Cookstown Company BA Components Success Built On Top Quality And Expansion

The Cookstown company was created thanks to the £3,000 sale of a motorbike. Almost 25 years on it employs 230 people and boasts a turnover of around £30m, as Lindsay Fergus discovers

BA Components in Cookstown, Co Tyrone has plenty to celebrate as it approaches its 25th anniversary. The kitchen, bedroom and bathroom door manufacturer has two UK bases, employs hundreds of people and its products are sold globally.

And earlier this month, BA Components was named Best Ulster SME in the Ulster Bank Achievers Awards and next week will travel to Dublin in hope of picking up the all-Ireland title.

So it’s hard to believe that when Brian McCracken tried to set up BA Components, no one would lend him the money he needed.

David Caulfield, BA Components sales and marketing manager, said: “He always wanted to have his own business so he went out on his own. He couldn’t get money from anywhere. Nobody would lend him money so he sold what was very special to him, a motorbike that he got £3,000 for, and started the business.

“It has gone from this £3,000 he got for selling his motorbike 25 years ago to turnover of about £30m and employing 230 people over two factories, it’s a bit of a success story.”

Mr McCracken showcased his handiwork at exhibitions in England and it wasn’t long until the orders were flowing in. Within a year his twin Kieran had joined him in the business.

Now 98% of everything made in Cookstown goes into the UK mainland while Doncaster supplies 23 countries including New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.

“You could buy one of our kitchen and bedroom doors in most Irish retailers or you could go into a large multiple like Homebase or Wickes in England and take home a kitchen that was made here.”

Everything made by BA Components in Cookstown bears its own brand while everything made in Doncaster will have somebody else’s brand on it like Homebase, Wickes or Magnet.

Not only are BA Components’ doors featured in homes but they are also used in hotels and cruise ships.

“You could be sitting in a hotel in Singapore and hanging your clothes up in a wardrobe that was made here or you could buy a condominium in Manila and be closing our kitchen doors or you could move to Australia or New Zealand and go out to a big B&Q-type store and buy our kitchen doors there.”

Mr Caulfield attributes the success to innovation and quality – quality of manufacturing, product design and customer service.

“We decided not to take part in the recession. In a challenging market with changing economic pressures it’s important to stay ahead of trends and have the ability to react quickly and not be afraid to lead the way,” Mr Caulfield said.

“Rather than become introspective and worry about what was going wrong in the market around us we looked out, we expanded, we acquired Doncaster, we put on more sales people, we developed more products which made us stronger in relation to everybody else and ready then when the market improved.”

A new market BA Components is entering is builders’ merchants with a product called ‘Complete’, which is basically everything for the kitchen in a box except the sink, and in January it’s launching a new sliding doors collection.

Mr Caulfield added: “We want to extend the markets we are in geographically, we have ambitious plans in place for the next three or four years with a view to doubling our turnover.”

He explained why they entered the Business Achievers awards: “Customers like to see things like that on your literature but I think it gives recognition and further motivation to the people who work for BA. It is for them rather than anyone else.”