Enda Mahon left school not long after completing the Junior Cert and like many young men at the time decided to go into the booming construction industry. When recession hit, the only option was to emigrate in order to find work. Enda chose Brisbane in Australia and it was there that he came up with a business idea that not only earned him a Young Entrepreneur award in 2015 but also looks set to provide employment back in his native Roscommon.
“Business was always something in my mind. I went working for local people like Ward and Burke when I left school for a number of years. I worked in England too. Due to the downturn I went to Australia and worked with Murphy Pipe and Civil in Brisbane. I was over there for six years, started as labourer and worked my way up to supervisor,” he said.
It was while working as a supervisor that Enda saw the potential danger to workers involved in the transportation of pipes.
He said: “When I became supervisor I stood back and saw that there was danger. The pipes would be transported by trailer and they’d be strapped down and there would be wedges and all that but it’s a danger zone. I stood back and wondered how I could solve the problem.
“I came up with a system that would secure the pipes on any ISO trailer and it’s operated by remote control. The truck driver doesn’t have to get out of the cab so the pipes can come off without labour. I can create a 30-metre exclusion zone now and you’re saving money and saving time.”
Enda’s company, ProGrip Systems, is at the product patent stage and has already attracted potential investors. He expects the product to be at the manufacturing stage this year and ready to roll out to the main global pipeline players in places like the US, Australia and Asia.
However, none of this post-recession success story would be possible without help from local organizations, according to Enda.
“I was in Australia thinking ‘I want to do this at home’ ‘How can I do it?’ I got talking to a family friend and found LEO on the Internet. I contacted Louise Ward as soon as I came home and had a meeting with her. From there on I got mentoring and practice for doing my pitch. They’ve given me grants and very good contacts. I won the Young Entrepreneur award for Best Idea in 2015 and then I went on to do the New Frontiers programme in Athlone,” he said.
A grateful Enda also had high praise for James Donlon and WestBic and Nick Allen and the New Frontiers programme in Athlone.
He said: “There is support for businesses in Roscommon. I’ve hit walls but I’ve got over them. The mountain is still there but I’ll climb it!”
With the support of everyone involved in the ProGrip project as well as his partner Gisella, daughter Lilly and son Oliver, Enda will be hoping to scale the mountain following the launch of his ‘best idea’ over the next few months.