Improvise, Adapt and Overcome


How Irish construction companies survived the Celtic Tiger bust

By William Og McCawley Special to Canadian Design and Construction Report

“Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” is an unofficial slogan believed to have originated among U.S. Marines and made into a world recognized phrase by Clint Eastwood’s movie, Heart-break Ridge. In business the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome prob-lems will be forever necessary regardless of how well equipped or prepared you are. The need to be agile and flexible in order to respond to changes within your company’s immediate environment and industry is a must.

Honing this ability will serve you well. These skills can be cultivated and applied easily in any setting. Get creative. No one can take a skill away from you. It boils down to changing your company’s current perspective, engaging the creative minds of your workforce, ensuring a learning environment exists, and overall, enhanc-ing the physical, mental, and spiritual capacity of your workforce, thus in-creasing overall productivity.

Goodbye Celtic Tiger

Following the subsequent financial collapse and the bursting of the so called Irish Celtic Tiger, companies operating within the construction industry in Ireland had to either improvise, adapt and overcome or face extinction. Now some eight years after the Irish construction bubble burst we look at company success stories following how they improvised and adapted to this new economic envi-ronment and how they overcame it.

Irish construction success stories

Hill Engineering is one such com-pany that has had to adapt in order to stay competitive. This approach has resulted in an innovative workforce demonstrated, not least, by their latest product, the Tefra Quick Coupler. This product is a perfect example of innovation to solve a problem, designed to ensure safety and eliminate one of the most dangerous aspects of handling attachments – the subsequent risk of it coming away completely.

Another Irish based company has adapted an innovative approach to how it minimizes waste production, with all materials used on its constr2uction sites obtained from environ-mentally friendly sources wherever possible. This sustainability laid approach has helped Lagan Construction not only procure work throughout Ireland but also provided them with a competitive edge that other construction companies are yet to offer. This has resulted in them obtaining large scale construction builds such as Olympic Stadium in England and three airport contracts in the Isles of Scilly, Bristol in the U.K. and Minot Air Force Base in N1orth Dakota, U.S.

Economic decline also resulted in homeowners and perspective home-owners looking at ways to make energy savings. This had a knock on effect on the construction industry with a need for more eco-friendly, sustainable homes. Sextants Con-struction recognized this new market want and adapted its own approach to meet this demand. They now focus solely on energy efficient con-struction, continually increasing and refining their skills and abilities to im-prove the quality of the product and service that they provide.


It is clear these companies all have one common denominator and that is their ability to improvise, adapt and overcome great obstacles in their own business environment and industry. In these cases, economic ruin was overcome with bright new prod-ucts with great futures ahead for all.

More important to note each of these companies have been publicly recognized by the Irish construction industry with certificates and acco-lades showing them each to be mar-ket leaders in their field. The future is bright for all of these companies with the Irish construction industry releas-ing its best performance figures in almost two years in the last quarter of 2014.

The writer is a professional

Irish blogger.



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