Paírc Uí Chaoimh
When Sisk were seeking a concrete shuttering and placement specialist to work on the spectacular new €70m redevelopment of Pairc Ui Chaoimh, they didn’t have to look too far: local company Hickey Formwork Ltd. fitted the bill perfectly!
We travelled to their Fermoy base to find out more about this exceptional family-run operation from one of the founding directors Fergal Hickey.
Hickey Formwork Ltd. celebrate a decade in existence this year and the fact that they are busy working on Cork GAA’s newly-revamped headquarters at Pairc Ui Chaoimh speaks volumes for the high regard in which the company is held by the cream of main contractors nationwide.
Hickeys’ reputation has been built on providing high-quality, market-leading, cost-efficient workmanship on time, safely and with a minimum of fuss – attributes which have seen the Waterford-based family business thrive through a recession and establish itself firmly as the forefront of the concrete industry.
Specialists in concrete shuttering, placement and reinforcement on commercial and industrial buildings as well as steel fixing and concrete repairs, Hickey Formwork Ltd. bring together half a century of combined experience from directors Fergal and Eoin Hickey to a critical sector of the construction industry.
“The business was established in 2006 by myself and my brother, Eoin,” the former confirms. “We had been involved in building since we were teenagers and after 25 years of working for others we decided to go out on our own. We had worked for a number of different contractors and just felt the time was right to take the leap.”
There is a saying that the best time to start a business is during a recession and to this end the commercial viability and long-term sustainability of Hickeys Formwork Ltd. were certainly tested from very early days: “We just got in before the recession took hold and that allowed us a chance to make an impression,” Fergal recalls. “We got involved on a couple of semi-big projects with PJ Hegarty and got our name out there just in time.”
Merck Sharp & Dohme in Carlow (for Hegarty) in 2008/09 was an important contract but there were still some testing times around the corner.
“Towards the end of ’09, the recession really bit and we had to downsize after that job and we hung on by our fingernails over the next two or three years. When your back is to the wall like that, you take on any job just to keep things going” Fergal concedes, regarding a scenario all too familiar to everybody exposed to the total collapse of the construction industry.
“But we came out the other side of it and started to get work again.”
The company was motoring along nicely when the landmark Pairc Ui Chaoimh redevelopment contract came along… “We’d worked for Sisk for six or seven years and we landed the Pairc Ui Chaoimh job in November, 2015,” says Fergal.
Hickey Formwork moved into the home of Cork GAA in December, 2015 and will be there until March, 2017, having secured a €4.25m contract for all the formwork, concrete placement and concrete reinforcement.
At the time of writing, Fergal told us he had 120 men on site at the iconic Ballintemple venue and that he would remain at that level for a further six-eight weeks.
Clearly, this is a huge contract and one that – regardless of geographical location – would only be awarded to a company with a real edge. So what is it that grants Hickey Formwork such a commanding place at the forefront of the formwork, concrete placement and reinforcement market?
“We are on site all the time ourselves,” Fergal states. “We really look after each and every job that we put our name to. There’s personal supervision from myself and Eoin throughout the project while a lot of our men have also been with us for ten years – and we’d also have known a lot of them from when we worked for various subcontractors – so there’s great experience there and a lot of familiarity. Everyone knows us and we have a good reputation.”
This solid reputation is based on excellent workmanship first and foremost, with an emphasis on traditional methods, which are proven to stand the test of time. “We base our ethos on traditional style shuttering, which is tried and trusted,” Fergal confirms. “A lot of our shutters are made from timber and good-quality plywood, which provides excellent results. Our wall and column shutters are traditional, top quality and robust.”
Hickey Formwork Ltd. boast an impressive history and, currently working on their biggest project to date, the signs are extremely encouraging that a bright future lies ahead for this outstanding family business (a third brother, Eamonn, works as a foreman, while other relatives are also on the books as well as Liam Hayes, another main foreman who has been there from the start).
The Pairc Ui Chaoimh project is certainly a watershed one, which should prove to be a major turning point for the company: “It’s a big undertaking and it has got our name out there with other contractors. We’re getting a lot of enquiries as a result,” Fergal attests. “Things were quiet there for a while and major contracts were few and far between but it’s ramping up again and people are looking at us now. This has opened doors and I’d be very optimistic about the future.”
Regarding the catchment area covered, Fergal adds that Hickey Formwork are ideally located to work anywhere on the bottom half of the island: “If you drew a line across the middle of the country, from Dublin to Galway, we work anywhere to the south of that,” he concludes. “We’re centrally located, within an hour of Limerick, Cork and Waterford cities and just two hours from the outskirts of Dublin, and that gives us great coverage.”
The words ‘Pairc Ui Chaoimh’ have embellished the already-impressive Hickey Formwork CV significantly and one gets the distinct impression that there is a lot more to come from this outstanding Cork company.