Bunclody firm in running for major award
A Bunclody based company is in the running for a prestigious national award which will be presented later this month.
The inaugural Energia Family Business awards ceremony will be held in the Round Room of the Mansion House, Dublin, on May 24, and among the finalists will be Craft Shapes Ireland which is a company located in Carrigduff, Bunclody.
The business, which is owned and operated by Melvin and Maria Porter, has been nominated in the Best Customer Service category.
The web based company - which can be accessed at www.craftshapesireland.ie - is a craft manufacturing business that was set up three years ago.
Despite being a new company the business has made great strides within the crafting sector and is now recognised as one of the country's foremost suppliers of quality craft shapes, embellishments and premium wooden boxes.
Maria Porter expressed delight that the business was selected as a finalist: 'We are absolutely over the moon to be considered in such a manner for our levels of customer service.'
She said the company places a lot of importance on its customers' needs and commented: 'We feel like we know them personally and because of the work that we do and the level of custom work we do we really feel like we have known them all our lives.'
Melvin Porter said the motivation behind starting the business was borne out of them not being happy in their previous jobs.
'We were both in jobs we weren't overly happy with,' he said.
He also said that having had their first daughter the couple decided they wanted to spend more time with her and as a result things had to change.
'Maria had taken up crafting as a destresser from her high pressured job but was finding it difficult to source supplies in Ireland,' he said.
'I was looking for a change too, I always loved working with wood, and it was wooden shapes Maria was looking for mostly,' he added.
The couple decided over a cup of tea at the kitchen table to supply Ireland with the wooden shapes that were proving difficult for Maria to get.
In January 2016, following the birth of two more children, the couple decided to take the plunge and launch Craft Shapes Ireland from a shed at the back of their house.
After expanding to a purpose built workshop Melvin and Maria are now working from Carrigduff, Bunclody.
'We are thrilled to be now working from Bunclody,' said Melvin, who is from the area.
Moving closer to home also allows him time to help out on the family farm - another family business.
'Now that we have more space to create our products we find we are better able to provide a higher level of customer service to our customers,' said Maria.
'We are more able to respond to queries in a timely manner and keep our lead times as short as humanly possible,' she added.
Around 80 per cent of the company's products are personalised so each piece has to be individually designed and created.
However, for the Maria and Melvin running their business is a labour of love as Maria explained: 'We absolutely love it, we love our customers, we adore making new products and take heart in the knowledge that items we have created here in our little workshop now reside in homes in all of the 32 counties and many countries across the world.'
The couple are very appreciative of their loyal customers without whom their success story would not be possible.
Over 200 entries were received for this year's Energia Family Business Awards and making it to the final is a testimony of the quality and professionalism of Craft Shapes Ireland.
Event director, Katherine O'Riordan, said Irish family businesses have always been a 'fundamental part of the Irish community'.