Rural entrepreneur reaps rewards

Daniel Connolly, the founder of ReCon Waste Management, is a driven, enthusiastic young rural entrepreneur from Co Armagh who is very ambitious about his farm-based diversification businesses.

Connolly joined the 30-hectare family dairy farm in Portadown on leaving school but quickly realised that new income streams were needed to support the family and this could not come from the dairy farm alone. In 2002, using existing farm machinery Connolly set up DC contracts on the farm, a business which supplied screened topsoil and specialised soil mixes to the construction, leisure and landscaping sectors.

The success of DC Contracts topsoil business led to investigations into soil mixes and other aggregates, Connolly identified an emerging new market in the gully/sweeper waste sector. At this particular time changes in waste management legislation began to state that all gully/sweeper waste had to be treated/recycled before going to landfill. DC Contracts realised a valuable resource could be derived from this otherwise ‘waste’.

Local authorities which collect this gully/sweeper waste needed a cost effective way of disposing of this, whilst also ensuring the waste could be diverted from landfill into a useful product and from this opportunity ReCon Waste Management Ltd was established.

ReCon Waste Management receives gully/sweeper waste, inert clay and hardcore from local authorities and private companies and processes it into saleable aggregate.  Currently the business can recycle up to 85 per cent of the gully waste it processes. Both DC Contacts and ReCon Waste Management Ltd continue to operate alongside each other on the family farm and are fully complementary to each other. Daniel continues to drive the company forward for Quality Management Awards and in 2013 ReCon Waste Management was a finalist in the All-Ireland JFC Innovation Awards for Rural Businesses.

Currently Connolly, as always, is looking at other ways of improving their recycling rate and is keen to investigate further the removal of precious metals from the gully/sweeper waste and extend his services to clients across Ireland.  The farm business, whilst not in the forefront of activity on site, is also continuing to grow and diversify and, has recently employed a CAFRE Graduate as a Farm Manager to assist Connolly in the continuing growth and improvement of the dairy farm.

Connolly has always been a strong supporter of the CAFRE Diversification Challenge Programmes, having completed a range of CAFRE courses over the past 10 years. Connolly said: “Farmers should continually look for new business opportunities and avail of support when offered. CAFRE is an excellent source of support which I have availed of to progress my business ideas”.

As part of CAFRE’s ongoing programme to assist farm diversification enterprises which are up and running or about to commence, CAFRE is organising two Diversification Challenge – Business Development Programmes at CAFRE Enniskillen Campus on Thursday 30 January at 7.45pm and Mourne Country Hotel Newry on Tuesday 4 February at 7.30pm.

These programmes will consist of a series of evening workshops involving specialist speakers and mentors focused on helping farm families to develop their business. The topics covered will include selling skills, financial management and e-marketing.

If you feel the programme is of relevance to your business and would like to attend or simply find out more information, please contact Siobhan Sheppard by email siobhan.sheppard@dardni.gov.uk.

Pictured: Daniel Connolly, ReCon Waste, Management, Co Armagh

By Siobhan Sheppard, Rural Enterprise Lecturer, CAFRE

 

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