Founded in January 1990, Century Homes is now the largest housing timber frame (roof trusses, walls, door units, floors) manufacturing business in Ireland and the UK, employing over 320 staff.
Century started life in the head of Gerry McCaughey, who as a college undergraduate completed three different projects on "timber frame" - all pointing to factual and technical reasons why all houses should be built this way:
- It halves the builders time on site
- It saves cost for onsite storage and security
- It reduces likelihood of injury
- It reduces the role of the powerful "block layers"
- It has higher levels of insulation and environmental benefits.
The Market was "Mortar"
However, the house building market was almost all mortar based and none of the timber frame companies in existence at that stage offered the complete house build frames or was able to educate the market.
Getting Timber Frame Adopted
Gerry has done just that. His strategy recognised that the task on hand was akin to that of the four-strand, new-technology adoption task. He had to:
- Ensure that the product was of the highest quality, if it was to be used as a replacement. He therefore has all four quality marks (Q mark, ISO 9001, ISO 14,001, Excellence in People) and he devised innovative and patented processes to underpin and produce that top quality.
- Educate the market as to the benefits of timber frame. He has therefore invested huge personal time and resources in ensuring, for example, that Ireland's new building regulations did not discriminate against timber frame. He has also spoken extensively about and for timber frame in all media.
- Push aggressively out into the market, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to sell timber frame to builders (in the early days this was Monday to Friday) and to one-off builds (this was Saturday and Sunday). He sold effectively, targeting initial builders who had previous experience or overseas experience of timber frame. He also understood the key reason why his new technology is often not adopted - it can demand huge process, people and cultural change for the prospective buyer. This needs to be addressed in the sales process.
- Then he deployed the market pull strategy to carry the business into large scale revenue by branding the business. An early indication of market pull was the €500,000 in sales over the internet in six months.
Gerry has executed all of these strategy elements and opened a new market in a very traditional and tough sector. Century Homes now has an increasing market share and rising sales revenues. He puts it down to "persistence beats resistance", his fifth strand to ensuring successful new technology.
"Gerry McCaughey, Managing Director, Century Homes
Ernst & Young Industry Entrepreneur Of The Year ® 2003. Ireland"