Taking Care of Business

Sponsored by: Local Enterprise Office Laois, Offaly & Westmeath
Entrepreneur and HR expert Ronan Berry steals ideas from the best business minds in the midlands, every Tuesday from 7pm.

Supported by the Local Enterprise Office, this programme introduces you to successful people, happy to share their insights and winning formulas – or from whom Ronan can prise the answers.

Need advice? Have a question or a discussion topic suggestion? You can contact the show, or select an article below to read more about previous shows in the series.


Taking Care of Business can be emailed at business@midlands103.com.


Can we survive Brexit irrespective of what format it takes?

In the 19 years since the millennium we’ve survived the Y2K computer bug, we’ve weathered the storm of the financial crisis that began in 2008 and we’ve even managed to cope with the much-feared General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR introduced in May 2018.
Is it therefore OK to assume that we’ll survive Brexit too irrespective of what format it takes?
Who knows and in truth there have been no significant developments since I last spoke to you all in late December of last year.
Ronan is joined in studio by Midlands 103’s Ben Finnegan and John McCann from MCM Accountants in Tullamore to give an update on Brexit.

Ignore the political drama – Irish SME’s face a major threat from Brexit

Ireland has been proactive in its response to Brexit with initiatives such as the Brexit Loan Scheme provided by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI).
Many Irish businesses have some form of a Brexit strategy in place and are eagerly awaiting developments from London.
The same cannot be said of UK based SME’s as the UK government has been somewhat complacent in acknowledging the scale of the threat of a hard Brexit.
Irish companies reliant on selling to or purchasing from UK based SME’s should thread carefully according to John Finn of Treasury Solutions Ltd.
Issues with cash-flow and in particular problems linked to reclaiming VAT after Brexit might also jeopordise the future of Irish SME’s.
John provides some key tips for Irish businesses as the Brexit process continues to weave and turn. The 29th of March 2019 is closer than ever.

Developing resilience to cope with workplace stress

An ESRI study, funded by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), has found that job stress among employees in Ireland doubled from 8 per cent in 2010 to 17 per cent in 2015.
What measures can people take to counteract the negative effects of working in increasingly stressful environments? Barbara Nugent is a Leadership and Emotional Intelligence specialist delivering resilience training nationwide.
Barbara talks to Ronan about the report and suggests a number of basic steps people can take.

Liam Linden – An Acknowledgement

Jack Nolan pays tribute to Liam Linden a founding partner of 4 Aces Cash and Carry in Portlaoise and a man well known in his local community.
His company employed 85 people and was bought over by BWG Group earlier this year with Liam retaining a senior management position.

Survey reveals the number of outbound daily commuters from Laois

The results of Laois Commuter Survey survey launched in February 2018 by the Business Support Unit of Laois County Council have been published.
The results show the profiles of the outbound commuters based on skills, education and their sector of employment.
The results are being used to assist companies in identifying new talent in an ever competitive jobs market.
Listen back to Director of Services at Laois County Council Kieran Kehoe discuss the survey and the results on Taking Care of Business recently.

Warehousing shortages in Ireland and the UK and stockpiling of pharmaceutical products are just some of the consequences of a hard Brexit.

Chief Executive of the Irish Exporters Association Simon McKeever discusses the draft Brexit deal announced last week and the barriers it faces to get past the UK parliament.
He also discusses the measures being taken by IEA members to prepare for Brexit and the supports required from the Irish government.

Are outdated parking charges and commercial rates putting the future of the main street in danger?

Edenderry Chamber of Commerce held a breakfast seminar on Tuesday 20th November with Bobby Kerr as keynote speaker.
The entrepreneur and broadcaster has spearheaded various campaigns highlighting the decline of Irish main streets and has strong opinions on what steps towns can take to counteract the threats.
Examining the length of our high streets and reviewing the type of businesses thereon, the outdated commercial rates system and the need for local authorities to abandon parking charges as a source of income as just some of his suggestions.
Listen to the full interview with Bobby Kerr here with input from Christine Traynor of Edenderry Chamber of Commerce also.

The Blue Apron Restaurant, Tullamore is included in Michelin Guide for fourth consecutive year.

Husband and wife duo Kenan and Sarah dropped in to talk about their restaurants inclusion in the coveted Michelin Guide 2019.
The Blue Apron in Tullamore is the only Offaly establishment included and one of only a few in the region.
What inspires the couple to reach these high standards – find out here!

Do not fear career change – you are likely worth a lot to other employers!

The recent announcement of 430 redundancies by Bord na Mona has left a lot of employees facing an uncertain future. What are the challenges faced by someone in mid-career entering the jobs market and importantly, what are the opportunities that exist too.
Ronan discusses this with Dr. Michael Tobin Dean of Professional, Continuing, On-line and Distance Learning at Athlone IT and Louise Digney of O’Reilly Digney & Associates recruitment.

Handmade chocolate infused with whiskey, coconut and lemon, cannabidiol (CBD) or seaweed – discover more here!

