€3 MILLION INVESTMENT BY CELTIC PURE TO MEET DEMAND FOR BOTTLED WATER
There’s been a big demand for a County Monaghan brand of bottled spring water. So much so that the Celtic Pure company based at Corcreagh, Raferagh, near Carrickmacross is investing €3 milion to expand its production line in order to keep up with the increase in orders. Sales of the award-winning water increased by 38% last year, according to the Chief Executive Officer and company founder, Padraig McEneaney.
The natural spring water is sourced from an ancient spring 300 metres down and below the natural filtration beds of limestone rock that can be found in Ulster. The Celtic Pure plant was established in 2000 by Mr McEneaney and his wife Pauline on what used to be a beef farm on land that had been in his family’s possession for several generations. It expanded substantially in 2009, when an extension was opened by the then Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan. It now employs 42 people, the majority of whom come from the South Monaghan area.
Mr McEneaney went to Inver College in Carrickmacross and left school when he was 16 to work in meat factories. When consumers started to demand bottled water for drinking, he saw the potential in the natural spring well which supplied his family’s homestead. The spring water was tested for quality and from small beginnings, the business is now increasing for a second time.
The company has made a big impact on the ever-growing natural bottled water market and is able to supply all orders, no matter how large or small. Celtic Pure manufactures all its own bottles thus eliminating the risk of contamination associated with packaging transportation. It also reduces the company’s carbon footprint.
Operations Manager Tim Oliver took me through the process. He handed me what looked like a small test tube for science experiments or holding samples. He said it was a preform. It took me a while to realise that this type of plastic container was being transformed into a bottle for holding the water on the production line.
He pointed out the three production lines on the factory floor, two of which are constantly in use at any particular time during a 24-hour period. There are three shifts for the workers, each lasting eight hours. At the moment, the lines can handle 7,000 bottles an hour. Now with the installation of new equipment supplied by the German company Krone, the capacity will increase to 18,000 bottles an hour.
The new machine will be able to combine the process of making the plastic bottles from the performs with the bottling operation. Mr Oliver explained how the preHforms were heated in an oven up to a temperature of 120 degrees Centigrade and then placed in a metal mould, into which high pressure air is injected. The scientific process allows the bottling of the water to be done immediately after the bottles are made.
The bottling is carried out under very controlled conditions using state-of-the-art equipment. The spring water is monitored during the filling and capping process to prevent contamination from the environment. Each bottle is given a specific code that establishes the bottling line, date and time produced.
Packaging is also carefully controlled. Celtic Pure Ltd has won a number of medals for its still and sparkling water products awarded by the British Bottlers Institute. Earlier this month the company was named as a winner of the Manufacturer of the Year category at the Small Business Firms association awards 2015.