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Top 100 profile: Balcas

The company comes in number 76 on this year’s Top 100 list with a turnover of around £97m


Brian Murphy, Balcas. Pic Elaine Hill

Brian Murphy, Balcas. Pic Elaine Hill

Brian Murphy, Balcas. Pic Elaine Hill

Co Fermanagh’s Balcas is a company which goes about its business with a strong focus on doing things with a green touch and a direct contact to nature, on a daily basis.

The business is dedicated to the sustainable use of timber in a range of products, including in renewable heat generation.

The company comes in number 76 on this year’s Top 100 list with a turnover of around £97m. And the firm looks set to crack £108m in turnover for the next year of accounts.

Balcas has a direct workforce of around 380, and a further 300 or so indirectly. Brian Murphy is at the helm of the firm – pictured in a forest not far from the company’s Enniskillen base.

“Balcas is committed to the long term future of our community and our employees as well as our shareholders,” Brian says.

“Raw materials are the commercial and sustainable forest crop of Ireland and Britain. Everything we use is being replaced and the annual forest crop from the island of Ireland is expected to double over the coming 15 years.

“Modern forestry industry supports climate change objectives; nature conservancy and bio diversity; and society through leisure resource and jobs. Many lessons have been learned over the past 60 years that permit all of these objectives to be balanced.

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“Timber as a construction material has a carbon footprint that is a fraction of more traditional methods used in these islands.”

Balcas has also invested around £100m in its factories in the British Isles since turn of century.

“The manufacturing facilities are world class. Optical scanning, computers, and robotics are providing continuous opportunity for improvement,” Brian says.

The firm also emphasises its commitment to tackling climate change, in how it operates and does business.

“A very small recent change has seen our forklift fleet of 14 formerly diesel trucks (each runs two shifts a day) changed over to being fuelled by BioLPG. The trucks were manufactured by Hyster Yale in Portadown,” Brian says.

“They are serviced by Briggs of Lisburn. The biofuel is provided by Calor NI. It’s a modest saving of 120,000 litres annually of diesel – it’s a nice local industrial story.”

“Balcas wood pellets provide carbon neutral heat to hospitals, care homes, government institutions, major supermarket chains, farms, schools, colleges and domestic homes.

“Since we began making wood pellets we have displaced the oil equivalent of three very large crude carriers from the UK – more than six million barrels.”

The firm’s sawmills in Enniskillen and combined plants in Enniskillen and Invergordon in Scotland are energy efficient and self sufficient.

It has a 72 acre site in Enniskillen, with an annual capacity of 268,000 cubic metres of sawn timber, while its Invergordon base includes a 34MW boiler alongside a pellet plant producing 100,000 tonnes of pellets each year and 8.6MW of electricity.

Balcas Timber makes a wide range of durable and environmentally responsible timber products for the domestic and agricultural markets

Its product range includes kiln-dried graded structural timber, unseasoned and preservative pre-treated fencing timbers, pallet wood components, and sleepers – increasingly being used for landscaping projects.