Fran Collier, owner of local trolley making company Trollied, was celebrating landing a major jobs boost for the town after being awarded a lucrative contract from the HSE to supply trolleys to Our Lady of Lourdes Hopsital. A recent start-up company, Trollied currently employs a dozen skilled welders as well as bridging the gap for teenagers between leaving school and full time unemployment.
A keen armchair economist, Collier identified hopsital trolleys and barber shops as the major growth sectors in the region over the past few years.
“In my experience there’s a higher chance of old people visiting the hopsital than the barbers,” explains Collier, whose first entrepreneurial foray was an ill-advised toe dip into the cartel controlled waters of hairdressing.
“The green fella down on Peter Street controls everything. If you don’t laugh at his pranks you might as well give up – nobody will go near you. It’s a closed shop for newcomers. But the hairdressers are the worst. The Latvians have that sewn up. You put up a unisex sign and see what happens…
“Your local snipster is being undercut and priced out of the market. Mark my words, within five years there’ll only be Chinese lads cutting your hair sure you can’t understand them when you call for a takeaway, nor they you. Everyone will have the same haircut. Then where’ll we be?”
After being cut out of the hairdressing business, Collier turned his attention to
the town’s other growth area, hopsital trolleys. With a business plan described by himself as ‘flawless’, Collier sees his company going from strength to strength. The stand-off between Drogheda Borough Council and the town’s supermarkets over who holds responsibility for fishing discarded shopping trolleys from the River Boyne looked like entering a fifth decade until Collier stepped in. Mr. Collier was kind enough to run through the process for us.
“Basically, nobody knows who actually owns rivers as they’re in a constant state of flux. Nobody was taking responsibility for the trolleys dumped there, nevermind the naturally formed ones. What we do is remove the trolleys from the river for a set fee paid by both parties. We then transport them to our factory in the Boyne Industrial Park for refurbishment into state of the art hopsital trolleys.
“I’ve a great contact in the foam business so we’ve the mattresses sorted. Our only big overhead is sourcing those plasticy bedsheets, which we get on eBay from Taiwan. We supply four types of trolley – a private healthcare trolley, a universal adult trolley, a child sized/shrunken elderly trolley and a one for patients who have a toddler with them. The HSE pay a couple of Gs for each one, regardless of the size.”
With an abundant supply of trolleys at his disposal, Collier has not yet had to pay tracksuited youngsters to dump any in the Boyne, though it remains a cost effective solution should needs be. However, skeptics have warned that Boyne trolleys are a finite resource, likening them to dwindling reserves of fossil fuels. In truth, nobody knows how vast the trolley deposit really is. Boyne River water is too murky and magical even for experienced divers to investigate. Eco warrior Rainbow Spirit (real name Gordon Conaghy) point his unwashed finger towards Meath.
“By the time the Boyne gets to Drogheda it’s filthy dirty so we actually can’t
see how many trolleys are down there. They should never have allowed Navan to connect it up with the River Blackwater, it was a good clean river until then. But then the Blackwater was going round in circles. They probably thought they were doing it a favour.”
With the number of patients spending time on trolleys in regional hopsitals set to steadily increase over the coming years, Collier is hopeful of expanding Trollied. There has been talk of floating the company on the ISEQ Index but that was quickly shelved after leading Celtic Tiger economists warned of a South Sea Bubble emerging. Collier plans to expand sooner rather than later.
“We got that bit of luck all start-ups need what with my sister being on the Lourdes procurement board and all. Now she’s gotten a promotion to the whole northeast region we might just expand into Cavan and Meath.”
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