Celebrating 25 years in business, Andy Tierney still holds true the mission statement he wrote in 1995
“T HE very first guy I sold a computer to, we sold it on July 30, 1993 and he’s still a customer of ours.”
So explains Andy Tierney, 25 years after setting up Tierney’s Office Automation in Ennis. Having started his now flourishing IT company from the box room of his house in 1993, on Thursday night last his 40-strong team celebrated a quarter of a century in business at the Temple Gate Hotel.
When Andy was asked to speak on Thursday about the company’s success, he decided to talk about the importance of being friendly in business, an integral part of Andy’s work philosophy. Walking through the doors of Tierney’s in the Quin Road Industrial Estate today, just inside hangs a frame with the company mission statement within, which begins, “Our mission and central purpose is to provide the very best computer solutions, service, support and information in a friendly and efficient way.” All these years later, friendly remains a key word.
Andy explains, “When there were only three people working in this company, I wrote a mission statement in 1995 and not one word has changed in that in 23 years. On Thursday night, when I was asked to talk, I was going to talk about the history of the company but everybody knows about the history. So I decided to talk about respect in business and I picked one word out of our mission statement, ‘friendly’. I spoke for 10 minutes on the word friendly and what it means in business and why it’s important in business.”
Tierney’s has been a journey of huge success, one which Andy began alone in that small box room. Andy, a Mayo native, came to Ennis in the late ‘80s, following in the footsteps of his ‘favourite’ uncle Martin Heaney of Parnell Street television store fame.
“I was made redundant in 1993. At that stage I had a mortgage, I had four kids, I had feck all money because there was a huge financial crisis in 1992… my job wasn’t going that well at the time. I was service manager with a company [in Shannon] and we had had a tough year and half before that, we had laid off a lot of people. In Christmas of 1992, our mortgage repayment was so high in comparison to my wages that we basically had no money left and then in April I was made redundant.”
Establishing his IT solutions business was a decision he made with the help of wife Ann, and having turned down a good job with Microsoft in Dublin they decided to give the business a year before deciding on their future. By 1994, director of operations Eileen McNamara had come on board and Tierney’s can now count more than 300 Irish hotels as customers – that’s almost half of the country’s hotels – and a growing staff base of 40, which happens to include Andy’s son Kevin (senior engineer) and daughter Mary, who works in the finance department.
Andy does however, make the point that once they leave the house, his children are treated no differently to other staff.
Although an engineer by trade, at heart Andy is a born leader. “As long as I can remember I wanted to be manager.
My brothers and sisters tell me that even from when I was four in school, I was always the leader.
Even though – we went to a very small national school – I would have been without any shadow of a doubt the worst footballer, I was the one that managed to put the team together. Through secondary, same thing, I always wanted to be out front. I always wanted to set up my own business.”
Andy continues to evolve as a businessman through his studies, which include a Masters Degree in Work Psychology, a Diploma in Management, a Degree in Theology and a Masters in Theology. All these have combined to help contribute to Andy’s management skills, which he believes are paramount to creating a strong team which in turn has been the reason Tierney’s have maintained and strengthened business relationships.
Tierney’s count the likes of The Armada Hotel, Clare FM, Temple Gate Hotel and Austin Slattery as customers since Day One, along with the man he sold his first computer to.
The devoted GAA man, who has coached at various levels including with the Banner Ladies and Miltown Malbay, has also taken great satisfaction in being able to provide 40 skilled jobs in the local community. Having
given me the guided tour of his offices, Andy adds, “It looked very calm up there today and it is. But those people had answered 105 calls already. They’re so used to it that it’s autopilot and if the shit hits the fan they know what to do, who to fall back on. I’ve got to have a team that can work together. When we go out and get a sale we have to be able to deliver.”
Reflecting on his 25 years, Andy admits money isn’t “anywhere near being the greatest motivator” in running his business.
“Money doesn’t drive me, that’s not to say it’s not important and that I haven’t done pretty well out of it but it’s not what gets me awake in the morning. It’s not in my nature … I like to just travel, go to matches [and] make sure everybody I’m concerned with has enough to get by. That really is the fact of the matter.”