Forty years for Cleary Contracting Ltd

Founded in 1983 after small building jobs started to overtake Pat Cleary’s plumbing trade, Cleary Contracting remains a family firm but its contracts now span the public, private, commercial, heritage and civil engineering sectors…

L-R: Pat Cleary, Jonathan Cleary, Ryan Cleary and Mairead Cleary.

Saying yes has served Cleary Contracting Ltd well. It led to the founding of the Randalstown business 40 years ago and has driven its expansion over the years into the public, private, commercial, heritage and civil engineering sector. Husband and wife Managing Director Pat Cleary and Director Mairead Cleary created the business in 1983 at their Randalstown home, where its headquarters remain today in offices purpose built on the site in 2008 and due to be expanded in 2024. Four decades later, Pat and Mairead remain involved in the business but are increasingly taking a back seat to sons Operations Manager Jonathan Cleary and Project Manager Ryan Cleary, who both joined the family firm in 2005. Pat only got into the construction trade by agreeing to try something new. “I was a plumber by trade, was relatively successful, and one of our clients was showing me a plumbing problem and had multiple building problems as well,” said Pat. “I was hungry for work, so I had a conversation and priced these other bits.

The team at Cleary Contracting includes many long-term employees.

It was only a small project, but I solved his problems that day and that was followed by a similar phone call six months later and then three months and one month later. “There was a three-year period we were almost established builders by solving these problems, and the building business grew and grew and eventually overtook the plumbing business.” Before Pat knew it, he was tendering for public works and bigger contracts, and Cleary Contracting was born. “Over all those years, the one thing we decided to do was build relationships with clients,” said Pat. “A lot of our projects are repeat work due to satisfying our clients’ needs.” A milestone project for Pat over those years was a 2005 contract to improve the accessibility of the Stormont Parliament Buildings, including the rare bronze stair handrails since showcased in every MLA photo opportunity.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the firm. In the early years, Pat and Mairead would sometimes be sitting around the kitchen table until 1am planning out projects while trying to raise four young children. And the 2007-2008 financial crisis was a difficult time for the business. “We were very fortunate as we’d completed a number of large contracts which helped provide continuous work which saw us through a very difficult period,” said Pat. “We were doing work at negative profit or a loss, which was a calculated thing we decided to do to keep our business on the road and our team together. “We had a very slow crawl out of it, the market eventually improved and over the last five or six years, construction has been good again. Forty years later, we’re on a sure footing.”

To read the full feature go to Builder Issue 34-6 Dec-Jan here

53 Derryhollagh Road, Randalstown, Antrim BT41 3HP
T: +44 (0)28 9447 2387