DIAMONDS are forever!

Paul Diamond, managing director, Diamond Corrugated, Pennyburn Industrial Estate, Derry. 0105JM50
Paul Diamond, managing director, Diamond Corrugated, Pennyburn Industrial Estate, Derry. 0105JM50

Diamond Corrugated, one of the biggest business success stories of recent years, is gearing up for even more growth thanks to ongoing investment and additional jobs at its sites in Pennyburn and Campsie. This week, SEAN McLAUGHLIN spoke to Managing Director Paul Diamond and Operations Director, Maureen McLaughlin, to find out the secret behind a 40-year-old success story.

Whether dealing with Xerox or Invista, Du Pont or Abbott Laboratories, second-to-none customer care, says Mr. Diamond, has been key to his business becoming one of the top players in the design and manufacture of bespoke corrugated packaging in Ireland.

Diamond Corrugated’s clients encompass a diverse range of sectors - food and drink, electronics, light engineering and healthcare - and it has its eyes firmly fixed on growing its portfolio.

With diversification as a watchword, Paul Diamond knows that the ability to adapt to business changes - particularly in an ever-demanding economic climate - is crucial to long-term success.

“Our investment in leading edge equipment and the ongoing development of our staff has allowed us to broaden our production processes, increase our overall competitiveness and to position ourselves to be more attractive to a potential new market in this increasingly demanding economy,” he said.

“We are currently producing more than 25 million boxes per year and our objective is to add an additional forty per cent within the next three years.”

The firm’s Operations Director Maureen McLaughlin says an integral element of the Diamond success story has been its employees.

“In what is a highly competitive sector, we have to - excuse the pun - ‘box’ above our weight and, to be honest, the only thing we have, as a company sitting here in Pennyburn, that differentiates us from the others is a team of people who are highly skilled, highly motivated, fiercely loyal and dedicated to providing our customers with a level of personal service that is second to none. This - allied to Paul’s drive and vision - is at the heart of our business success.”

Now celebrating 40 years in business, the company’s Pennyburn plant this week hosted a visit by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who saw at first hand the fruits of a new £3.4 million investment.

Thanks to this boost - assisted by Invest Northern Ireland (INI) - the company’s workforce now stands at 60 full-time staff - no mean feat in the world of bespoke corrugated packaging.

Peter Robinson hailed Diamond Corrugated as an “excellent example of a business that has reinvented itself on a number of occasions to remain at the leading edge” of business.

Martin McGuinness paid tribute to the firm’s “long-standing commitment to the city” and its “continuous investment in people and production processes.”

The history of the Diamond family business reaches back to the 1920s when Paul Diamond’s grandfather first started making wooden boxes - to store fruit & veg, eggs, etc., - in premises at Orchard Street.

Paul’s father, Gerard, joined the business in the 1950s and quickly diversified into manufacturing boxes for the city’s then vibrant shirt industry.

It was in 1973 that Gerard Diamond formed the limited company now headed by his son, Paul, and which also includes a fourth generation of the family - Niall, Paul’s son, who is the firm’s Operations Manager.

“We take great pride in the fact that, as a family-owned business, we employ 60 people in what is, after all, a capital intensive industry,” says Paul Diamond. “Even the recognised giants of the sector will, perhaps, only employ 150 people - it’s all machinery.

“That’s why we are fiercely proud of the small community or large family - call it what you will - which we have here. Many of our staff have been with us for more than 30 years and, as the business has grown and developed, so have they. It’s a family business in more ways than one.”

Maureen McLaughlin believes the company’s “dynamism and ability to respond quickly to changing situations” has been vital to its ongoing achievements.

“We’re always up to speed with what’s happening - whether that’s with our customers, our competitors or in the market in general,” she says.

“Yes, there is planning, short-term and long-term, and strategy - which are key to any successful business - but we’re also nimble and dynamic and, when required, we can move very quickly indeed.”

Paul Diamond says its gratifying to see how his family business has grown over the past forty years - but, ever the business man, he’s not prepared to rest on his laurels.

“In business, now, more than ever, there is a requirement to continuously improve and ensure that you remain at the top of your game.

“I take great pride in our professionalism and determination to achieve excellence in all that we do. Our success is down to the team that we have here and I’m determined to continue and expand on that success.”