Aidan Harte, Director of the Month

Article appeared in Windows Active: March 2020   Working Day: No working day is the same, but I have regular meetings and catch-ups with production, operations, finance and the sales team to ensure I’m up-to-speed with all areas of the business. I usually reach the office shortly after 8am and I work until about 6pm. I’m a strong believer in the work-life balance, and I think if you get enough downtime you work more effectively. Working Location: I’m based in our head office and manufacturing facility in Cork, with travel every couple of weeks to Northampton,...

Article appeared in Windows Active: March 2020

 

Working Day: No working day is the same, but I have regular meetings and catch-ups with production, operations, finance and the sales team to ensure I’m up-to-speed with all areas of the business. I usually reach the office shortly after 8am and I work until about 6pm. I’m a strong believer in the work-life balance, and I think if you get enough downtime you work more effectively.

Working Location: I’m based in our head office and manufacturing facility in Cork, with travel every couple of weeks to Northampton, where we have our UK manufacturing and distribution base, and to Continental Europe.

Facts and Figures

First job?

My uncle owned a butcher shop in Cork, and I worked there during the summer holiday when I was 14 years old. It was a great experience and gave me my first taste of business, covering everything from buying livestock from local farmers right through to selling the finished product back over the counter to the same farmers.

When did you join your current company?

I joined Freefoam in 1993 as Financial Controller. It was a small business with about 25 employees and two extrusion lines. Freefoam expanded rapidly from that point with the UK quickly becoming the mainstay of the business as the years moved on. By the turn of the century Freefoam had opened a distribution base in Northampton, and this then expanded to a full-scale manufacturing operation.

Most useful/favourite gadget?

It’s hard to beat the iPhone for ease of use and for getting all the necessary information you need quickly. My Surface Pro is great for desktop work and for giving me flexibility to work on-the-go.

Most useful/favourite website?

I have my go-to websites for news (irishtimes.com and telegraph.co.uk). Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to shop more online – and I’ve even made a few purchases! It’s taken some getting used to as I hate the thought of returning items, but I can definitely see the benefit of online shopping.

Recommended hotel for business?

I like The Hopping Hare in Northampton. It’s a small, intimate hotel where you are known by all the team. Unsurprisingly, it’s difficult to get a room there as it’s so popular with Northampton businesses.

Favourite UK restaurant?

When I go to London - for business or pleasure - I always try to book a table at Cecconi’s in Burlington Gardens. There’s a great buzz whatever time of the day you visit, and the food is always great.

Business person you most admire?

I have great admiration for Bill Gates. He comes across as a modest person and he’s given away so much of his wealth to good causes. It can’t be ignored that he created the largest company in the world by market capitalisation. Microsoft is at the centre of everything we do as we go about our working lives.

Best business decision?

The best decision we made at Freefoam was making a commitment to the UK market by investing in a modern, integrated manufacturing plant to include extrusion, mixing and distribution. This site in St. James, Northampton now has 16 extrusion lines for foam and rigid product and employs 150 people.

Our decision to put a greater emphasis on Western European markets over 10 years ago has also paid dividends for Freefoam. We’ve developed a strong presence in France and continue to grow in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Other interests?

I’m a sports fanatic. I’m from Cork so I have a natural affinity with Gaelic Games which are part of our national identity. I also have a huge interest in Munster and Irish Rugby. I’m involved in coaching youngsters at my local GAA club and I get a great kick out of that, especially after a tough day at the office!



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