“We can take on any project now, regardless of size. We are the leading manufacturer for data centres. 80-90% of data centres currently being constructed in Ireland have ducting from AC Manufacturing.” 

Shay Connolly of AC Manufacturing on the benefits of becoming a licensed manufacturer of Thor Duct® products.

How Thor Duct® Helped AC Manufacturing Grow

A few years ago, business at AC Manufacturing was ticking along, but they found themselves losing out on lots of potential business because their fire duct systems  didn’t comply with the latest European standards. As the demand for higher-rated ductwork increased, the company faced a turning point. They had to choose between growing and adapting to the changed environment, or becoming stagnant and losing business. They knew they had to make changes and be able to offer fire duct work that complied with the EU regulations, so they approached Thor Duct ® and made enquiries about how they could work together.

Managing Director of AC Manufacturing, Shay Connolly, has been with the business for 20 years. Founded in 1999, AC Manufacturing is based in Dublin, where they boast a staff of 30 and 45,000 square feet of production facility spread over two units. The company manufactures a complete range of heating and ventilation ductwork and associated products. They can tailor make ductwork, and they also do general sheet metal fabrication. Connolly has overseen tremendous growth in the company, which is now part of the Lindab Group. He was involved in the decision to work with Thor Duct ®.

“We became a licensee in 2017,” Connolly explained. “We approached Thor Duct ® and decided to take a manufacturing and distribution licence with them because they were the market leaders at the time – and they still are.”

Preparing To Become a Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturer

Becoming a Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturer takes a lot of preparation. “If you’re considering it, you must be confident that your company is capable of meeting the high standards required”, said Shay. 

AC Manufacturing, like other licensed manufacturers, had to invest in some additional machinery and staff training. The factory had to be audited to confirm compliance with CE marking. AC Manufacturing were ISO 9001 compliant, but had to do a little bit more to meet the stringent demands to earn the CE mark.

“The CE mark is a strong selling point,” Connolly said. “It gives the customer peace of mind that their fire duct systems are being manufactured by a company run to the highest standards.”

Investing in the right machinery to meet the standards is simple enough, but training everyone involved can be more demanding. AC Manufacturing produces ductwork but does not install it, so their direct customers are the contractors who install the ventilation systems. And they need training to ensure they can do their part of the job to the highest standards too. But Connolly says that Thor Duct ® stepped up to provide top notch training as well.

“Thor Duct ® provided all the initial training for our staff to enable them to manufacture to the high standards required,” he said. “They provided training in our facilities for our customers to enable them to install the Thor Duct ® system correctly, and assisted our customers in becoming FIRAS registered contractors.” And now, with the addition of an online customer learning knowledge centre, licensees have access to all the documentation and training videos 24/7.

What impact has Thor Duct ® had on company growth?

AC Manufacturing joined the Lindab Group shortly after becoming a Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturer, and the benefits of offering superior fire-rated ductwork were immediately apparent. Lindab is one of the largest ventilation groups in the world, and now after joining forces with AC Manufacturing, they are working more in the industrial end of the sector.

“We already had the customer base, so the demand for the fire ducting was already there,” Connolly explained. “Because we previously couldn’t manufacture to the latest standards, we had to outsource part of the jobs. Since we took a license with Thor Duct ®, when we are now tendering for a project, we can tender for the complete project and keep all of the profits in-house. Our customers are happy because they can come to a one-stop shop. It has added tremendous value.”

Saving their customers’ time and effort gives AC Manufacturing an obvious edge over the competition. Getting a premium product and dealing with fewer suppliers keeps costs down by saving contractors the extra time of dealing with more suppliers. It’s a real benefit to the contractors that they can pass on to their customers in the form of safer buildings and lower costs.

“We can take on any project now, regardless of size,” said Connolly. “We are manufacturing for all the largest projects in Ireland and abroad. We are the leading manufacturer in the country for supplying data centres. Between 80 and 90 percent of data centres currently being constructed in Ireland have ducting from AC Manufacturing.”

While Connolly cannot disclose specific projects due to non-disclosure agreements, he can confirm that AC Manufacturing’s main areas of business in Ireland and abroad include:

  • Hospitals
  • Pharmaceutical plants
  • Hotels 
  • Apartment complexes 

AC Manufacturing’s Advice to Potential Licensees

After seeing such fantastic growth after two years as a Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturer, AC Manufacturing would wholeheartedly recommend the move to other ventilation specialists looking to increase sales and broaden the scope of possible projects. While it is essential to make sure the factory is up to the required standard and that everyone involved is well-trained and fully understands the technical side and the benefits of Thor Duct®, this effort is quickly rewarded. 

How soon did AC Manufacturing see the benefits? 

“Instantly,” says Connolly. “If you are prepared to put in the hard work, it will increase your turnover and your profitability,” he advised. “It will open your doors to a larger customer base because a natural follow-on for having the additional products is that customers can deal with one company rather than two or three. It gives them the benefit of having one contact. It means fewer headaches for your customers.”

Preparing to be a Thor Duct ® Licensed Manufacturer is a lot of work, but your company doesn’t have to go it alone. Connolly says AC Manufacturing got fantastic support and help from Thor Duct® as they prepared to become licensed manufacturers of the products. Thor Duct® worked with their staff and their customer base to provide the training they needed to successfully manufacture, sell and install their premium fire-rated ductwork. 

“The back up from Michael Renaghan and Brian McCarthy has been instrumental in developing that part of the business for us, and we highly recommend them,” Connolly said. “ Should any of our customers have technical queries, the Thor Duct® team are always available on the end of the phone to answer, and they will actually go to the consultant engineers on our behalf to address any technical queries that come up.”

Why Give Your Customers the Benefits of Thor Duct®?

Thor Duct ® is not the cheapest option around for ventilation ducts. It won’t appeal to those who want to cut corners. But for those who understand that buildings are more than structures, superior fire-rated ductwork is essential because it protects the lives of the humans inside in the event of a fire by extracting smoke. By meeting the latest European standards for ventilation ducts, the HVAC system can reduce the risk of smoke inhalation, the primary cause of death in a building fire. 

While the previous standards required that ductwork retain 75% of its integrity, the new European standards raise this to 90%, quite a significant improvement. The builders that use Thor Duct ® know they have done all they can with the ventilation to ensure the safety of the building’s future occupants. And that is a powerful selling point. 

Whether it is an airport, an office building or a hotel, buildings are where people go to work and to live their lives. When customers understand the improved protection Thor Duct ® offers, the importance is obvious.

If your company is ready to grow and help build safer buildings, find out more about becoming a licensed manufacturer here.  Or get in touch with the team at Thor Duct ®

We are happy to talk to you about how your business can get set up to meet the criteria to provide our superior fire-rated ductwork.

How to License Thor Duct ®

Offer your customers the very best in fully compliant fire ductwork solutions.