Thor Duct ® and Breffni Air Limited go way back. Breffni Air, a successful and well-established specialist ventilation manufacturer and contractor, was Thor Duct’s first licensee in Ireland and the United Kingdom. After 16 years of providing quality ductwork, Breffni Air saw the potential for Thor Duct’s EN standard ductwork to help them become more competitive, expand the types of projects they did and grow their business.
Marketing Manager Brenda O’Leary joined Breffni Air several months after they started with Thor Duct® about four years ago. She’s seen the impact being able to provide superior fire-rated ducting has had on Breffni Air’s growth.
Being the first licensee was a unique experience, but it also provides valuable insight into how other companies can fuel their own growth by adding Thor Duct ® to their offerings. Specialist ventilation is a very niche market, and being able to offer top of the line, fire-rated ductwork makes a company stand out.
The Breffni Air Story
Based in Kilnaleck, County Cavan, Breffni Air Limited began business in February 1999. Founder and Managing Director
Patrick Sheanon saw a need for high quality ventilation systems that were also cost effective. Over the years, the company has expanded to offer DW144 galvanised and stainless steel ducting, data centre electrical containment services, contract cutting and modular process skids. Their clients are primarily pharmaceutical companies and data centres, although they work in other industries as well, such as food processing.
With a strong focus on safety, Breffni Air built a solid reputation on a series of successful projects throughout Ireland and the UK and grew to be one of the largest specialist contractors for ducting in the region. Becoming a Thor Duct ® Licensee was the next step.
Thor Duct ® was still a new product at that time, and Breffni Air had a learning curve ahead. This is one of the most extensively tested ductwork products available, and testing was still underway when Breffni Air became a licensee. Over time, as further testing was completed, the resources documenting why EN fire standards in general and Thor Duct ® specifically grew, and licensees now enjoy a wealth of technical training and support from Thor Duct ®. Licensees now have comprehensive resources to help them explain why Thor Duct ® is a superior choice.
The construction and ventilation industries needed education to understand the importance of the newer EN standards. Good, fire-rated ventilation ductwork is a fundamental part of building safety. In the event of a fire, ventilation ducting plays a critical role in safeguarding people in the building by extracting smoke. Thor Duct ® exceeded the British standards required for fire safety in ductwork, but not everyone saw the benefits at first. People needed to learn how and why the EN standards superseded the old BS standards.
Specifically, the European (EN) standard involves more tests and requires that ductwork must retain 90% of its integrity instead of the previous BS standard of 75%. It offers a significant improvement in smoke extraction. In an indoor fire, smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death, so this upgrade quite literally can save lives.
Breffni Air’s Early Days with Thor Duct ®
Thor Duct ® was not a shortcut to more projects. Initially, clients were hesitant to pay more for the extra safety provided by Thor Duct. Breffni Air’s sales team had to work hard to make the advantages clear and convince clients that the increased safety was well worth the increased price. As more testing was done and new documentation was created, the value of the EN standard and the exceptional quality of Thor Duct® became increasingly clear. But Thor Duct® licensees still need to be prepared to teach their potential clients about it. Having more documentation makes this easier than it was for Breffni Air at first, but it still involves effort.
While the first two years were challenging, O’Leary says the effort is paying off. Breffni Air has secured important projects in Ireland, the UK and Sweden using Thor Duct® products, and the company anticipates continued growth and success offering this EN fire rated ductwork.
Advice From Breffni Air
Becoming a Thor Duct ® licensee is an effective way to expand your business and appeal to new markets. But success is down to good preparation. Like most things, what you get out of it depends on what you put into it. Rushing in without good preparation will not create a jump in sales, but taking the time to learn about the product and relevant building regulations means the licensee is far more competitive when tendering for projects.
O’Leary recommends doing your homework before becoming a licensee so you fully understand how to make the most of the opportunity.
Knowledge of the local legislation and standards is crucial. And of course, these vary by place, so a company that operates in more than one country needs to understand the details of safety requirements everywhere they operate. It helps too to understand the local building standards overall, particularly around fire safety. This will empower your salespeople to explain the benefits of Thor Duct ® to their projects in detail that makes the appeal of EN fire rated ductwork clear to potential clients.
People are naturally resistant to selecting the more expensive option, so salespeople need to be able to explain why an EN fire safety rating is so critical. Time is needed for salespeople to first educate themselves about why Thor Duct® (R) is a superior product and then to share that knowledge with potential clients. But once the technical specifications are explained, the value of this life-saving option is clear.