THREE Clare companies are among the first businesses in the country to achieve a new quality mark signifying that they meet the highest standards of service and trust.

Shannon-based industrial equipment supplier Advanced Technical Concepts, Ennis company Rathú, which provides professional development for teachers and Shannon Heritage have been awarded the coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation.

This is an independently verified standard mark for indigenous businesses, based on rigorous selection criteria.

Speaking to The Clare People after receiving the award at a special ceremony in Croke Park, Shannon Heritage managing director, Niall O’Callaghan expressed his delight following a very successful year for Shannon Group’s tourism experience company.

“We believe that the Business All-Star accreditation is going to be a true quality mark for our business,” he said.

“As a company, we are very focused on setting standards, but those standards need to be constantly measured. 

“We have been looking for something like this – an accreditation process which is tough, externally verified and allows us to constantly measure our performance. 

“Securing the accreditation is a reflection of our fantastic staff and a testament to the work and effort they put in everyday, to create memorable experiences for our 900,000 visitors a year,” added Mr O’Callaghan

The accreditation is overseen by the All-Ireland Business Foundation, whose adjudication panel is chaired by Dr Briga Hynes of the Kemmy Business School at the University of Limerick and Kieran Ring, CEO of the Global Institute of Logistics.

Dr Hynes said the accreditation, which is now held by 200 firms, is needed by the thousands of small and medium businesses out there who operate to their own standards, but have nothing to measure them by.

“It provides very important credible and transparent benchmarking that hasn’t been available up to now, allowing companies to very clearly understand where they are versus their competitors,” she said.

“We evaluate a company’s background, trustworthiness and performance, and we speak to customers, employees and vendors.

“We also anonymously approach the company as a customer and report back on the experience.

“The business goes through at least two interviews and is scored on every part of the process against set metrics.

“Internally, this process gives confidence to the organisation, allows them to leverage their advantages and identify areas that they need to improve in, particularly in innovation and product development.”

At a Croke Park presentation event, Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business, Pat Breen (FG), said the commitment to quality of the small to medium enterprise sector was critical to the Irish economy.

“Ireland has the fastest growing economy in Europe and one of the fastest rates of business start-ups,” said Minister Breen.

“Small to medium enterprises make up 99 per cent of Irish businesses and their importance to the Irish economy can never be understated.

“I am very proud of all the businesses here today, their commitment to quality, as evidenced by gaining coveted All-Ireland Business All-Star accreditation, will ensure Irish SMEs continue to grow.”

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