Inside Track: Jim Healy, owner, Tipperary Organic Ice Cream
The secret Italian recipe to my cool success
What is special about your business?
We make outstanding, great tasting premium ice cream, sorbets and frozen yogurts in a variety of flavours under our own brand and for other companies.
What sets your products apart in your sector?
Our products are wholly natural and most varieties are gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO. We are also expert in chocolates and confectionery through our other business The Chocolate Garden of Ireland. So, not surprisingly, we make a delicious chocolate ice cream.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Like everyone in business at present, getting paid. Developing a business in an environment where giving credit is very risky is a real obstacle. On an operational side, distribution of ice cream is very costly and difficult to achieve economically. Distributors don’t want to know about smaller quantities.
What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting a food business?
Think your idea through from market right back to production and distribution. Make sure there is room to make money for yourself in there and remember to remain focused on that.
Who do you admire most in business and why?
[Ryanair chief executive] Michael O’Leary for his undeterred focus on achieving his business goals irrespective of the popularity or unpopularity of his actions, and his mastery of publicity – good and bad.
What two things could the Government do to help small and medium-sized enterprises in the current environment?
Stop killing consumer confidence with taxes at every turn. A spending stimulus programme is needed to get growth back into the economy. Don’t be so export-focused when laying down conditions for giving support to SMEs. There are plenty of market opportunities within our shores and these are less risky for SMEs to develop.
In your experience, are the banks lending to SMEs currently?
Yes, very cautiously and with a lot of financial information.
What’s the biggest mistake you have made in business?
Getting into business with others with lower standards and less of a business focus.
What is the most frustrating part of running a small business?
It’s a constant challenge to ensure you are doing the most important thing at any time – not necessarily what seems most urgent. There is an awful lot of regulation and hidden cost around having employees that discourages job creation.
What’s your business worth and would you sell it?
I wouldn’t talk to anyone with less than €2 million in their back pocket, but I’ve no plans to sell.
In conversation with Olive Keogh