As a keen sailor who competed at world championship level, it was no surprise that when Corkonian Charles Dywer decided to start an environmental company water would feature heavily.
“Lowflo was established in 2007 to provide water control and leak detection services to water consumers across Ireland,” he explains.
“I had already identified the environmental industry as a rapidly growing sector and when water metering was introduced across Ireland in the commercial sector, I saw an opportunity for Lowflo to assist businesses in reducing their water consumption.”
In fact, this was not the first time the Cork entrepreneur had dipped his toe into business set-up. After coming home from travelling in Australia, Dwyer had started an event photography business called Stooge Inc aged just 24.
Now 31, Dwyer has already picked up the Tim Sexton Memorial Prize from his alma mater Cork Institute of Technology for outstanding achievement by a post-graduate for his success with Lowflo.
He is assisted by his business partner Peter Crowley of Dynorod Ireland.
“Peter is an experienced entrepreneur and has a great track record with getting businesses up and running. Initially I was both manager and sole operator in the business but we’ve now grown to employ five people who work out of our Cork and Dublin offices and provide nationwide coverage.”
Customers include the Health Service Executive, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Hewlett-Packard, The Office of Public Works, Cadbury, Diageo, IBM, Irish Rail, county councils nationwide and Bord Failte.
Lowflo was nominated in the Outstanding Business category in the SFA National Small Business Awards based on the company’s measurable results. “For example, in two large hospital sites we helped to reduce water bills by around 65pc along with preventing damage to medical equipment and infrastructure.”
He also cites pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline as a success story. “It had contracted other leak detection companies to source water wastage throughout its networks without success before turning to Lowflo. We completed the contract successfully and saved GSK in excess of €250,000 a year,” Dwyer explains.
Lowflo has also achieved international success, having completed projects in both Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Since its inception, turnover has increased year on year at a steady rate. Although Dwyer admits that not everything he tried has been successful, he says it has all been a positive learning curve. “Last year, we introduced some new products and services that were unsuccessful, so turnover was reduced and this affected the accounts negatively. But I consider this a good investment because a lot was learnt through this experience and will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the business going forward.
“Over next three years, we plan to bring the turnover up to €2m through expansion into Northern Ireland and continued growth in the Republic and the Middle East.”