John Whelan and Pat Amond, from Carlow Toolmaking Services.
Winners of the Carlow National Enterprise Award 2019. Image courtesy of Carlow Enterprise Office

Very often the management style within organisations evolves as they move through different phases of the business life cycle. This was true for Carlow Toolmaking Services who underwent corporate restructuring in 2016.


Corporate restructuring involves the reorganising of the legal, ownership, operational or any other structures within a business to make it more profitable, efficient or better organised.

No matter why restructuring takes place, it’s always a difficult process. It requires a strong commitment not just from the business owners but also from their accounting partners to realign structures to meet business objectives. When a business eliminates layers of management during restructuring, communication and decision making improves and it helps remove barriers to productivity.


When I met with Pat Amond, he explained that restructuring was an opportunity for Carlow Toolmaking Services (CTS) to “strengthen our commitment to investing in our people, plant and our relationships with engineers”.

I asked Pat what did corporate restructuring mean for CTS.

“Restructuring meant getting advice from your accountants and putting it into practice. At the time of restructuring Lalor O’Shea McQuillan stepped up big time. I’d find it very hard to walk away from our accountants now because we’ve built up a relationship and no money can beat that. One night we were in their offices until 1am. As a result of what happened then, I now know for certain that these guys are good and you can’t buy that kind of commitment. Nuala Kenny who heads up the tax department is great. It is her certainty and understanding of tax law that is so rare – especially to find that expertise in an accountancy firm.”


Staff benefits of corporate restructuring at Carlow Toolmaking Services

Pat continued, “I had to make sure the transition was going to be advantageous for staff. So we brought in some simple but effective changes. We developed a profit share system. We adjusted the weekly working hours so that everyone would have a shorter working day on Friday – effectively bringing in a two and a half-day weekend”.

To improve communication and efficiency, Pat developed a simple but effective system to make sure that issues didn’t develop into problems. Management meetings are held every Wednesday. This means that most issues are sorted by 11am the same day or if they’re bigger issues, then they will be sorted by Thursday at close of business.


The changes Pat Amond made during that restructuring period have created the strong brand identity Carlow Toolmaking Services have today.

When you step inside their premises in the Pollerton Industrial Estate, you’re immediately stuck by the beauty of the dies and tools displayed in the cabinet.

These are high precision, beautiful finished objects that wouldn’t look out of place in a museum of modern art – but instead these are working prototypes and high precision tools for the oral, medical, pharma, food and automotive industries.


The trend continues in many sectors to outsource to cheaper labour market. However Carlow Toolmaking Services don’t view this as a problem. Pat explained, “if a company uses a shop in another part of the world, the logistics become very difficult. That’s why so many of the multi-nationals choose us here in Ireland. In our machine shop we do things differently. Many of the engineers we work with come to us before starting a project. Sometimes they can be too close to the project and a fresh set of experienced eyes can make a big difference before everything is set in stone. Getting an outside perspective from an experienced toolmaker can help ensure the project flows from conception to completion.

Because CTS take care of everything – from concept to completion – by the time the courier takes it – the product is correct. The engineers put faith in Carlow Toolmaking Services because they deliver a product that is already de-bugged and is ready for use immediately. Managers at client companies are impressed by the engineer’s ability to deliver a working product on time. In turn, the engineers know they can rely on CTS for an efficient turn-around on their bespoke high-quality precision tools.

Where engineers use overseas shops work problems escalate when a design needs to be modified. In such cases it can take 6 – 8 weeks before a part arrives.

Whereas CTS offer a very quick turnaround – usually within 2 – 3 weeks from design approval. If a modification is needed, usually this can be done within 24 hours. For companies and engineers involved in R&D projects, this approach can knock weeks off what might otherwise be a lengthy and costly process.

“We invest in our engineers,” said Pat. “The investment in relationship building is important because even when an engineer changes employment, it’s not long before they contact us again to avail of our services”.


I asked Pat what advice he has Irish start-ups working in manufacturing. He pointed out that there are four things to pay attention to:

1. It’s essential that you know your service capability.

2. Understand your customers and their needs.

3. When seeking new business always go to the top person in every company.

4. Know your delivery times. Set genuine deadlines every time. It’s better to lose a job rather than lose a customer.


Whilst Pat and John run the business – John has 20 years experience as the design engineer at Carlow Toolmaking Services, they stress that there is no chain of command at CTS. Everyone knows the job. When customers call there is no automated messaging service offering multiple options to ‘press one for this, two for that or three for the other’.

Either Pat or John answers the phone and the caller can speak to the person they need straight away. Their direct communication policy means that nothing is lost in communication between the guys on the machines, the project and their clients.

Corporate restructuring and the move to a person to person business model

“That’s one of the things we have in common with Lalor O’Shea McQuillan” said Pat. “You can pick up the phone and you’ll get the right person. Nothing gets lost in communication. This goes beyond a B2B service, Lalor O’Shea McQuillan, like ourselves offer a P2P service. Person to person.”


Carlow Toolmaking Services, Pollerton Industrial Estate, Hacketstown Rd, Pollerton Big, Carlow
telephone on 059 913 3314