Entrepreneur onto sure thing with storage tanks

Suretank has become the world’s largest manufacturer of tanks and cargo-carrying units– but it hasn’t all been plain sailing

Patrick Joy, founder of Suretank and EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Patrick Joy, founder of Suretank and EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fri, Jun 6, 2014, 01:10

It has been a busy 12 months for Tipperary man Patrick Joy. He sold a 67 per cent stake in his company Suretank for €35 million, he was crowned EY Entrepreneur of the Year, and he stepped down from his position as chief executive of the Louth-based manufacturer.

Suretank, meanwhile, established a new facility in Brazil, opened a new headquarters in Dunleer and secured a multimillion euro contract in the US.

Tomorrow, Joy will battle it out against company directors from more than 50 countries for the title of World Entrepreneur of the Year at a gala event in Monaco.

Whether he wins the award or not, he is a worthy recipient, considering he has built a €72 million-a-year company from scratch. The Irish-headquartered firm is the world’s largest manufacturer of tanks and cargo-carrying units.

Its trajectory to that position wasn’t all plain sailing for Joy though. Among the bumps along the way was a four-month period from November 2008 when no new orders were received.

The price of oil had collapsed and Suretank suffered a 40 per cent fall in revenues from €43 million to €28 million. But it battened down the hatches, managed costs and still turned a profit.

A mechanical engineering graduate of University College Dublin, Joy first encountered storage tank manufacturing while working for Whessoe in Finglas during the 1980s.

“They were in the tank business. We built all the big oil storage tanks down at Dublin Port. We also built tanks for the ESB Moneypoint and Aughinish Alumina.”

Towards the end of 1983, Joy left Whessoe and joined Tipperary-based engineering company Kentz, which Whessoe had employed as a sub-contractor in Kuwait.

He spent five years working with Kentz in Saudi Arabia before returning home to Ireland in 1988 to undertake an MBA at Trinity College Dublin. He then went to work for container manufacturer CPV in Clones, Co Monaghan

“Between 1989 and 1993 was quite eventful. I went from working in the company in Co Monaghan to managing director of a glass factory, Taylor Made, in Co Tipperary and then back to CPV.”

Joy had taken the position of sales director at CPV hoping to be involved in a management buy-in, but things didn’t go as planned.

“That was when I was trying to become my own boss and put some equity in. I wanted some involvement, some ownership and some more control in the business and where I was going.

“Along with the management team, we put a bid together to buy out the shareholders, or some of the shareholders. Unfortunately, our bid to buy the company failed.

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