Entrepreneur of the Year finalist: Gareth Loye, M&M Contractors

M&M Contractors provides turnkey utilities infrastructure

Gareth Loye is chief executive of M&M Contractors, a firm providing turnkey utilities infrastructure.

He is married with two children, and is also an avid sports fan, having completed the Belfast City Marathon six times and competed professionally in mixed martial arts for eight years.

Loye graduated with an honours degree in construction, engineering and management from Ulster University. On leaving university, he joined his family business, M&M Contractors, as a project supervisor. Over the next eight years, he progressed to to head of operations, and in 2011 took over as chief executive from his father, who is now a director.

From its headquarters in Belfast, M&M Contractors is a 30- year-old business providing turnkey telecommunication and electrical infrastructures, encompassing civil engineering, construction and cabling installation/testing solutions. It designs and installs all of the underground telecoms and electrical cabling networks required for its global blue-chip client base, along with providing all of the in-house capabilities to run the networks. Turnover has increased strongly to $12 million annually, and the business employs 120 people.


What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Our greatest achievement came in 2015 when we secured our largest ever contract – Project Express. This landmark, award-winning project saw us create the fastest-ever data connection between North America and Europe by installing a 4,600km transatlantic submarine data cable between the east coast of the United States and Canada across to the UK and the Republic.

What was your “back-to- the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?

In 2014 we evolved from a specialist to a principal contractor. However, this upset our existing contractor as it put us in direct competition with them for principal contractor work. As a result, we lost £1.5 million of work, crippling our cash flow. After running at a loss for months we slowly secured principal contractor projects and became stronger than ever.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

We’ve grown our exports from nothing in 2011 to our current position where they account for 85 per cent of our income, with projects spanning the UK, Republic, US, Canada, and the Netherlands. We are now set to enter two new territories – France and Spain.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We plan to reach £30 million turnover by 2019. This will be achieved by becoming the dominant specialist within the UK and the Republic, continuing our expansion overseas and expanding our service portfolio to encompass even more utilities support services.

Have you started to feel the effects of the economic upturn within your sector/industry?

Yes definitely. Statistics show that employers are already struggling to fill a fifth of their recruitment needs due to skills shortages.

What was your biggest business mistake?

My biggest one came when I was promoted to chief executive and tried to run the company while also still managing projects. I spread myself too thin and the quality of work suffered. My solution was to nurture a strong team that I can delegate to as necessary.

How do you foresee the revised corporation tax in Northern Ireland and the recent UK corporation tax announcement impacting your business in the future?

As a firm based in Northern Ireland we’ve historically struggled to penetrate the market in the Republic as their lower corporate tax has meant we couldn’t compete on cost with local rivals. So the revised corporate tax will help us to become more competitive across the whole of Ireland.