Taking pride in Portarlington

The Hardware Journal talks to John Byrne, Marketing Manager at McMahons Builders Providers about the latest milestone in the group’s 190 years of growth and development; the new-look Portarlington branch.

It’s a triumph of transformation at McMahons Builders Providers Portarlington store; boasting gleaming new showrooms in Bathrooms, Doors & Floors, a shopper-friendly layout and an even bigger range of products for the builder, DIY enthusiast and homeowner.

‘More than ever, we’re a one stop shop, after carrying out extensive refurbishments to create an environment that is welcoming and promotes customer browsing,’ says John Byrne, McMahons Marketing Manager. ‘Backed of course by our renowned expertise and service.’

With 13 thriving branches across the island of Ireland, McMahons has much to look forward to. But the company takes particular pride in its long history of serving the building industry.

From humble beginnings in Limerick in the 1830s, McMahons has become one of the largest timber suppliers in the country. McMahons continues to widened its focus to include all building materials used by the construction industry.

While celebrating 190 years in business this year, the group has its sights set on the future. The Portarlington store development is an important part of that vision.

One Stop Portarlington Shop

In 2007 McMahons moved their busy Portarlington branch lock, stock and barrel across town to an extensive brand-new site at Riverside Commercial Park. Since then the store has gone from strength to strength. To maximise the potential and enhance the customer experience, it benefited from a major makeover in 2020.

Today’s new-look store has been designed to deliver an all-under-one roof offer with an extensive product line-up encompassing building materials, plumbing & heating, timber & sheeting, insulation, painting & decorating, doors & floors, bathrooms, garden, outdoor and much more.

As John explains, ‘The layout is defined by category to ensure ease of search. For example, our Doors & Floors showroom contains all the accessories a carpenter needs to complete his job.’

Branch Manager Kevin Farrell, takes particular pride in his role and the successful refurbishment: ‘Since taking up this position almost two years ago, I have been focused on the renovation of the branch. I am delighted that our new showrooms are finished and the feedback from customers has been fantastic. We’re planning an open day to bring together our suppliers and customers to celebrate in style.’

‘Because the Portarlington store is centrally located between our branches in Dublin and Limerick, we can service our customers no matter where their construction is based. And our growing number of retail customers appreciate the spacious showrooms, friendly service and sound advice. These new showrooms allow customers to touch and feel the products while giving them inspiration for their own homes.’

Quality Irish Products

McMahons, as a nationwide group, takes every opportunity to celebrate its Irish heritage; a commitment made clear in its business partnerships.

‘As a 100% Irish-owned business, we strive to partner with local and Irish manufacturers where possible,’ John confirms.

Quality is equally important. ‘We are fully dedicated to delivering quality and expertise for customers visiting our store, providing assurance of top-quality products, great value and expert advice, ably assisted by our friendly and knowledgeable staff.’

Customer Centric and Beyond

Central to the McMahons ethos is the belief that customer relations are fundamental in a close-knit sector of tradesmen and builders. The group is committed to maintaining and managing strong relationships throughout the year.

‘We are constantly tracking our performance and performing listening exercises to enable us to make improvements in our interactions with customers,’ John says.

The Portarlington changes were informed by customer needs and preferences. And, notes John, ‘We have expanded our product range to focus on our DIY customers as well as our Trade customer, based on what consumers want now.’

McMahons have also developed innovative processes to streamline every stage of the customer journey, from initial shopper interest, product selection and advice through to accounting procedures and delivery of orders.

When it comes to any of the group’s new developments, whether online or in-branch, every decision is based on an indepth understanding of customer expectations. These insights are analysed and applied by John and his team to design platforms and store enhancements which deliver exceptional communication channels and shopping experiences.

According to John, ‘We call this ‘going beyond customer centricity’; where the customer has total confidence in McMahons to fulfil our promises. This enables the customer to fully concentrate on his building work.’

The McMahon’s team were delighted to see their community efforts and contributions within the sector acknowledged, when they were named Munster Regional finalists in the Octabuild Awards 2019.

People First

Great people make it all possible. McMahons group employs 200 valued staff across its branches, with ten employees running the Portarlington store. To ensure high standards and support the hardworking team, area managers, IT and marketing visit regularly.

(L-R) Paddy Bryan, Tom Healy, Kevin Farrell (Manager) and Richie Porter.

‘The calibre of expert staff we employ is what sets us apart from the competition,’ John affirms.

And this excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed, with Sales Assistant Richie Porter, who has been in the Portarlington store for 16 years, winning the Midlands 103 Customer Service award in 2018.

A major asset is the sales reps team, many with over 20 years’ experience in the building trade, delivering advice and service before, during and after construction. A knowledgeable voice at the end of the phone is vital to their customers.

To keep expertise up to date and consistently outstanding, management invests in training and development programmes, such as organising training days and supplier visits that each employee can attend. These are especially valuable when new products and lines are launched. Adds John, ‘Our sales team take this further by targeting suppliers/product ranges that they feel can benefit from promotion and awareness’.

Delivering Through Digital

It’s not just branches McMahons are transforming. The group also made a smart investment in its ecommerce/online strategy to reach multiple stakeholders across its business, from customers to suppliers, through social media engagement.

This digital upgrade has brought significant improvements in online revenues, mobile traffic, online customer registrations, visual representation of inventory, mobile transactions and online quote requests.

Notes John, ‘The past 18 months have seen the McMahons website and social media strategy develop to enable us to leverage our in-branch expert knowledge. More than simply creating a place where customers can view and buy products, we have built communication tools that offer a menu of value-added tasks that our customers are delighted with.’

A redeveloped website, launched in February 2018 with the mobile user in mind, provides easy communication for customers seeking advice or a product. The platform has generated multiple benefits for the group and its customers.

All products available in-store now feature on the website, along with a simple, efficient ordering system. Access to useful information on the entire product range is easy and fast; time-saving convenience for both McMahons own operations and their customers, as John explains.

‘We have access to the e-catalogues of our suppliers providing a streamlined ordering of tens of thousands of products. This allows us to promptly supply the customer with prices and detailed data sheets of every product from our own system, removing the need to wait for suppliers to answer calls and requests.’

Community Spirit

For McMahons, being connected and service-orientated also extends to the community. The group supports numerous outreach efforts nationwide, partnering with organisations local to all 13 branches.

None of this would have been possible without McMahons employees, whose engagement, collaboration and insights were instrumental to the introduction of the McMahons in the Community CSR programme.

Guided by the valuable local knowledge within their team, McMahon’s has been able to support community events and be actively involved. As a result the group now enjoys a bigger and better presence at many local events and has further developed its financial support for community sports teams.

Trusted Name

Asked to summarise McMahons achievements, activities and commitments over a very busy year, and the last 190, John says it all stems from the company’s core mission: ‘To serve our customers by providing consistent and reliable delivery of products, quotations and professional advice’.

A commitment that should stand the test of time.