McHales Plant Sales – Case Study

McHale Plant Sales Ltd. was founded by Michael McHale in 1962  His son Michael joined the company in 1988. They have premises in Birdhill Co. Tipperary and Greenogue in Dublin.

McHale Plant Sales Ltd. is the sole distributor of Komatsu in Ireland. It is a leading supplier of excavators, bulldozers and large class wheel loaders.

Komatsu is one of the largest manufacturers of construction and plant machinery in the world, with net sales of €14.9 billion and employing over 38,855 people. Their range of machines are renowned globally for leading the way in technology, innovation and reliability.

McHale Plant Sales Ltd. is owner managed by Tim Shanahan, John O’Brien and Michael McHale (Jnr). The team’s ethos and stewardship has enabled the company to develop a strong position in the industry. The company focus on providing all their customers with the best products and support leading Komatsu to achieve market leader position in Ireland.

We spoke to Managing Director Michael McHale on the unique characteristics that define them as an organisation that are reinventing their own path forward.


“In 1994 we acquired the Komatsu franchise for Ireland. It’s a quality brand – great product, precision design and competitively priced. We won 15% of market share. We also value the McHale Plant brand which was founded in 1962 by my father. Don’t underestimate the value and power of a brand, especially in a recession when it is all about trust and credibility.”


“Cashflow is king. Without liquidity in a business it will not survive. Cut hard and cut deep, it’s not pleasant but it’s the only way to be kind to your business.”


“When our market collapsed overnight by 90%, we had no choice but to restructure. The Irish market was small and restricted so we looked at the international marketplace. We sold pre-owned plant hire to Africa and the Middle East. We also moved into agricultural equipment and became an importer for Zetter – another strong brand.”


“The ability to be flexible, adapt and  reinvent ourselves was key to overcoming the recession which took 90% of our market.  We cut our head count by 60%. We are a flat orgaisation in terms of decision making which helps in times of crisis. We concentrate on keeping the team together, rewarding them and keeping them motivated. But more than anything customers continue to be our focus so we ensure we are adapatable to their needs.”

Michael’s view on Ireland’s path forward:

Ireland has a great future. It’s all about developing and learning lessons from the past – not unlike running a business.  I see another year or two of stagnation followed by robust growth.

Advice for businesses trying to reinvent their path forward:

“It’s hard to remain strong. You have to protect you core brand while showcasing your core competencies but most of all you have to look after the cost base.  You have to be ruthlessly efficient.”

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