Guaranteed Irish Q&A Thought Leader Series:
Fergal Murphy, General Manager Kingspan Insulation
Give us a brief history of Kingspan Group in Ireland?
The Group was founded in the 1960’s in Kingscourt Co Cavan, we operate in 70 countries worldwide, with 20,000 employees across the Group. Today Kingspan have over 1,000 people employed in Ireland, in towns like Castleblayney, Carrickmacross, Kingscourt, Glenamaddy, Askeaton. All of our product ranges are positioned to help our customers reduce environmental or energy demand in the built environment. Innovation is at the heart of what we do, and our Global centre for Innovation is based beside our Group headquarters in Kingscourt. Ikon is a place of research and is itself a living research project. IKON asks the big questions that will lead us to a more sustainable and health future, while also delivering enhanced value to our customers. It is appropriate that this centre of excellence for research is also locally based in Kingspan where our construction journey began in the 1960’s.
Can you give us an overview of your role as General Manager at Kingspan Group in Ireland?
I am the General Manager of Kingspan Insulation, and I am responsible for our Insulation business here in Ireland. Kingspan Insulation is a company within the publicly quoted Kingspan Group and are headquartered in Kingscourt Co. Cavan.
I am a Qualified Architectural Technologist, from Dublin Technical University, I also hold a Master’s Degree in Management for Sustainable Development from Dublin City University. I graduated from Bolton St in the late 1990’s and worked in private Architectural practice in both Cavan and Dublin prior to joining Kingspan in 2000.
I spent the first few years at Kingspan working in technical specification, business development and sales management roles in the insulated panels division in Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. In 2009 I relocated to Florida to join the management team for a newly acquired business, where I spent 7 years in North America as Vice President of Sales & Business Development, it was during this time I undertook my Masters in Management for Sustainable Development thru the Oscail Remote learning in DCU in Dublin. n 2016 I returned to Ireland and took up a role covering GB & Ireland for our Benchmark Architectural Facades product range, initially as Commercial Director, then as Business Unit Director. Then in April 2018 I was given the opportunity to run the Kingspan Insulation business in Ireland, we are based in Castleblayney Co Monaghan, and have approximately 120 people at our site there.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Kingspan over the next five years?
That’s a great question, I don’t think there is one single big opportunity, I think there are several. We are at a very exciting time for anyone involved in the built environment and the construction economy both here in Ireland and internationally.
With Renewable Technology and Environmental impact reduction, these types of initiatives create opportunities for every business to look at both what they do, and how they look to incorporate sustainability into their own strategic plans. Energy will become more expensive, and thus the return on investment in mitigating energy demand thru insulation, or local generation thru products like power panel, become an easier decision.
When we look more specifically at Ireland, and our construction sector we have a lot to be positive about, and indeed some of these feeds thru into the Guaranteed Irish house initiative that I know Brid and all the team at Guaranteed Irish support.
We have the new national retrofit strategy, where Government is targeting the retrofit of 500,000 homes to a B2 or better standard by 2030. This is huge, for both homeowners, and the construction sector here. Retrofit is a segment of the market that we expect to continue to develop rapidly over the coming years.
In addition, we have the Project Ireland 2040, which supports the development of approximately 30,000 new homes per year. These targets should encourage designers and constructors to look at what they build, and how they build, and aim to reduce the carbon impact of materials sourced locally, also to consider products with longer lifespan that further reduce the need for replacement. Again, the Guaranteed Irish House initiative also plays a part here in spreading the awareness of Irish Manufactures and locally sourced products with a lower carbon footprint and lower carbon miles.
What are the current challenges facing the construction sector?
Raw Material availability and Energy are significant challenges for the sector, Raw material supply chains have been disrupted significantly over the past two years and managing this is a significant challenge. However, in preparing for Brexit we evaluated many of our processes, on both inbound and outbound raw materials and finished goods. These reviews helped position us for the post Covid supply chain disruptions, we were positioned to adapt our logistics supply chain to deal with the newly emerging requirements, but here is no doubt that this has added cost into the supply chain.
