TULLAMORE company Condron Concrete has linked up with Austrian and Canadian partners to bid for a lucrative contract for the proposed Shannon to Dublin water pipeline.
Up to 100 jobs will be created if the project gets the go-ahead and Condron Concrete have plans for a new factory across the road from their existing pipe and tilemaking plant.
Speaking to the Tribune as Condron Concrete celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation by the late Johnny Condron, managing director John Condron (junior) said the company had been working on the Shannon-Dublin pipe plan for a number of years.
“It’s a joint venture between three companies,” he said. “It depends when it gets going from the Government and the project itself would be €40 million. We wouldn’t build the factory unless we get the contract.”
Under the Eastern and Midlands Water Supply Project, water would be pumped along a 170-kilometre pipeline from the lower Shannon at Parteen Basin, south of Lough Derg, to Dublin via the Midlands.
The plan seeks to address potential water shortages in Dublin and the east and it would also supply parts of counties along the route, including Offaly.
Irish Water says population and economic growth within the region will generate a demand for an additional 330 million litres of water per day by 2050.
The national water utility believes existing supply sources will not be able to meet the expected demand from domestic and business users.
Irish Water told the Tribune this week it will submit a planning application for the project when new water abstraction legislation is passed by the Oireachtas.
That legislation is expected by to be enacted by the end of this year, clearing the way for the application to An Bord Pleanala.
Meanwhile, a review of the pipeline plan is being undertaken by the Commission for Regulation of Utilities.
Condron Concrete employs 140 people at its plant on the Arden Road and is on a growth path following the recession which saw the workforce fall back to 40.
Six years ago the company diversified into the production of plastic pipes.
“Plastic is about 20 per cent of our business and it’s growing,” said Mr Condron.
He said Condron Concrete is currently investing in new plant and he pledged the company will continue to reinvest, as it had always done since its foundation by his father.
“Last Friday we had here in our company engineers from Austria and from China. We’ve been looking at new sectors and because of Brexit you have to get yourself ready.”
Currently, Condron Concrete has markets in Ireland, the UK and Norway.
Established by Clonminch man Johnny Condron in 1969, the company marked its half century with a series of events at the weekend.
On Friday a Mass took place in the shed where the first ever concrete pipe was built, with Fr Sean Gallagher and Fr Sean Heaney as celebrants.
Mr Condron said he was especially pleased that his daughter Grace was a Mass server on the day.
A party for staff and their families then took place, with buses organised to bring people into town afterwards.
“I would be no different from my father in that the way I looked at it was that the weekend would be for all the employees here and their partners.
Founder Johnny Condron, who passed away in May last year, was a champion ploughman and his plough has been refurbished and still stands at the company office as a tribute to him.
Staff organised a surprise tribute to the Condron family by specially customising a truck in memory of Johnny and presenting it to John.
Condron Concrete employee Kevin Maher, along with Mr Condron’s sons Alex and Ryan, who work for the family firm, engaged Conor Jennings of local truck company Longhaul Commercials for the customisation job.
The customised truck has a large picture of the Johnny Condron sprayed onto its cab.
“They all got together, Alex, Ryan, Conor and Kevin and they all thought it was a good idea. It was mixed emotions for me when I went out and saw it,” said Mr Condron.
The contribution of the founder was also recalled on Saturday when his 1979 Mercedes, which is still running, featured at the head of a motorcade of Condron Concrete trucks through Tullamore town centre and out to the family homeplace on the Clonminch Road.
“It’s a vintage car now and the symbolism of it was that I wanted it to lead the procession to remember my father,” said Mr Condron.
The motorcade coincided with a night of celebration for Condon Concrete customers at the Tullamore Court Hotel, some of whom had flown in from abroad. Saturday’s event also doubled up as a fundraiser for the children’s charity Barnardos.
Mr Condron said a financial contribution was also made to his employees’ social fund.
“The company would not have been as successful as it is without the management team and the employees,” said Mr Condron.
He praised the committee which helped organise the 50th anniversary celebrations and said the company’s ‘Workers’ Committee’, which comprises staff representatives from each section (Damien Longworth, Olive Harte, Jason Dunican, Tomas Feery, Sylvester Plewa and Sean McCann), is crucial to the smooth running of Condron Concrete from day to day.
He also said as many as a dozen fathers and sons work at Condron Concrete, underlining the key role the business plays in the local economy.