Declan Hughes, Director, European Business Development at Gray, talks to ICIM about the importance of offering a diversified range of services and why he’s excited for the future 

Declan Hughes, Director, European Business Development

How is business at Gray?

Gray is a global, fully integrated service provider specialising in engineering, design, construction, digital, equipment manufacturing and real estate services across several markets including food & beverage, manufacturing, automotive, distribution, mission critical and commercial. Across our industries, we’re seeing strong growth as our customers embark on new capital investments to meet market demand. Specifically, this demand is driving significant growth in the food & beverage, general manufacturing and electric vehicle (EV) market segments. Gray’s recent growth in smart manufacturing, digital transformation and equipment manufacturing capabilities strengthens our overall offering for a fully integrated turnkey delivery model.

Where do you think the most significant growth will occur for the business in the next few years?
From Ireland and Europe to North America, we see continued strong growth in food & beverage, including the distilling sector, manufacturing, automotive with electric vehicles (EV) and biotech/pharma. Our experience in North America pushed our customers to partner with us beyond these borders. Our team is more than equipped and positioned to meet customer needs wherever they are.

What’s your opinion on the Irish market at the moment?
The Irish market remains strong with customers continuing to roll out capital plans. Our pipeline is robust, with many current and future opportunities across the markets we serve. For us, the Covid impact was largely felt in two areas – personnel and supply chain. The personnel issues are largely over with a full return to sites in most cases. The worst impacts of Covid are hopefully in the rear-view mirror, but some customers still restrict non-essential visits to site whenever numbers spike.

Due to the ramp-up after the pandemic, availability of materials along with price escalations exist, particularly with equipment and specialty materials. The issues have been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. We are seeing escalation in materials such as stainless steel, longer lead times on delivery and changing terms and conditions, with larger down payments needed on order placements.

What projects are you currently working on?
In Ireland, we’re working on several projects spanning greenfield, brownfield, refurbishment and general upgrades across dairy, plastics’ recycling, distilling and automotive.

In the US, we have projects across our core markets ranging from twin battery manufacturing facilities that will support the future of Ford Motor Company’s electric vehicle (EV) line-up and a large-scale expansion project including design-build, speciality process engineering and automation & controls integration for T. Marzetti, to a new gypsum wallboard manufacturing facility for Georgia-Pacific and multiple fulfilment centres for an e-commerce giant.


What key projects best demonstrate Gray’s capabilities?
Since 1960 when Gray was established, teams within the company have continued to sharpen and innovate services and capabilities. Many projects, from Toyota and Siemens to Diageo and Champion Petfoods, have marked pivotal moments in Gray’s growth as an organisation. Today, projects have become much more complex.

Projects that illustrate Gray’s full breadth of experience covering traditional engineering, design and construction plus processing, automating, packaging and machining – the practise when all these areas come together to ensure that customer operations are safe and efficient – this is where Gray shines. At the core of this process is our problem-solving approach. One example of this ability is the recently completed beverage concentrate facility in Kildare. Other examples include multiple pet food operations throughout North America along with distilleries and food processing facilities executed through turnkey deliveries.



Denise Maguire   Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine