Niall O’Hanlon is the Operations Director at Toddsleap Racking & Shelving Ltd, based in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone. The business supplies storage system solutions for all types of industry across the UK and Ireland, including racking shelving, cantilever systems and mezzanine floors.
On leaving school Niall commenced an apprenticeship in the workshop of the family business; during this time, he also worked alongside the installation team where he learnt about different aspects of the business. In the past 17 years, Niall has progressed through the business, from supervisor to manager level, before assuming the role of a company director. Niall’s current role involves looking after the operations of the entire business.
Alongside working in the business, Niall continued his studies, completing a range of qualifications and industry training courses, including a degree in Mechanical Engineering (Manufacturing Specialism), IOSH Managing Safely, Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management, Level 3 in Fabrication and Welding, and ATV, firearms and off-road driving.
Reflecting on his educational achievements, Niall stated that he enjoyed the courses he completed, particularly the Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Sector (PTLLS) course which gave him the skills he needed to engage with people, and to understand and manage the range of learning types encountered during the delivery of training; these techniques allowed him to accommodate the needs of all learners, using a zoomed in/out approach. He also believes that the management and leadership course he completed aided his knowledge and ability to engage on a professional level with clients and colleagues. Niall now enjoys meeting new clients, to see how their business and warehousing works which allows him the opportunity to offer efficient storage solutions and improvements.
On a day-to-day basis, Niall is involved in the running of a busy company, part of which involves dealing with various teams such as sales, manufacturing and accounting; he is also involved in offering operational excellence and looking for continual improvements through processes and staff training and mentoring. Niall recognises that it can be difficult finding, nurturing and mentoring talent, that’s why he believes it’s important to work to improve his own, as well as his employees’ work experience to help increase productivity, along with making tasks easier.
In terms of sustainability and the importance of this within the business, Niall advised that technology is vastly improving the business, offering faster solutions with CAD abilities, and vehicle tracking to help improve logistics. The business is currently investing in the introduction of autonomous and robotic machinery to help with skills deficits. Looking ahead to a greener future, the business also plans to introduce solar panels and battery storage, along with e-vehicles. He also has a vision to further expand the business into new markets and offer new products, ranging from storage to business solutions.
Going forward, Niall aims to retain a good work-life balance; he plans to continue enjoying spending time with his family and friends, particularly his wife Karen and two daughters. Outside of work, Niall is passionate about off-road motorcycles, and regularly completes in enduro riding (cross country and hard enduro).
Asked to give advice to someone interested in a career in this industry, Niall stated this is a growing market; businesses will always need storage solutions. He explained that a job in this industry is “like a gateway in to seeing a snapshot of all types of industries, the installers can be working in a food processing plant one day and the next, in an engineering workshop". Thinking over his own career and about the staff he employs, Niall said “happy hens lay more eggs”. People need to do something they enjoy and are passionate about - if they find the right industry to work in, they can excel in it.