Two volunteers have set up a new company in the Mid-West after spotting a niche area of the construction sector that the multi-nationals are ill-equipped to compete in.
The market opportunity became clear to Ursula Mullane, a graduate engineer and former Dell employee, and John Lyons, former construction worker, through delivering a volunteer handyman repair service to older people in Limerick city. They saw that many younger people have nobody to call when they want to get a simple repair job done, they can’t afford to be ripped off and don’t know who to trust.
Ursula, the manager, describes their novel social enterprise as “another great example of local people bucking this recessionary trend while improving the quality of life in their community.”
“Our aim is to take the fear out of finding a handyman to do those little jobs around your home that you may not have the time or skill to tackle yourself,” said Ursula. “We want our clients to be confident that the person coming through their door is qualified to do the job, is honest, hardworking and is not going to charge the earth.”
They’ll even call around for a spot of gardening or to put the Christmas decorations away for you in the attic. No job is too small.
The business received start-up support from the PAUL Partnership and Limerick City Enterprise Board and was officially launched on March 12th.
If the concept is taken up nationwide, it could lead to the creation of hundreds of steady employment positions. There is already a growing national network of Care & Repair services (restricted in who they will assist) which could provide the natural springboard.
CRM are also offering preventative maintenance contracts (prices on their website). Additionally, the company is setting up a trades referral service, whereby they refer clients who have jobs too big for them to reputable tradespeople.
Explaining the referral system in more detail, Ursula said they hoped to “revolutionise the way we access a network of qualified, dependable tradespeople.”
There are big national revolutions and there are small social ones at community level that history does not usually record.
Up and down the country, there are many community initiatives being launched that we would be happy to spread word about if they’re truly innovative and others could follow your example. Call us!
Meanwhile, for more, see John Lyon’s interview in our Volunteer Profile.
We can change the world, but light bulbs are tricky!
Many of our readers are trying to change the world, or at least a part of it, yet we can’t all change light bulbs.
Not if we’re anything like our neighbours across the water at any rate.
Survey results published in March disclosed that one in 10 people in Britain aged 18-25 years had called out a tradesperson to change a light bulb.
If Ireland is anyway similar, the survey reveals the potential size of the market which Ursula Mullane and John Lyons appear to have stumbled upon.
The pollsters found that more than half of under-35 year olds agreed they needed help with DIY.
The survey, for a British insurance company, found that 42% did not know how to bleed a radiator.
Nearly twice as many women (47%) as men (29%) needed help with most DIY tasks. Reflecting stereotypes, the figures were reversed when it came to stitching and sewing.
The insurance company commissioned the survey to highlight the need for landlords to have better cover.
Meanwhile, if you’re one of those who stares at a busted light bulb wondering what to do, you know now you’re not alone.