Bolgers Case Study – Reinventing the Path Forward

Ian Bolger, Joint Managing Director of Bolgers based in Shannon, Co. Clare

Bolgers company was founded in 1980. The joint Managing Directors are second generation Bolger  brothers. Ian heads up Sales and Finance while his brother Graham heads up Production and Quality.

Based in Shannon, they specialise in precision engineering and have continued to grow year on year since their formation 32 years ago.

Bolgers design, manufacture and validate high quality, precision sheet metal fabrications. Their services include prototyping, manufacture, assembly and supply chain management.

They boost flexibility, reduce lead times and improve response times by integrating their manufacturing system into their customer’s production cycle. We are proud to be a well-managed, family-owned business with a robust balance sheet, enviable track record and ongoing improvement programmes in plant, facilities and people.
Bolgers has experienced strong growth in sales to Northern Ireland, which now accounts for 44% of their revenue.  Total export sales for the company now run at 78% (NI, UK, US).  This validates the company refocusing its efforts in targeting export markets in recent years.

We spoke to joint Managing Director Ian Bolger on the unique characteristics that define them as an organisation reinventing their the path forward.

‘Internationalise’ your Business

“Top performing modern Irish organisation’s ought to have an orientation towards ‘internationalising’ themselves if they can. Ireland as a market is just too small.  Bolgers had a focus on regional and national in the early days but it was when we entered international markets that we saw substantial growth. Today total exports account for 78% of the business, which is done in UK, NI and the US. ”


“We have built a customer portfolio that looks like a mutual fund – we have diversification in our business. We service multiple customers in multiple segments. We have diversity across our entire customer base, which means we are less exposed to sectors at risk. That’s a critical element in driving a business forward.”

Align your Outputs to Customers Goals

“We have spent some time trying to understand our customers’ business plans. If we can help our customers achieve their objectives then we ought to be successful. I believe we play a strong part in our customers’ success.”

Expertise  & Advice

“We have expertise across all core functions of the business and we also have excellent external advisors. It’s as simple as remembering to: ‘Hire somebody who is better or smarter than you in their area of expertise.’”
Ian’s view on Ireland’s path forward:
“We need business-minded people leading the country to recovery and we need to make hard decisions, just as we do every day in our business. Access to finance is hugely problematic – securing it in the first place is tough, but once you do so, the conditions are frequently prohibitive. Most Irish SME’s are under capitalised. If indigenous Irish companies are to ‘internationalise’ themselves they need to be financed appropriately.”

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