On the rise with water treatment technology

Small Business Inside Track Q&ADonal Molloy, MD, Molloy Environmental Systems

Donal Molloy, MD, Molloy Environmental Systems

Donal Molloy, MD, Molloy Environmental Systems


Molloy Environmental Systems, which is based in Co Offaly, employs 18 people and has a 25-year track record in wastewater treatment systems.

What is special about your business? We are an innovative company that uses the latest research and best practice to inform the design, manufacture and installation of wastewater treatment systems for domestic and commercial use. We’re one of the longest-established and most experienced companies in our sector and have developed strong research links with NUI Galway.

What sets your business apart in your sector? We provide turnkey waste water solutions which involve designing, building, operating and maintaining wastewater treatment systems. We have built the largest percolation demonstration facility in Tullamore, where customers, including engineers and architects, can come and see the proper use of percolation methods for wastewater treatment.

What has been your biggest challenge? Transforming the company from a business that made general pre-cast concrete products in the 1970s and 1980s into a research and technology-led company in the 1990s that is now at the leading edge of water treatment technology.

What has been your biggest success? Successfully partnering with NUI Galway to develop a significant new piece of technology for wastewater treatment.

It’s called the pump flow bio film reactor and it is important because it is low energy and low maintenance and can be applied in all sectors of the market from domestic to agricultural, industrial and municipal uses.

We have already installed the system in a number of facilities where it is working very successfully.

What key piece of advice would you give to someone starting a business? Value your customers. Value your employees. Particularly treat your employees as your most valuable asset as they are the heart of your business. If you treat people well and create a good working environment, they will take a much more personal interest in the business and will want to go the extra mile.

Who do you admire most in business and why? Pat McDonagh of Supermacs who has created a superb business.

Also Michael O’Leary for taking the criticisms levelled at his company and transforming Ryanair from a “no frills” airline into an organisation that has become much more customer-focused in its culture. At a more local level, businessman John Flanagan, who has been hugely supportive of small businesses setting up in the area. He has helped many people to get a start.

What two things could the Government do to help SMEs in the current environment? Reduce employer’s PRSI and sort out the constraints existing within the Job Bridge scheme. The way it’s currently structured, it excludes people who’ve taken the initiative and tried to find work. As an employer, it’s the pro-active people with initiative you want.

In your experience, are the banks lending to SMEs currently? In our experience, yes. We’ve developed a very good working relationship with our bank over the years and have never had any issues in securing the finance required by the business.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business? We developed a housing scheme during the Celtic Tiger and while we have worked our way out of the situation, it would have been a better strategy to have stayed focused on our core business.

What is the most frustrating part of running a small business? Having to double- or even triple-job at times. In a small company you don’t have the luxury of having people assigned to specific roles the way you would in a big company.

What’s your business worth and would you sell it? I haven’t given any thought whatsoever to what it’s worth and it’s not for sale.

Our focus now is on growing the business and in particular we would like to unlock our export potential. In conversation with Olive Keogh