Belfast Telegraph

Nortel successor a true phoenix from the flames

Jack Brennan reports on how a Mallusk company has flourished in the years following the demise of the telecommunications giant

When telecommunications manufacturing giant Nortel went in to administration and subsequent liquidation in 2009, thousands of jobs were lost worldwide. In Northern Ireland over 200 of the company's employees became unemployed at the firm's Monkstown facility.

However, rising from the ashes of Nortel came a new company which has become a success story in the three years in which it has been operating.

CMASS was set up in 2010 after the team had spent two decades building up experience with Nortel's global manufacturing and system integrations service.

The company, which is now housed in an 18,500sq ft site in Mallusk and a wholly owned subsidiary of Ireland Freight Services, currently has 23 former Nortel and Avaya employees who have decades of experience in the Telecoms industry.

The manufacturing team was first established in 2002 as part of the Nortel initiative to create a global integration service for customers out of the Monkstown site.

Seven years later the Nortel employees transferred to Avaya in 2009 as part of its purchase of Nortel's Enterprise business.

The company is currently made up of two directors as well as six senior team members, with roles ranging from account manager to senior engineers, as well as operators and production staff.

It seeks to deliver excellent integration, software and services which make the delivery and maintenance of complex solutions easy, fast, and cost-effective.

For example, the build of a telephone switch or control panel and integration of software specifically for end-users.

CMASS also builds cable looms for customers to feed in to their bigger products, and provides a software duplication service for customers, loading discs, USBs and dongles with keycodes and software updates on a daily basis.

However CMASS has not restricted itself to manufacturing telecoms hardware. While the company continues to manufacture and integrate telecoms hardware and software, it is also seeking to develop a larger, more varied customer portfolio. This includes branching and diversifying in to new sectors including power, defence and aerospace industries.

The company currently manufactures for global and local customers, dispatching to Europe, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and North America as well as in Northern Ireland. CMASS looks for companies who have new or existing products that require complex build and integration in medium-low volumes.

Some of CMASS' customers build and manufacture their own designs, while others focus on their R&D and design, and use CMASS as their manufacturing partner.

Despite the recession, which has hit hundreds of businesses in Northern Ireland hard, CMASS has emerged from the downturn relatively unscathed and reporting a strong revenue growth this year. The company's managing director Barry Mulhern (below), said that crucially, CMASS was able to retain its customers throughout the downturn.

He said: "I would be surprised many organisations have not been adversely impacted by the current global recession. Thankfully in Northern Ireland we are beginning to see a level of recovery, albeit somewhat fragile at the moment.

"CMASS has a global customer base and although we did see a slight reduction in overall demand, experiencing significantly greater levels of competition, we managed to retain all of our customers throughout the downturn. One reason for our success is our tight control over costs and spend, both within the company and throughout our supply chain, hence allowing us to remain competitive."

The company has also recently achieved certification to ISO001:2008 for the provision of outsourced manufacturing services. Mr Mulhern said that he was "immensely proud" of the achievement.

He said: "Being ISO9001:2008 certified will help strengthen our position as a local provider of manufacturing solutions, helping global customers overcome production challenges.

"We are immensely proud that our commitment to a process-driven operation and quality management system has been formally recognised."

The diversification of CMASS in to the power and defence sectors is said to be giving its employees much more varied experience, which the company said is helping to grow its customer base.

It's also winning new work from existing clients locally and globally, including cable loom assemblies and some new product introduction project work.

CMASS has also been awarded a 'significant' assembly contract by a new division of an existing multi-national client. The deal is particularly pleasing for the Mallusk company, as it has won the contract against competition from a large global competitor with dozens of facilities worldwide.

Belfast Telegraph

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.