Kerry dairy business scoops top prize
EDMOND HARTY of Kerry-based manufacturer Dairymaster was last night named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 at a gala awards ceremony held in Dublin.
Dr Harty, the technical director at Dairymaster, was presented with the title of Entrepreneur of the Year by President Michael D Higgins.
Mr Higgins said the commitment, drive and hard work of entrepreneurs will play an important role in the advancement of the Irish economy.
“It is people like these finalists, willing to innovate and take big risks, that will help change and rebuild our economy,” he added.
Dr Harty beat off competition from fellow finalists Paul Kenny of Dubai-based Cobone.com, and Colm Piercy of Irish telecoms business Digiweb.
Earlier in the evening he was named as winner of the International category. He will now go on to represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Monte Carlo next June.
“My dad set up the company in 1968 and I came into it in 1998. This award is a fantastic achievement for myself, my family, the staff and the company itself,” Dr Harty said.
Dr Harty, a mechanical engineer by profession, joined the family business in 1998 while studying for a PhD in University College Dublin, where he focused on the area of milking performance.
While completing his PhD, he developed a new method for the evaluation of milking units by measuring performance under flow conditions. This research has resulted in the test methods being adopted into the international standards for performance measurement of machine milking, and Dairymaster leads the way in these performance measurements.
Headquartered in Causeway, near Tralee in Co Kerry, Dairymaster also has operations in the UK and the US, and employs 220 people.
The company’s product range encompasses five key areas: milking equipment, automated feeding systems, hydraulic manure scrapers, cow fertility monitors and milk cooling tanks.
“By maintaining his company’s position at the cutting edge of global innovation, Edmond has built and developed an indigenous Irish business that today exports over 70 per cent of its production to customers in over 40 countries, worldwide,” Frank O’Keeffe, Ernst Young partner-in-charge of the Entrepreneur of the Year programme, said.
Dr Harty was among 24 finalists that made it to the competitive final stages of the 2012 awards.
Martin Naughton, chairman of electrical manufacturer Glen Dimplex, meanwhile, received this year’s Special Award for his outstanding contributions to the development and progression of Ireland’s commercial, educational and artistic life.
Each year, the Special Award is presented to an individual who has contributed in “a profound and meaningful way to the benefit of the entire island”, while operating outside the traditional business arena.
“Forty years ago today we had a stagnant economy and the Troubles were about to start. It was the worst time to start a business, but not for Martin Naughton,” said Mr O’Keeffe.
“We started with seven people. Our plan was to ultimately have 100 people. We employ 10,000 people now, so our business plan was a complete failure,” Mr Naughton told the audience to much laughter and applause.
Mr Naughton told an amused crowd he was referred to as an entrepreneur in a newspaper article 30 years ago and he had to look up what the word meant.
AWARDS PROGRAMME 15th YEAR IN IRELAND
The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is a global awards programme designed to recognise and support entrepreneurs. While the programme runs in more than 50 countries, the event in Ireland, now in its 15th year, has been identified as one of the strongest in the world.
The Irish Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which are open to participants across Ireland, is run in association with The Irish Times, Enterprise Ireland, Invest NI, InterTrade-Ireland, Newstalk and RTÉ.
There are three categories – emerging, industry and international. This year’s winners were selected from 24 finalists shortlisted by a judging panel.
The judges themselves are business people who have achieved success in their own right. Criteria include growth in turnover and employee numbers, as well as vision, degree of innovation, creativity in production, marketing and selling and expansion in local and international markets.