. . .

Interview: Sean Downey, CIF Director, Specialist Contracting

Sean Downey, CIF DIrector, Specialist Contracting, Mechanical & Electrical


Exciting times for M&E trailblazers!


It’s an exciting time for M&E contractors in particular, says Sean Downey, CIF Director, Specialist Contracting,


“They are at the coalface in the delivery of high-purity, process-type contracts for the likes of major Pharmaceutical and Food companies, Data and Medical Devices.

“Nine times out of ten I would imagine a large or medium-sized Mechanical and Electrical contractor may be the prime contractor that subcontracts all other elements of work including substructure, drainage, foundations and steel.

“It’s a slightly different model than the traditional but it seems to be the approach that private FDI clients in particular have adopted, perhaps because they look at the fabric and the envelope really as just a shell.

“It wraps around a pretty expensive part of the building which is the process pipe work that perhaps purifies the liquid, prepares the milk solution or makes the medical products.

“That piece of equipment is the most important thing for them – not necessarily a piece of cladding on the outside or a concrete slab or steel frame.”


Many M&E companies have been working very closely with FDI clients and understand their needs.

So, over the past ten years it is not surprising that they have perhaps started to adopt the same psyche as the clients.

These clients have looked at continuous improvement and process excellence.

“In every single large FDI company in Ireland you will have a continuous improvement specialist – an in-house continuous improvement manager,” observes Sean Downey.

“It is likely that has started to rub off on the contracting side and M&E contractors in particular, who understand exactly what is required on the shop floor in delivering the product at the end of the day.

“That process and that exercise of looking at jobs and seeing where the opportunity for improvement is and offering the value back to a client and the contracting team in some sort of shared way can be the model adopted.

“I see it growing more and more.

“It is one of the very strong pillars that FDI companies identify when they look for locations.

“They pick Ireland as they know the capacity is here, the expertise is here and the environment and people and culture are here.

“And when it comes to building their project they know the engineering excellence is here to turn it into a reality – on time. The experience and expertise are here.

“When you go to a tender meeting – public or private – they are looking at who will deliver the project.”

Questions will likely include: Are they your staff? Are they coming in from abroad or somewhere else in the country?  Have you worked with them before?

Also: this is very specialized equipment, so do you have track record of installing it?


Says Sean: “The value really comes when a company can sit across the table from a client and say, ‘well, this person has been with me for thirty years and delivered the exact same project three years ago or one very similar – we have the capacity and knowledge within our four walls’.”


Click Here to read the full interview in September issue of CIF Construction magazine