taking real joy from every achievement or milestone achieved.

The high points were sometimes the simplest of things, implementing a new process or a win with a new customer. Just knowing that everything we created and achieved had started from nothing, a gap in the market. 

3. What was your big ‘break-through’ moment?

We would have had a couple of key break-through moments, ranging from supplying some of the world's leading brands with our units. Including a showcase model on display in Harrods of London.

4. Your Local Enterprise Office (LEO) has supported your business. Tell us about these supports and what impact they have had?

We received a Priming Grant from the Local Enterprise Office Wicklow, which was financially a benefit but the biggest benefits come from the actual support structure they provide, you can pick up the phone to them at any time and if they cannot give you the advice, they find someone who can.

We also participated in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition in 2018/19 and in the Management Development Programme.

5. How has your company been preparing for Brexit? Did you receive any assistance from LEO Wicklow?

Yes, our company has been preparing for Brexit for some time and I would advise anybody who needs assistance to reach out to the LEO we have received a number of one to one Brexit Mentoring sessions. One of the biggest issues we are facing is the uncertainty of logistics, we have a lot of suppliers in the UK and Brexit will definitely add additional costs and shipping times.

6. 2020 has been a very difficult year for SMEs with the COVID-19 Pandemic. How has your company responded? 

The company has taken a number of different approaches to the pandemic, we set up a number of promotions and finance options for businesses’ struggling in the hospitality sector. We have been working closely with a number of businesses to help them maximise their outdoor offering and how to best comply with COVID-19 restrictions. We have found this to be a huge success and are receiving lots of referrals from happy customers.

7. Did you receive any assistance from LEO Wicklow in response to COVID-19? If so, how did it benefit your business?

Yes, LEO has offered continued help and assistance in response to COVID-19, they have put on individual mentoring sessions and keep in touch regularly to see if they can help any further.

8. Are you optimistic about the future?

Yes, we are very optimistic about the future. We are expanding to new countries relocating to a bigger premise and looking to take on new staff for Q1 2021.    

9. What’s next on the business agenda for your company?

Next on the agenda is moving to a bigger premises. We are expanding the team and purchasing new equipment to continue to grow revenues and our customer base.

10. In the future, what will be the biggest challenges facing Irish businesses?

I would imagine the logistic and transportation challenges that are becoming increasingly more difficult due to COVID and Brexit.

11. What’s the best piece of advice you got about running a business?

Cash flow is key you can have a very profitable business but if you don’t manage cash flow correctly you will have issues. Sometimes you want to run before you can walk but with the right advice and guidance you find a suitable pace.

Kevin's 'Top Tips' For Success

  • What are your ‘Top Tips’ around attracting new customers and keeping existing ones loyal…

Always be honest and transparent.

Know your product, when you know your product better than everyone else customers will be attracted to your business.

  • What are your ‘Top Tips’ around keeping on top of costs and cash flow?

Dedicate some time at the end of every month to review outgoings, remove anything that isn't showing you a ROI.

If the business has set clear payment terms, stick to them and don't change them to suit different customers.

  • What are your ‘Top Tips’ around getting the best out of your team?

Set clear goals and expectations from day one.

Celebrate every win, no matter how big or small.

Reward Catering Team