Describe the company – the elevator pitch …
Guaranteed Irish is a not-for- profit business membership organisation championing homegrown and international businesses operating in Ireland. The organisation has over 300 members who make a significant contribution to the Irish economy every year, both in terms of turnover and employment, as well as contribution to their local communities. Currently, the 300+ members of Guaranteed Irish employ nearly 50,000 people in Ireland, generating a turnover of €11bn. Globally, these companies generate a turnover of €25.84bn, with 46% currently exporting, primarily to the UK, US and mainland Europe.
Only member companies, which are required to meet a range of criteria before attaining membership, are given permission to display the Guaranteed Irish symbol as a badge of provenance and trust.
When assessing an applicant for membership, Guaranteed Irish looks at three core criteria; jobs, community and provenance. As a result, the Guaranteed Irish symbol is very much worn as a badge of honour by homegrown and international businesses across multiple sectors.
How are you different?
Guaranteed Irish is the only national symbol for trust and provenance. It’s applicable to all
businesses, not just one sector. It is the original and the highest regarded. Through the use of this symbol, Guaranteed Irish helps members to expand at home and abroad, contributing to Ireland’s excellent reputation for delivering quality goods and services, and showcasing Ireland as best-in- class
Why will you do well?
We have a very clear goal – to become the national and only symbol legitimising businesses based in Ireland. Ireland can’t depend on foreign direct investment nor indigenous growth alone. A combination of both is required.
Traditionally, Guaranteed Irish has worked only with indigenous companies. More recently, the
organisation opened up membership to international businesses that have a location in Ireland and who conduct a significant proportion of their business here. They make a serious contribution to the economy and it’s important that they are part of our success story. As our confidence as an economy grows and our outlook becomes more global, international expansion will be a key focus for members
– and being able to tap into the international experience of international companies located in Ireland will be vital for this.
Where are you based?
We are based in Dublin at 1 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2. A central location is important for our
organisation as it makes it easier to meet with business owners and potential new members.
For the first time we are introducing a regional representative who will be based in Limerick and will cover the West and South of Ireland.
When was the company / organisation launched?
Guaranteed Irish began as a campaign ran by the Irish Goods Council in December 1974. In 1982, Guaranteed Irish became an independent non-profit organisation, launched by President Patrick Hillery. Over four decades since, the Guaranteed Irish symbol has become one of the most recognised symbols in the country.
What have been your biggest wins to date?
Last year, Guaranteed Irish was rebranded and relaunched by An Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D., with the original symbol from the campaign’s inception. I was appointed CEO and we have introduced a new Board of Directors and team, the organisation has repositioned by opening up membership to international companies operating in Ireland. The Irish business landscape is multicultural and diverse and Guaranteed Irish need to reflect that. Guaranteed Irish is also ready to play its part in positioning Ireland as the home of global leaders – both homegrown and international businesses who are based here.
We engage in a range of activities for our members, including PR and marketing campaigns,
networking events, and lobbying actions. We are currently meeting with senior political
representatives with a view to achieving the following:
Government recognition and endorsement of Guaranteed Irish as the national symbol for
provenance and trust. Guaranteed Irish is the oldest symbol of origin in business in Ireland.
The Government putting its full support behind the Guaranteed Irish symbol and recognising
the significant contribution the 300+ member businesses make to Irish jobs, communities and
the Irish economy.
Government funding to support the role of Guaranteed Irish in showcasing both indigenous
and international companies in Ireland to the consumer, also contributing to Ireland’s
reputation, at home and abroad, for quality goods and services, talent and innovation.
Supporting Guaranteed Irish members in public procurement processes with a 10% weighting
advantage, resulting in positive effects for Irish jobs, communities and Ireland’s carbon
footprint. There is already a precedent for this in other EU member states.
Another big win was our inaugural Guaranteed Irish Month which took place in March. A range of activities took place including a ‘Meet Guaranteed Irish’ event in Dublin which offered members the opportunity to exhibit their businesses and network with political representatives and other members. The organisation plans on Guaranteed Irish Month becoming an annual event which will put the spotlight on businesses in Ireland which create sustainable jobs and add significant value to their local communities.
Who are you trying to attract to your product / organisation?
Membership of the Guaranteed Irish organisation spans all sectors including pharmaceutical;
healthcare; technology; construction; energy; professional services; manufacturing; tourism; food and drink; craft and design; retail; lifestyle; and more.
Members include KPMG, FBD, Dairygold, MSD, Matheson, Ervia, Dublin Port Company, Irish
Cement, Roadstone, Tegral Building Products, Foxford Woollen Mills, Rathborne Candles,
Ballymaloe Foods, Manor House Hotels, Kingspan, Bord na Mona and Brennan’s Bread.
We work with individual sectors on a range of issues. For example, we have just announced that
‘Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Month’ will take place in October, highlighting the pivotal role that this sector plays in Ireland’s economy and calling for Ireland to be at the forefront of its European peers in terms of early access to new medicines.
Guaranteed Irish is currently working closely with their members in the pharmaceutical industry to develop a submission paper that will be presented to Government in October. This paper will outline the support required to ensure the pharmaceutical sector remains in robust health in Ireland, with a particular focus on access to new medicines and overcoming existing barriers to continual innovation and R&D.
We will have similar activities for the construction industry in September.
What tips would you give to others looking to build their business?
Listen to your customers, deliver solutions to their problems, keep informed on current affairs and most importantly, network.
Don’t be afraid to hire people that are smarter than you. If you want your business to succeed you need to surround yourself with people who are the best at what they do and from whom you can learn. Even as the CEO or Managing Director of a business, there are always opportunities to learn from those around you – don’t let an ego get in your way.
Trust is hugely important in life and particularly in business. ‘You’re only as good as your word’. I strive to always be truthful and honest with those I am dealing with and, in being honest, I ensure that those around me believe in what I am saying. In addition to that, building a business is like building a relationship – always be kind, decent and honest.
Tell us about your team?
We have a tight-knit team in Guaranteed Irish who focus on a multitude of tasks including digital marketing, public relations and business development. We are currently expanding the team to incorporate an events team. When required, we also work closely with several businesses who we outsource our research to and collaborate in different areas.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to build our member network to 1,000 members by the end of 2020 through a mix of
indigenous and international businesses. We are driven to lead the ‘Brand Ireland’ team in terms of positioning Ireland as ‘best-in- class’ for all business sectors and to secure funding from the Government to create even greater awareness for Guaranteed Irish members.
What are your favourite tech gadgets?
I have a love-hate relationship with my iPhone, I can’t seem to live with it or without it. I also love my MacBook Air and my Fitbit – I am determined to get 12,000 steps daily!
What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?
I wish I could take a good photo on a good camera. I also wish I could use my tv remote control – why can’t we just have one remote control left in the same place?
Anything else you’d like to add/we should have asked?
With Brexit around the corner, Guaranteed Irish has partnered with KPMG and Matheson to host a high-level invitation only round-table discussion for professional services companies on the topic of Brexit. The objective of the event, which takes place in late May, is to produce a white paper outlining key actions required to position Ireland in the most favourable manner possible in the fast-approaching post-Brexit economy. This white paper will be presented to Government, with Guaranteed Irish asking our political representatives to support the implementation of these actions.
How do people get in touch with you?
We love hearing from people, so feel free to call or email us. Our office door is always open too – feel free to pop in for a chat!
Bríd O’Connell is the CEO of Guaranteed Irish, a not-for-profit business membership organisation championing homegrown and international businesses operating in Ireland.
Prepared by Cal Ó Donnabháin