WHEN Petsafe announced plans for 56 jobs at their new European Headquarters in Dundalk, it only came after an exhaustive search which lasted ten years and saw 27 countries competing against each other for the American business.
What made the difference? According to MD of Petsafe Ireland European HQ, David Verdon and Vice-President Laurie MacNair, the sheer desire on the people within the town to attract the business was something of a deal breaker.
“The pro-business attitude in Dundalk was a big factor in our decision,” says Mr Verdon, who is originally from Dublin. “We were definitely struck with how much the people in Dundalk wanted it. They were hungrier then elsewhere.
“The infrastructure in Dundalk is excellent, giving us ease of access to both Dublin and Belfast. The business rates and the cost of renting property here also made Dundalk an attractive option,” says Mr Verdon, whose open-plan office space looks out upon new Market Square. “We were looking at spaces in the outskirts of Dundalk but we wanted to be in the town centre.”
David says that he has been impressed by the work of Town Centre Manager Andrew Mawhinney, David Story from the Town Council, Paddy Malone from the Chamber of Commerce and the IDA who David says deserve huge credit for the move to Dundalk.
It’s not just one way traffic, as David says, the company are looking at putting money back into the local economy.
“We have a budget of €1million, lots of which will be flowing directly back into the town’s economy.”
“Already we are regulars at both Barry’s and at Panama,” says Ms MacNair, who has flown over from Tennesse to oversea the set-up of the headquarters.
In terms of countries, it came down to a final three of Denmark, Switzerland and Ireland.
“We were attacted by the corporate tax rate here, which is huge factor when you are looking to invest,” says Laurie. “This was a long process, that has taken place over the course of a decade. This was not a quick decision. We have been looking at getting a team on the ground in Europe for years, and this is culmination of that.
“Irish employment laws have also been attractive to us. They are more pro-business and less complicated in comparision with other European countries.”
Petsafe will eventually employ 56 people in Dundalk over the course of three years. Twenty people are already working at the office and they hope to employ a further 25 by the end of the year.
Petsafe are also looking to reinvest in the community by supporting charitable initiatives.
“We are very interested in animal welfare and educating young people,” says Laurie, who herself owns a number of rehomed greyhounds. “We will be looking at a number of local charities such as the LSPCA who will have already visited here.”
Indeed following the interview Laurie made a visit to a local dog shelter where she found a new greyhound, called Godfrey, who can be seen in our photographs.
One thing is clear, Dundalk has collared another great business, and one that’s a (Pet)safe bet for the future.