Derry Refrigerated Transport is to create 50 jobs with the opening of a new hi tech facility on the outskirts of Portadown.
It is the first phase of a new £9 million facility at Carn set to cement DRT’s position as one of the leading distributors of chilled and frozen food on the island of Ireland.
Kilmore man Patrick Derry acknowledges he has hit a speed bump or two along the road to creating one of the area’s most successful businesses.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey – there have been huge challenges along the way,” said Patrick, “but all my working life I have abided by the principle ‘be honest and be straight’ and that has stood by me.
“Over the past year, the business has done really well, with sales up by 42% and employee numbers up by 15%. We are planning further expansion and are open to acquisitions, north and south, if they are the right fit.
“Carn Coldstore, which will employ the latest technology to create the only facility of its kind on the island, is key to taking the business to a whole new level.”
It’s a far cry from Patrick’s early beginnings as an entrepreneur when, aged 9, he earned pocket money by selling tomato boxes in a fruit and veg market in Belfast.
“I left school at 15 because I wanted to make money and saw an opportunity to do it working with my dad at the old wholesale market at Balmoral,” he said.
“A few years later, when the large UK supermarkets came into the NI market and began squeezing out the middleman, I decided to go in another direction.”
Patrick, then still a teenager, bought a lorry and a trailer to set up his own business aimed at distributing chilled and frozen food directly from producers to retailers.
Today, having recently celebrated his 40th birthday, the business boasts a fleet of 70 lorries, along with 127 fridges and 200 staff, based at the Vicarage Road depot.
With profits consistently ploughed back into the business, including the acquisition of a majority shareholding in Brennan Transport, Co Waterford, DRT can guarantee delivery to anywhere on the island inside 12 hours.
Patrick is supported in the business by his wife Fiona, a qualified solicitor from Leixlip, Co Kildare, and is the proud father of three young children: Rachel (8), Daniel (6) and two-year-old Thomas.
The family are delighted that Patrick’s success is being recognised as a finalist in the Industry category of this year’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, which culminate in Dublin in November.
“It’s a great honour to be shortlisted for this highly prestigious award, which recognises significant contributions to the Irish economy,” he said. “In all, there are 24 finalists in three categories, but only six are from Northern Ireland.
“EOY is special because it offers finalists a fantastic opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs from across the island and to share our experiences of creating and growing innovative businesses.
“For example, I recently returned from the 2019 CEO Retreat in Hong Kong where, along with over 70 EOY alumni, I visited the industrial centres of Shenzhen and Macau. It was an amazing experience!”