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It’s all about the people – says Thermo King chief as 40 years at Shannon Free Zone is celebrated


Shannon Group makes presentation to US company as a thank you for four decades of commitment to region

Four decades of commitment to the Shannon Free Zone has been honoured with a presentation to one of its long-standing operations, Thermo King.

The global leader in transport refrigeration units is this year celebrating its 80th birthday but an important Irish milestone has also been reached as it marks 40 years of operations at Shannon.

Just two years after it set up its first European manufacturing facility in Galway, where it currently employs 600 people, the company – which started out manufacturing refrigeration units for trucks but today is a world leader in high performance heating and cooling units for trailers, truck bodies, buses, shipboard containers and rail cars – identified the need for a European distribution centre.

A visit to Shannon to look at what the already thriving Free Zone had to offer satisfied the requirements of the company’s global executives and all of 40 years later Thermo King remains as committed to and happy with their south east Clare location.

Today the company now operates out of a 57.000sq ft premises in the Free Zone – double the size of its initial footprint – with just short of 40 people employed there.

To mark the occasion for its four decades of investment in the Free Zone and the region, Ray O’Driscoll, Managing Director of Shannon Group’s property wing, Shannon Commercial Properties made a presentation to the company of a sculpture by Achill Island artist Ronan Halpin. The company also held a barbecue at Durty Nelly’s at the weekend attended by current and past employees and contractors.

Speaking afterwards, he said:  “Thermo King are part of the Shannon Free Zone family for so long now that it was only right we would mark this anniversary.  They are the market leaders globally in their sector and the fact that they have been here for all this time is a huge vote of confidence in the Free Zone as a location for investment.  Thermo King have been a constant here and we look forward to working with them long into the future.”

Thermo King’s Aftermarket EMEA Distribution Manager Michael Stratford, who oversees the operations at Shannon, said that the company’s investment in Co. Clare has been mutually beneficial.  “Back in 1978 there was a lot of incentives to come here but that’s not the story of why we are here all these years later. We are not here either because of our automation or the level of investment we have made in technology, both of which have been significant. We are here because of the people.

“Our people have a huge loyalty and commitment and they think like owners.  They have a huge loyalty also to customers and that’s essential as they treat each and every one of them as if they are their own.  Customers need that level of care.  At the end of the day, our people drive our metrics; they are the reason why we are always in the top quartile.”

The Shannon chief said being part of a dynamic business environment has also been hugely beneficia.   “We have had a great relationship with the Shannon Group team here and continue to have that positive relationship.  We are also very happy to see the advancements that have been taking place here over recent years, to see the level of investment going into the Free Zone and those new buildings being developed, new companies moving in.  It sends a very positive signal.”


About Thermo King

We deliver ultimate assurance. Our quality products and services are recognized around the world for reliability, efficiency, and innovation. Our customers have peace of mind that Thermo King will keep them running at maximum capacity to grow their business. Thermo King, a brand of Ingersoll Rand, was founded in 1938 and leads the world in manufacturing and innovating transport temperature control systems for a variety of mobile applications, including trailers, truck bodies, buses, shipboard containers and rail cars.

Thermo King currently has nine plants in six countries. Our customers get the same high product quality, whether we manufacture their units in Hastings, Wujiang, or Kolin. We are committed to providing products that are ecologically responsible and high performers. In addition, our people share a common commitment to prosperity through growth and international trade.

Our global network reach provides service almost anywhere in the world. We offer Thermo King service at every crossroads and in every port. When the customers can’t come to us, we go to them. Thermo King supports a parts and distribution system that can deliver any of 20,000 parts, anywhere in the world, overnight.

Even better than fast and efficient response to problems anywhere, is preventing them in the first place. Simulation analysis is part of our design process, so the breakdown points of parts and units are corrected in advance, not discovered in use. Our labs, the most sophisticated in the transport refrigeration industry, perform endurance testing to replicate the severe and extreme conditions in which our products perform. An extensive customer network monitors performance data of units in actual use.

Lastly, we believe training the best people is how we ensure that our customers get the fastest, smartest, most up-to-date service.  We have ultimate assurance in our quality products, reliable services, and expert people.

About Shannon Group

Shannon Group plc formally came into existence in September 2014. We are owned by the Irish State and have a commercial mandate. Our business span four key areas:

Shannon Airport is a profitable and expanding airport serving a range of short-haul and long-haul destinations. It’s Ireland’s second long-haul airport and the gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way.

Shannon Commercial Properties owns and operates a range of business and industrial parks in the Shannon/Limerick area and across the Midwest of Ireland. The flagship park, the Shannon Free Zone, was the first Customs Free Zone in the world and is home for over 100 firms employing 7000 staff.

Shannon Heritage operates Bunratty Castle, King John’s Castle, GPO ‘Witness History’ Visitor Experience and a range of other leading heritage tourism attractions across Ireland.

IASC, the International Aviation Services Centre, is an aerospace industry cluster centred on Shannon Airport, building on Shannon’s historic strengths in aviation finance and aircraft maintenance to offer an ideal location for international aerospace firms seeking to benefit from Ireland’s – and the region’s – business advantages.

Shannon Group combines Shannon Airport with the property assets of Shannon Development, the former regional development agency, including Shannon Heritage.

Shannon Group is led by its Chairman, Rose Hynes, and CEO, Matthew Thomas.

Shannon Commercial Properties

Shannon Commercial Properties (SCP) owns and manages seven business and technology parks, including the iconic Shannon Free Zone. All in all, SCP owns over 2 million square feet of building space (equivalent in area to about 17 Croke Park pitches), more than 245 buildings, and approximately 1,600 acres of land. SCP also manages the Shannon Airport property portfolio and works closely with the airport and IASC to formulate plans for future aviation development.

SCP is currently undertaking a significant investment programme to deliver new advanced manufacturing units, warehousing and Grade A office space, which will enable more FDI and the growth of indigenous companies.

The 600-acre Shannon Free Zone is SCP’s largest business park and Ireland’s largest multi-sector business park outside of Dublin.

Shannon Commercial Properties generates €12 million per annum in GVA for the State and contributes €3.8 million per annum in tax revenue to the Exchequer. Shannon Commercial Properties operations support 81 jobs.