In planning for Brexit there is no doubt that many businesses including us took a deep dive on cross border logistics, CE/CA marking and other topics. Anecdotally we are aware that many Merchants and Contractors did the same thing, this focused look at locally sourced building materials, will also potentially have helped reduce the carbon impact by replacing imported material with locally sourced products.
Can you talk to me about Kingspan Group’s involvement in the Guaranteed Irish House?
Being a member of the Guaranteed Irish House project brings together the key elements of what we stand for, sustainable and reliable products, manufactured locally with lower carbon miles with the mutual ideals of Guaranteed Irish. Guaranteed Irish stands for many of the same things we stand for, sustainable jobs, contributing to our local communities. We are proud to be Guaranteed Irish members, and to proudly display the national symbol of trust in business in Ireland on our product packaging.
Initiatives such as Guaranteed Irish House allow us an opportunity to engage with our customers, architectural designers, and our peers within Guaranteed Irish, to engage on relevant construction and sustainability topics, in both new build and retrofit. Opportunity to promote our product and the Guaranteed Irish brand to consumer market.
How does Kingspan Group engage with the local community?
When you support a local business, you create local jobs. Hopefully long term local sustainable jobs. Whether you are a small sole trader, an SME or a multinational like us working in our local community, we all contribute to local engagement, local employment and are often engaged in supporting local community and sporting organisations.
Our strong roots in our local communities across Ireland are very important to us, our employees come from our communities too, and our engagement with local sports like GAA, Rugby and Golf is something we are very proud of. Guaranteed Irish stands for many of the same things we stand for, sustainable jobs, contributing to our local communities
Can you tell me about the Kingspan Group’s sustainability initiatives?
Sustainability has been important to our business for many years, we manufacture products that focus on reducing energy consumption for building owners and occupiers, so we understand both the economic and environmental benefit that this can have.
In 2011 our CEO Gene Murtagh set us an incredibly ambitious target to become a Net Zero Energy business by 2020. This was a huge target at the time and one which we did not have a fully developed pathway to achieve, just an ambition and the knowledge that it needed to be achieved.
Then in 2020 the group launched Planet Passionate, our second set of significant global strategic targets to make an even bigger impact on the built environment. These targets aim to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals which ultimately enable consumers to consume less resources.
Planet Passionate is a joined-up initiative which works across all 5 Divisions covering over 20,000 employees in over 200 facilities in 70+ countries.
Our mission is to accelerate a net zero emissions future-built environment with wellbeing of people and planet at it its heart. and focus on 12 important targets across 4 key pillars, Carbon, Energy, Water and Circularity.
Across each of our 200 sites there are individual targets on energy generation and waste reduction.
In Castleblayney we have a rooftop solar array which generates onsite electricity, all of the additional energy that we procure comes from Renewable sources. We are also on track to become zero waste to landfill.
Tell me about Kingspan Groups’ new ‘Power Panel Solution’?
In terms of Power Panel, yes this is an initiative of Kingspan Insulated Panels division, which incorporates BIPV into the structure of a prefabricated metal roof panel, when the roof panel is installed the solar PV panels are installed in the same step, thus reducing multiple trades on site, and allowing the roof generate energy and revenue from day 1.
What made Kingspan Group decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?
Today we are an internationally recognised brand, operating in 200 locations across 70 countries, but we also carry our local Irish heritage very proudly. We were established in Co Cavan in the 1960’s as a family business. Today we have the benefit of that family engagement and leadership, together with a relentless focus on innovation and an organisation growing internationally.
We are proud to be Guaranteed Irish members, and to proudly display the national symbol of trust in business in Ireland on our product packaging. I would describe our relationship with Guaranteed Irish as mutually symbiotic and one which any potential member can benefit from.
Events such as Construction month allow us an opportunity to engage with our customers and our peers, to engage with the minister at the upcoming construction forum, and an opportunity to hear what other businesses are either challenged with or succeeding with, it’s all part of the learning and development we strive for. Guaranteed Irish also provides the framework thru initiatives like the Guaranteed Irish House to work and collaborate with other industry players on projects that benefit our own businesses and aim to support our potential new clients.