Confident new boss for Ballina Landmark

HAI meets visionary new leader of Joseph Murphy Ballina Ltd, (JMBL) Lorraine Burnell, to discuss Open Door Days, opportunities and setting a course for the next century of progress.

Valentine’s Day marks a special Open Day at Joseph Murphy Ballina, an opportunity for customers to view the extensive hardware range, discover the latest DIY trends from the experts, and meet the staff led by new Managing Director, Lorraine Burnell.

Lorraine took the helm of the 100-year-old Ballina family business in August, moving back home to Mayo from the UK where she was Managing Director of a marketing firm. “I led a very successful team, growing the company substantially in hard times. I have always enjoyed dealing with people, perhaps more than numbers”, so JMBL is an exciting next step, explains Lorraine.

Lorraine wanted to understand every aspect of daily operations, so she has worked in every department. Not just learning the ropes, but finding ways to use her skillset to enhance processes
and procedures.

She is an accountant by profession and has vast experience in management and quality systems, having gained accreditation in BSI 9001, 14001 and 27001, and in Lean Six Sigma.

As 2020 gets underway, she has ambitious, forward-looking plans, to ensure many more years of success for this Ballina institution.

Starting with Open Door Day at their premises in Ballina. “We
have invited key suppliers to showcase new products and expert speakers to inform our clients on market trends and trade-specific intelligence updates.”

This is the first of several Open Demo events throughout 2020. “We’re planning to bring demo days on the road in our customers stores including, a Ladies Day with training on all those tools that are so important in DIY, and a Family Day; teaching our next generation to become great DIYers!”

A family enterprise

The company has come a long way since Joseph Murphy Wholesale was founded in 1916 by Joe Murphy. From a small premises in Lord Edward Street, the business served North and West Connacht with Domestic Hardware, Ironmongery and Groceries.

Even back then, the ethos was to supply quality products at competitive prices. That has not changed. In the 1950s the thriving business opened a Hardware Wholesale division. Further growth in the 1970s brought expanded territory and
product lines. Today Joseph Murphy Ballina Ltd (JMBL) is proud to remain a family firm with the next generation already involved and adding value.

JMBL now supply a vast range of Agricultural, Gardening, Household, Electrical, DIY, Paints and Building Products throughout Ireland. At all times JMBL hold stock levels exceeding 6,500 products in their 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse. The company offers a prompt, efficient delivery service via their own trucks and couriers to 600+ customers.

“Our location is a real asset, near motorways and very close to
all service providers including courier companies and the rain,” says Lorraine.

Quality and choice

Lorraine Burnell, Managing Director, Joseph Murphy Ballina Ltd

“We are completely focused on offering quality products. We want to supply good quality products for the best price, buying in bulk and working closely with big brands to get great deals and pass on the savings. We are proud to work with Irish manufacturers and to deliver a guarantee of excellence.”

The company`s own very successful Moy Tools Brand features over 50 unique products including: hand tools, ironmongery and gate hardware, fencing products, green PVC and galvanised weld mesh, fixings and nails, ladders and access, fireside and a complete garden range. With its reputation for excellence and value, the Moy brand is a solid favourite.

They have excellent industry relationships, including working together in partnership with the locally based Homeland network of branches. They supply all the 34 Homeland stores with their Moy ladders and a range of other products from their Moy range.

JMBL is also known for exceptional service, explains Lorraine “If a customer needs a unique product, we source it. If they need delivery next day, we go out of our way to get it to them. We work in partnership with customers; the more they grow, we grow too. We always go above and beyond.”

“We listen and share all customer feedback with the team and have KPIs in all departments to ensure standards stay high.”

Looking ahead

With such strong foundations, Lorraine Burnell aspires to develop JMBL. “We have created a robust business plan for the next five year. Starting with our priority focus; to review IT software across the board, from HR to order taking, and invest in new technology and other areas as needed.”

“I will be on the road with our sales reps listening to customer feedback so that we can improve every day.

Channeling her marketing experience, Lorraine is seeking more customer engagement. Her 2020 plan includes redesigned advertising flyers and a new website.

JMBL also intends to grow into different sectors and introduce improved category management systems. Because continuity of supply will be paramount, buying smarter and in quantity is critical.

Being green is another key emphasis for Lorraine “This year we’re conducting a customer survey to learn how we can be doing more, because we and our customers want to make responsible decisions and lifestyle changes. Obtaining sustainability accreditation BSI 14001 and BSI 9001 will ensure we’re leaders within the hardware industry and that we operate effectively.”

JMBL also will be stocking organic ranges and assessing transport costs and efficiency, especially regarding delivery routes.

Beating heart of the business

As Lorraine sums up, “We’ll reach our goals if we listen: listen to customer needs, ensure where possible that we’re first to the market with a product, have a strong business plan that we all own, and, have an astounding team that go the extra mile.”

This last must-have is already sorted, thanks to employees who make the drive for excellence possible. “Our people bring abundant know-how and commitment at all levels. We have five sales reps covering the country and 30 staff in-house.”

“We’re also lucky to have a very experienced board who’ve been key to JMBL evolving. They offer a wealth of expertise, supporting our team to run the business”.

Family shareholders contribute knowledge from their previous building industry roles such as sales, marketing and project management to keep JMBL at the forefront.

80% of staff have 20-40 years’ service and exemplary product knowledge, while new starts offer fresh insights. “It’s a very positive mix.”

Altogether, a supportive, loyal, customer-centred staff reflecting Murphy’s five simple rules for The Perfect Team: “Be Respectful. Be Supporting. Be Understanding. Be Trustworthy. Be Helpful.” Lorraine’s father has been a guiding influence. ‘He always told
me a great leader has humility, humanity, and humour. Principles I follow every day. I always ensure that I understand and respect how my team feel because I’m only as good as my team. I also make sure we celebrate every win, that we say Thank You, and most of all, I never forget where I’ve come from.”

This year the entire office support team are getting ECDL training. And a new social committee is planning team building events, leading to company personal achievement awards in December 2020.

Giving Back

Not only is JMBL a local employer active in the North Mayo community; the company’s mission to ‘give back’ extends nationwide.

Explains Lorraine, “We’re changing the way we give our customers Christmas gifts. Instead we are donating money to local charities in their counties that don’t receive government support. Hopefully our modest contribution will make a massive impact.

When asked about her company USP, Lorraine said, “JMBL are client-focused, work in partnership with our customers, are not afraid of change, and, are planning for the future. We have been supplying our customers for the last 100 years, we look forward to the next 100.”