Dairy entrepreneur who became cream of the crop
The benefits of his research are still being felt today. Dairymaster milking parlours typically milk a cow one minute faster than the competition and deliver 5 per cent higher milk yields in scientific trials.
The quicker milking time saves the typical Irish dairy farmer between 12 and 20 minutes each day. “When that’s added up over a year, it’s a lot of time saved,” he says.
Doing the PhD also brought him into contact with scientific bodies and his research was used in developing international standards for milking equipment.
Dairymaster’s biggest rotary milking parlour can produce enough milk to feed half a million people a day. “That would be thousands of cows, producing 180,000 to 200,000 litres of milk a day. We sell them typically in places like Texas.”
But for all the focus on milking machines, it was the automatic scrapers that helped Dairymaster break into the export market. The company got its first export order for the manure scrapers from Britain in 1990.
Harty is adding to the product range all the time. The Moo Monitor device worn around the cow’s neck tells a farmer when the cow is in heat, and ready for insemination. It gives detailed information about the cow’s cycle and highlights animals that are not coming into heat. The information is fed into the computer and can also be accessed with a smartphone app.
Dairymaster is unusual in that it does all its manufacturing in Kerry.
“An awful lot of people would take the view, ‘Oh, sub-contract this out to Asia’, but we’ve taken the opposite view,” he says. “Okay, you’ll have a higher labour cost associated with it but you have a certain amount of control and a certain amount of speed when it comes to doing new stuff.”
Running an international business from north Kerry has its ups and downs. “There are no traffic delays getting in and out of work,” he says. The majority of people working in Dairymaster live within an hour of the facility.
The downside of working in a rural area is that he finds it hard to get staff with skills in areas such as electronics and software.
“That is limiting our growth, no doubt about it. There’s stuff that we’d love to get at, but we can’t because we haven’t got the people.”
He believes the Entrepreneur of the Year award will change that. “Maybe people didn’t know we are here. Now an awful lot more people know about us.”
Dairymaster is currently looking for staff in areas such as software and electronics, technical communications and marketing.
Winning the award has also generated a positive buzz in the company and in Co Kerry. “If you are recognised as being one of the leading companies in Ireland, it gives you additional credibility when you go into new markets where you are not known.”
And the company will get a second boost when he represents Ireland in the World Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Monte Carlo next June. He says this will be good for Ireland, as well as Dairymaster.