Michael Donegan of Kilbeggan Handmade Chocolate and the Beneficial Chocolate Company dropped into studio to discuss innovation in chocolate making. His company now produce sugar free chocolate suitable for diabetics and new product containing CBD.

How much can you tell about a person by looking at their facial features and how can this help you during the recruitment process?

To coincide with the launch of his new book, Ronan spoke to Joseph McGuire of Clearsight Communications to learn more about what is ‘hidden in clear sight’.
Face Facts – The Art of Reading Your Clients and Prospects for Sales, Negotiations and Recruitment is available at www.clearsightcommunications.com

Working towards eliminating fatalities in the construction sector – 22nd to 26th October 2018 is Construction Safety Week.

To coincide with Construction Safety Week 2018, Ronan was joined by Mark Cullen Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority. The number of fatalities in the sector has vastly reduced over the past two decades. With safety standards constantly increasing the HSA is determined to ensure that these standards are maintained in a sector where employment and output is set to swell in the short term.
Are attitudes to behaviours to workplace safety, health and welfare changing?
Find out here.

The ticking Pension Timebomb. Will the proposed auto-enrolment of all workers into pension schemes diffuse the problem?

At present in Ireland there are four people working for every one person not working (unemployed; retirees, etc). By 2050 its predicted that there will be two people not working for every person working.
How will the state provide for an ageing population that will work and live longer? The answer is through auto enrolment of employees into pension schemes.
QFA Michael Lynam of Prisma Financial joined Ronan to discuss.

Are you ready for a career in hospitality? Midlands Park Hotel Portlaoise is the place to be on Wednesday 17th October.

General Manager Dara Cruise on the challenges the hotel and the hospitality sector face to entice people into the industry. Dara also discusses the impact that the Budget 2019 will have now that the special rate of VAT has been ceased.
Pat Keegan Lead Partner at RSM provides some background into the reduced rate that was introduced in 2011.

BREXIT – the border and a backstop? Do you understand what’s being proposed?

How relevant is the border between north and south of Ireland?
Listen to this short piece from Taking Care of Business that features a well-known TV character, guidance on Brexit for kids and a famous Irish actor!

What you should know about domestic and commercial fire safety by an expert engineer.

National Fire Safety Week runs from 1st to 8th October 2018.
Issues around fire safety in residential developments have made headline news over the past decade with numerous examples of Irish buildings failing to meet requirements and of course the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London.
Have changes to legislation and building control standards had the desired impact?
Ronan was joined by Fergal Finnerty Senior Engineer on the Fire Safety Team at ORS Consulting Engineers in Mullingar to discuss all matters domestic and commercial fire safety and to outline current fire safety legislation and requirements.

Do you have any stories, memorabilia or other material about Maxol, a fully Irish owned and family run company?

As they prepare to celebrate 100 years of business, Director Noel McMullan has put a call out for anyone with stories, memorabilia or anything else associated with Maxol, or Mex as it was once known, to get in touch on 01-6076800 or noel.mcmullan@maxol.ie. The information will form part of the research for a book by Turtle Bunbury, specially commissioned by the company.
Noel also discusses the growth in electric vehicles, clearly a challenge for a company with 125 petrol stations and a further 150 under contract. But as you’ll discover, the company have withstood many industry crises in the past!

‘CULTIVATE’ Farm Loans are now available through seven credit unions in the Midlands.

Ronan was joined in studio by Brendan Heneghan, Project Manager of Cultivate and a former Regional Manager with Teagasc and Michael Evans, Manager of Birr Credit Union.
The Cultivate farm loan package can offer up to €50,000 loans for a variety of purposes in line with the stakeholder/market research feedback, this is based on finance for -working capital, livestock purchase, farm development, farm machinery purchase. Start-up finance for young trained entrants to farming will also feature in the loan package. The term of the loan can be up to 7 years and over €10m has been issued already.
Credit Union farm loan officers have completed a bespoke “Farm and Finance Training course” organised by Teagasc and Pallaskenry Agricultural College.
Information and application forms for Cultivate farm loans can be got from your local Credit Union offices or at www.cultivate-cu.ie

Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) oversee employment law compliance and promote best practice. A must listen for employers!

Oonagh Buckley, Director General of the WRC, speaking with Ronan at the National Ploughing Championships in Offaly.
Is your business compliant with employment law and thus prepared for an inspection?
The WRC currently undertake 5,000 to 5,500 inspections per year including at night and at weekends.
What are the typical findings and non-compliance matters from typical inspections and what steps should be taken to increase compliance?

Westmeath auto repair company looks to the future by becoming the first Irish franchisee of a major auto-repair group.

Criostoir Sleator, MD of Sleator Kia and Sleator’s Body Shop in Mullingar dropped in to discuss the move which sees the latter being rebranded to Fix Auto Westmeath.
The move will mean the company can avail of the most advanced technologies in a rapidly changing repairs market.
Criostoir was joined by Jonathan Penny, Market operations Director for Fix Auto Ireland as they prepare for the official launch on Tuesday 18th September.

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