Spotlight on Malone Group
Stephen Malone, Malone Group
Having worked in various engineering roles early in his career throughout the 1990s, mechanical engineer Stephen Malone decided in 1998 to go it alone. At that stage, he was employed by a US firm, which had shelved major investment plans in Ireland in light of the Asian financial crisis. However, buoyed by the insight he had already gained into how the engineering community operated, and with no major family commitments to hold him back, Malone set up Malone Group in 1999.
“Others I had worked with and went to college with weren't surprised,” Malone says of setting up his own company. “Thinking back to growing up I would have always had an idea that I would work for myself some day but it didn't go any further than that.”
Headquartered in Blanchardstown, Malone Group is an engineering and safety, project delivery business, which has grown into an industry-leading company managing projects throughout Europe and Canada.
When asked for some advice on running a business in the current environment, Malone highlights a reluctance ‘to think big’ as the most significant barrier to success. “That's my mantra and I think in the SME community that's what we need to do. We need to think bigger,” he says. “People in the early stages of business need to decide whether they want a ‘lifestyle company’ or they want something a little bit more than that. There are too many SMEs that just think of Ireland as their marketplace. Having seen how other countries operate, I think the Irish SME sector has an awful lot to offer and we just need to think bigger.”
Another key piece of advice Malone offers start-up founders is not to take on everything themselves. He advises entrepreneurs to identify what aspects of the business they excel at and where their weak points are. Whatever you’re not good at, Malone says, that's what you outsource.
“I think too many people, myself included, try to do everything themselves and it is a limitation to growth,” he says. “There are things that we are all naturally good at and there are other things that we're not good at. It's important to be honest with yourself and have a degree of self-awareness.”
Malone warns that taking on too much equates to unnecessary stress on a company. “There are a lot of owner/managers that need to be in control of everything and that is restrictive in terms of growth and you have to get the right skills around you,” he advises. “If you're paying somebody for advice, listen to the advice, but certainly outsource things like IT, outsource things like payroll, outsource the day-to-day stuff that gets in the way of doing what you need to do to scale a business.”
Malone Group had a strong year in 2017, following on from heavy investment within the company including a move to replace all its internal systems with one ERP (enterprise resource planning). It culminated in a Best Business Practice Excellence Award win at the Fingal Dublin Business Excellence & CSR Awards. “That's down to the team I have around me,” says Malone modestly. “I am the figurehead of the company but I have a lot of talented people who work here.”
Last year also saw Malone Group scale further through the acquisition of two new businesses – a recruitment firm and a process and ordination company. “In terms of the goals we set ourselves, in pursuit of our five-year strategy plan, we succeeded in our objectives for 2017,” says Malone. The company is currently assessing a suitable entry point into North America, which Malone hopes to launch at some stage.