The Generation Game

Samuel Kirk Builders Merchants has been supplying the building trade in Newtownabbey, Belfast and surrounding areas for 75 years.

When first founded by Mr Samuel Kirk in 1947, the demand for heavy building materials was great as builders and tradesmen got busy rebuilding post-WWII Northern Ireland. But, as the decades progressed, competition for business grew while margins began to shrink.

Daughter, Mrs Margaret Alderdice took over as Managing Director in the 1980s, and recognised the need to diversify and expand the product range for the survival and growth of the company. 

By constructing a large, new retail shop and timber shed and introducing products and materials for the burgeoning DIY market, Margaret successfully opened up new opportunities for Samuel Kirk Builders Merchants. The business began to thrive and expand, ensuring a healthy family firm for her sons to join.

Mr Kirk Alderdice, who joined as Director in 2006, said, “The business was struggling when Mum took it over. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, she had to really fight her corner to ensure it succeeded.

“She has been instrumental to the resilience and evolution of the company, and has been very graciously handing over the reins – for the past 20 years!”

Margaret’s pioneering spirit is evident in the youngest generation. Under Kirk’s tenure, Samuel Kirk became the first builders merchant in Ireland to start trading online. Future plans include the addition of a small concrete plant for collections – planning permitting.


For the full article on Samuel Kirk, please see NIBuilder issue 33-2: