Advert

“It’s a very different business today. It used to be just about selling boxes of paper,” says Colin Diamond, the co-owner of Sligo Supply Centre.

Just over 40 years after the company was founded, Colin is reflecting on a journey that has seen the business change and adapt over time to include many different services.

Colin joined the business 20 years ago when the sole offering was office stationery and equipment. Then came the internet and the revolution in technology.

The business still sells sought-after office supplies and furniture – but these days it also specialises in bespoke 3D office design for multi-nationals and SMEs locally and across Ireland. In addition to this they also specialise in the installation of interactive whiteboards, projectors and photocopiers for schools and businesses.

“We are a technology company as much as an office supplies firm as we have always adapted and moved with trends in business and tech,” says Colin.

Perhaps it’s no surprise to find that some of Sligo Supply Centre’s longest standing business partnerships are with technology giants such as Toshiba, Samsung and Brother.

It might have ‘Sligo’ in its name but the Supply Centre services customers all over Ireland; it recently designed and installed many full office fit-outs for some of the largest multi-national firms in the country including Dublin and Galway.

Co-owner Clorah McGavigan puts the firm’s success – it supports 15 full-time local jobs – down to the level of customer service and loyalty that the firm consistently strives for. “We have great relationships with staff, clients and suppliers,” says Clorah, a Donegal native.

“We pride ourselves on our continuous efforts to improve the service, to offer a great experience and to exceed expectations. We have a great team doing that every day.”

Clorah joined Sligo Supply Centre in 1996, the same year that Colin, who is from Ballisodare, came on board.

Clorah&Colin

Clorah Mc Gavigan and Colin Diamond.

The firm was very different back then. Founded in late 1975 by Seamus Gilligan, Donal Healy and the late Eddie Spellman, Sligo Supply Centre was based in Grattan Street in Sligo town.

“They sold office stationery of course,” says Colin. “But they also sold the old repro-graphic machines, typewriters, furniture and all kinds of packaging.

“I joined in a purchasing role and then became Sales Manager. It’s easy to forget that the three founders had brought the firm through a bad recession in the 1980s.”

Clorah was given the task of modernising operations – like many firms in the pre-internet era, Sligo Supply Centre relied solely on paper records.

She brought in computerised systems and over time, like Colin, learned all aspects of the business from Seamus, Donal and Eddie.

In 2008, the three founders decided to step back and sell the business; with their deep experience of managing the business, Clorah and Colin were ideally placed to take over.

A management buy-out took place and in November, both became joint-owners of a successful business, employing over a dozen people.

SC1

Back (from left): Jason Jackson, Glen Monaghan, Charlotte Mc Cloat, Dwayne Curran, Eugene Devaney, Kevin Gildea, Oisin Hartigan and Andrew Siberry. Front: Stephen Healy, Clorah Mc Gavigan, Colin Diamond.

Then the recession struck and, like many companies, Sligo Supply Centre fought hard to keep the business competitive. “Thankfully we came through it,” says Colin.

“It was a nervous time for businesses and we had just taken over. Such timing! But it’s a source of great pride to myself and Clorah that not only did we manage to maintain our business but we survived and established growth again.”

Clorah credits much of that success to the staff at the firm. “We’re a well-established business and we have a vibrant office with a great mix of people. They are a fantastic team and always open to change, adopting technologies and digital skills that we use in our sales and marketing.”

An early adopter of social media, Sligo Supply Centre is a familiar brand to regular users of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. “The engagement is important,” says Colin. “We speak to our customers and we listen to what they want.”

In 2011, the company bought out Western Stationers in Sligo, and Sligo Supply Centre moved to a new HQ in Ballast Quay – allowing it to put administration, operations and distribution channels, as well as a showroom, under one roof, in Ballast Quay. The company’s retail shop has remained in Castle Street.

“We were looking to expand and it was a good time to do it. The picture now is a good one. The economic outlook is improving all the time and we’re busy. Here’s to another 40 years!”

SC2&3

Retail Staff at Castle Street, Tommy Finan and Keith Dykes and Rebecca Diamond and Vicki Sherlock