Donegal firm wins €3m telcoms component contract


19 Jul 2004

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A niche manufacturer in the Donegal Gaeltacht has beaten off Asian and Chinese rivals to win a three-year €3m manufacturing contract from Dublin-based Sigma Wireless Group.

Wiss Medi Teo, an Udaras na Gaeltachta backed company, produces interconnect cable – high-value components that unite various parts of sophisticated technology devices.

Wiss Medi, which has 15 employees, expects to double its headcount over the next 12 months thanks to the Sigma deal.

Sigma Wireless makes mobile phone network antennaes and is an approved supplier to all of the world major mobile phone networks. Wiss Medi is expected to benefit as an approved producer to Sigma which will help to open up further international contract manufacturing opportunities.

Seamus Mulligan, operations director of Wiss Medi, said the company’s success shows that Irish companies can succeed in the global manufacturing sector provided they have the right strategy. “We produce sophisticated high-value products where the materials-to-labour ratio is very high. In other words, our labour input costs are low in the total mix. In these areas Irish manufacturers can be winners because our higher labour costs do not price us out of the market. But we need more innovative Irish customers like the Sigma Wireless Group. The more they invest in R&D and develop more high value products here the more they will need and be able to source quality inputs locally.”

Sigma Wireless Group general manager Michael McGinley said that local manufacturers like Wiss Medi, which can meet demanding world class standards in the high value interconnect market, can compete and offer faster delivery and turnaround given their location.

“This contract shows how important Irish R&D success stories can be in creating spin-off opportunities in the local economy. It is especially satisfying for us that we can source some part of our high-value inputs from a local Irish manufacturer in the Donegal Gaeltacht instead of from India or China. Wiss has also shown that Irish manufacturers anywhere are capable of delivering to world class standards and compete against the best in the world and win.”

Wiss Medi was founded in October 2002 to service the local demands for sub-contact work from leading Irish and international manufacturers. It was the announcement by several of the cable assembly companies in Ireland to either close their facilities or transfer their manufacturing operations to low cost regions that led to the creation of the company.

“It was felt that while Ireland no longer held a competitive edge on labour intensive projects, opportunities existed for products which required fast turnaround where the material content represented a high percentage of the final cost – that is, more service orientated manufacturing,” said Mulligan.

Sigma Wireless Group, which employs more than 400 people at its Finglas headquarters, recently announced an additional 60 new jobs following its R&D success in developing a new range of advanced antenna.

By Brian Skelly