EY Awards: Conack Construction founders named established entrepreneurs of the year

Limerick building and civil engineering contractor generated turnover of nearly €122m in 2021

Tom O’Connor and Kieran Cusack, co-founders and joint managing directors of Conack Construction, have been named best established entrepreneurs at the 25th annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year (EoY) awards held on Wednesday evening.

Mr O’Connor and Mr Cusack founded the Limerick-based building and civil engineering contractor in 2008 with “two jeeps and a trailer”, they told delegates at the EoY executive retreat in Austin, Texas in September.

Since then, Conack has grown to become one of the biggest construction companies in Munster, winning numerous public and private contracts in recent years. It employs 200 people.

Among other projects, the company is delivering the new 30,000 sq ft (3,053 sq m) manufacturing centre at the IDA Ireland business park in Castletroy, Co Limerick and the more than 110,000 sq ft (10,219 sq m) mixed-use scheme at 1 Bishop’s Square in Limerick City on behalf of local developer Rudi Butler.


Last year, Conack generated turnover of nearly €122 million, up 67 per cent on 2020 and accumulated profits of more than €11.9 million. Mr O’Connor and Mr Cusack expect revenues at the company to top €150 million this year and €250 million by 2025.

“I want to say thank you to both our wives,” Mr Cusack said in his acceptance speech. “Also our kids: Nicole, Conor, Kate, Elliot and Rory.” He also thanked his 90-year-old father, who was present at the ceremony.

“This network we’ve been introduced to is phenomenal,” Mr O’Connor said. “It’s phenomenal.

“I think we will now be recognised as a market leader. This is going to change who we are. Definitely,” Mr O’Connor said. Asked how they were going to celebrate, Mr O’Connor and Mr Cusack said: “All night.”

The theme of this year’s awards, held in the Powerscourt Hotel in Co Wicklow, was “changemakers”.

Social entrepreneur Mary Davis, chief executive of Special Olympics International, received a special recognition award at the event.

Other winners on the evening included Martin McKay, founder of ed-tech company Texthelp, who won overall EY Entrepreneur of the Year and best international entrepreneur; Fionn Lahart and Christoph Hennersberger, founders of medical tech company OneProjects, who won emerging entrepreneurs of the year; and Stephen Nolan, chief executive and founder of food data business Nutritics, who won the inaugural sustainability award at the ceremony.

The other finalists in the established category were Alan Browne, Korec; Andrew Lynas, Lynas Foodservices; Cathal Fay, Prepay Power; Harriet Dunne, ICE Comfort Slat Mats; Louis Copeland, Louis Copeland & Sons; Michelle Daly, P&G Cards; and Paul Stewart, MyBaggage.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times