Based in Balla Co. Mayo, Tommy Griffith is the founder and CEO of PEL Waste Reduction Equipment. In the past decade, PEL has lead the way in designing innovative waste handling solutions used by customers throughout the world.
Tommy attributes much of his innovation and dedication to his background growing up on a family farm in county Mayo. As with business no two days on a farm are the same, each day brings new challenges and Tommy learned how to navigate constantly evolving environments from an early age.
Tell us About Your Business.
I started PEL Waste Reduction Equipment back in 2005. We manufacture and supply equipment that reduce waste disposal costs for hotels, pubs, restaurants and any other commercial businesses that produce waste, by as much as 80%. Our Product range includes glass bottle crushers, bin compaction systems and balers for cardboard and plastic.
PEL have won a number of prestigious awards including ‘Best New Innovation’ for the Baby Jaws bottle crusher at Gulfood 2014 – the world’s largest food and hospitality trade show. PEL was also a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009.
Why are you located in the West of Ireland?
The West of Ireland is an excellent place to locate a business. It offers a fantastic quality of life unrivaled in much of the world. It also provides high quality personnel and has direct access to the UK via Ireland West Airport in Knock.
When did you start your business and what inspired you to do this?
I started PEL Waste Reduction Equipment in 2005. I wanted to enter a market that had the potential for growth and that I could bring to a global market. So I knew that if I could develop products for reducing waste I could expand globally.
What were your start-up costs?
I used my own capital and got support from the Local Enterprise office. At the beginning I did not give credit to customers so I would have positive cash flow, while negotiating strong credit terms with our suppliers.
Where is your market? How have you targeted international markets?
PEL’s Main customers are in the hospitality sector. Every hotel, pub and restaurant in the world are potential customers.
We distribute our products through two different channels
- Direct to customers: in Ireland from our manufacturing facility in Mayo, in the UK from our office in London and in the USA from our base in Cleveland, Ohio.
- We use distributors in other countries like Finland, France and Australia.
How long did it take you to get your business off the ground?
It takes time to build a business and a strong brand. It’s in the last 3 years that PEL has established itself as a global brand and we now have offices in both the UK and the USA along with distributors and agents internationally. We also expect to see strong growth and expansion over the next 24 months.
How did you learn and acquire the skills you use to make your business successful?
My skills are primarily built from experience and learning from other entrepreneurs who are always willing to share knowledge.
How do you continue to grow and learn?
In business you learn every day as you face and overcome new challenges. Business is simple as long as you keep it that way.
How do you promote your business?
There are a number of different ways I promote PEL. The main three would be networking, referrals and trade shows like Gulfood.
If you had to do it all over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?
If I had to do it all over again, of course there are things I would do differently. I’ve learnt so much from the entire process, that if I were to do it all over it’d be a lot easier the second time around – you can’t buy experience!
What do you love about being your own boss? What are the drawbacks?
I love being independent and creating my own destiny but as the boss I have a responsibility to my staff and customers and that’s probably the biggest challenge I face being my own boss.
What should happen in the West of Ireland to encourage further entrepreneurship?
Continued investment in both infrastructure and education create the best possible environment in which to start a business and I believe that’s the best tool to encourage further entrepreneurship.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about life in the West?
Go for it! It’s probably the best place in the world to live and raise a family.
More about PEL Recycling at pelmfg.com