Powerhouse Dungannon firm crushing it all over the world

Powescreen staff at an industry event in the US
Powescreen staff at an industry event in the US

From humble beginnings in a shed outside Coalisland, Powerscreen-Terex is now one of the world’s biggest names in crushing and screening machines.

So much so, that the Mid Ulster born company’s marketing manager Dearbhaile Mulholland said a Northern Irish accent is never out of earshot at some of the industry’s biggest worldwide conferences.

A Powerscreen machine was used to crush one ton of elephant ivory

A Powerscreen machine was used to crush one ton of elephant ivory

“In every corner of the world there are Northern Ireland accented people talking crushing and screening,” she told the Mail during a behind-the-scenes visit of the firm’s Dungannon facility, “and they are like an extension of the success of Powerscreen.

“It’s funny when you go to those places, even guys who sell our machines in the states have a Tyrone-California twang.”

But she said the majority of them started here 40 years ago - testament to the global opportunities on offer.

In Northern Ireland, where the company has retained and tended its strong roots - even when bought over by US based Terex, she said: “They find that the staff are very skilled and very efficient.

Powescreen-Terex near Dungannon employs 650 staff in various roles

Powescreen-Terex near Dungannon employs 650 staff in various roles

“They just see Northern Ireland as a great place to have their business, and that looks set to improve in the next few years.”

The firm now employs 650 people in Dungannon, 550 in Omagh and hundreds more between Ballymoney, Lurgan “which is like centralised services not just for Powerscreen, but for Terex globally” and across the globe, while Terex employs 22,000 worldwide.

Some staff, she added, have been with the firm since the beginning.

“So many people who work for Powerscreen were involved in the set up, so they have been involved in Powerscreen all their working lives,” Dearbhaile went on.

Powerscreen legends who left school, came to Powerscreen and helped make it one of the leading brands in the crushing and screening industry today

Powerscreen legends who left school, came to Powerscreen and helped make it one of the leading brands in the crushing and screening industry today

“The longest serving person we have is 49 years - he’s still here to this day - which is incredible.

“There are maybe 50 people who have been here longer than 35 years.”

She went on to say the company takes the safety of those staff very seriously.

It has recently run competitions with local schools - to design health and safety posters which are displayed around the facility.

The Mid Ulster-based companys Warrior 600 screen at a launch in France

The Mid Ulster-based companys Warrior 600 screen at a launch in France

Even if a person hurts their finger, she said the incident is logged.

But it has been around two years since a staff member had to take the following day off work.

And always looking to the future, she said the firm is “always trying to make our machines more fuel efficient, better for the environment”.

“We don’t just try and make our machines more environmentally friendly, but we try to design ones that can be used in recycling applications.”

COMPANY HELPS DESTROY BANNED IVORY IN TIMES SQUARE, NEW YORK

Although traditionally associated with industries such as mining and quarrying, Powerscreen’s machines have been used on projects ranging from the crushing of illicit ivory to cleaning sand on beaches impacted by oil spills.

Hugh Brennan (Technical Support Manager Powersreen International ) Alistair Booth Curriculum Manager South West College) Martin Carberry (Lecturer South West College) and Ciaran McManus (Deputy Head of Department Training at South West College)
 
Photo Oliver Corr

Hugh Brennan (Technical Support Manager Powersreen International ) Alistair Booth Curriculum Manager South West College) Martin Carberry (Lecturer South West College) and Ciaran McManus (Deputy Head of Department Training at South West College) Photo Oliver Corr

They are also used to repurpose waste from demolished buildings which is then used to build roads and hospitals.

“Our machines allow people to take a material and crunch it up and sell it on, rather than it just being chucked,” Dearbhaile said.

“It’s used in the construction of roads, hospitals - so we try to be involved in recycling projects.”

In 2015 Powerscreen-Terex set up one of their mobile machines in New York’s Times Square, where around one ton of poached elephant ivory was crushed in front of thousands.

The aim was to send a message that the illegal ivory trade will not be tolerated.

“Not many people know about our involvement in things like that,” said marketing manager Dearbhaile Mulholland.

The ivory, which likely came from poachers in Africa - where the population of elephants has halved since 1989 - was confiscated in New York and Philadelphia.

The crowd watched as it rolled up a conveyor belt on Powerscreen’s rock crushing machine, before being ground into a fine powder.

Elsewhere stateside, the company’s designs were also used to help clean up what was dubbed the ‘worst environmental disaster’ in US history, whenthey filtered sand on beaches covered in oil after BP’s Deep Water Horizon rig spilled 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days.

It was estimated that around 16,000 miles of coastline were affected across the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

50TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS

powerscreen celebrated its 50th birthday last year.

And at that event - which attracted global dealers - they held an auction for a miniature golden replica of the company’s first machine. Winner Pat McGeary, beat off the competition to take the sculpture back to Cheshire for the princely sum of £36,000.

That money will be used over six years to give their gold apprentices bonuses of £1,000.

The route to that apprenticeship requires seven GCSEs at grade C or above, and Derbhaile said competition is stiff as it grows ever more popular - but that the opportunities are great.

Those who make a success of it, could be joining Powerscreen dealers in far-flung outlets across the globe.

“We had our 50th anniversary in 2016,” said Dearbhaile.

“The company was founded in 1966 by Lee Mallaghan and Pat O’Neill. They were tinkering around with engineering and came up with this idea.

“It grew legs, and they built a couple of them, and found they had a niche. We began just outside Coalisland and then moved up the road into this facility.

“So many people who work for Powerscreen have been involved all their working lives.”