Timbertrove challenged and beat two recessions
Conor, Ciara, Henry, Shirley, and Danielle, a family that navigated a challenging period

Timbertrove challenged and beat two recessions

SOME businesses make changes to survive, and then there is Timbertrove – an award-winning family-run enterprise that has introduced many innovations to navigate challenging periods that very nearly brought it all tumbling down.

Located at the foot of the Dublin mountains in Kilakee, near The Hell Fire Club, Timbertrove was founded in 1986 by Henry & Shirley O’Kelly, and evolved from a timber-based business to one that incorporates a popular country store and café.

The recession in 2008 saw the sinking of the construction industry, and sales collapse, as many of their customers purchasing timber products worked in the industry, and Timbertrove had a number of contracts for large-scale projects that were no more.

“For Timbertrove it was like the lights were switched off overnight – sheds and fencing were not a priority in a recession,” said Shirley O’Kelly MIMI, Director/Financial Controller, Timbertove Country Store & Café.

“This was extremely tough being married with three young children and living beside the business, there was no getting away from it.”

Located in a scenic area at the foothills of the Dublin mountains, in 2012, the O’Kelly’s saw an opportunity to attract walkers and cyclists visiting the nearby Hellfire Club and Massy’s Wood, by opening a country store and café.

This has gained a reputation over the past ten years for its “home baking in the heart of the Dublin Mountains.”

“The Timbertrove scones are a big hit with the customers,” acknowledges Shirley

Ultimately this element helped to pull the business through.

All of this and more is contained in a book ‘The Story of Timbertrove’ launched last month by Shirley, documenting the trials and tribulations of running a business, peppered with nuggets of wisdom.

“I wanted to share our experience of how we followed our dream in setting up and running a successful business, while achieving our goals along the way,” said Ms O’Reilly.

“It’s a story of how we overcame the insurance crisis and two recessions – though the last one almost cost us everything.”

In the book, Shirley discusses the challenges, setbacks, highs and lows over the years and how they managed to survive.

Covid saw them set up a ‘click and collect’ service and contactless deliveries to keep staff and customers safe.

They also installed outdoor seating in the garden sheds and a set up indoor seating with heaters in the barn

“Covid brought us a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-evaluate the business, make changes and improvements and come back stronger,” said Shirley.

“However, we were faced with some serious challenges, mainly several price increases in timber and materials. Shortages in ingredients which led to price increases particularly take away packaging and PPE, not to mention the inflation in fuel, electricity, and various other overheads.

“Unfortunately, I think the next few months are going to be tough with continued inflation. However, for myself and Henry we will be staying positive.

“We have proved over the past 35 years how we’re prepared to be innovative and adapt to climate changes,” she said.

The story of Timbertrove by Shirley O’Kelly, published by Oak Tree Press, is available in book stores and from SuccessStore.com, priced at €18.95.

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