An enterprising Derry company is breathing new life into the traditional log cabin and has created 10 new jobs with advice and assistance from Invest Northern Ireland.
Oakgrove Cabins, based at Maydown Industrial Estate, is designing and manufacturing a new generation of log cabins and timber-framed homes targeted at the developing holiday home, caravan park and tourism markets throughout Ireland. The cabins, in addition, are proving popular for retirement parks and as second homes on farms.
Kevin Helferty, manager of Invest NI’s North West Local Office, says: "Oakgrove Cabins initially identified a business opportunity developing from the growthin tourism and especially from people seeking holiday homes in locations close to leisure amenities such as golf courses.
"We've helped the company to develop its manufacturing and marketing operations, and to expand its focus outside Northern Ireland and to other residential and commercial sectors including offices, showrooms and public buildings," he adds.
Oakgrove Cabins is a family-run business launched in 1999 by brothers Eamonn and Noel Flanagan. It is based on a business idea developed by Eamonn Flanagan during his time working on similar products in the US.
Noel Flanagan says: "We carried out some market research to assess the potential for timber-framed cabins in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. A positive response encouraged us to set up the business in Derry.Invest NI’s North West Local Office has been very supportive in terms of advice and finance for the development of the business.
"Business is growing strongly throughout Ireland because of the quality of our productsand service. Each of our cabins is built to the BS3632 quality standard for full-time occupation, is individually designed to the specifications of customers and features include a fully-fitted kitchen, bathroom and shower room.
"The cabins are proving popular because they are up to 40 per cent cheaper to build than traditional buildings and also have low heating and general running costs. Because of these features the cabins are increasingly attracting people wishing to live in them full-time. In addition, the cabins are easy to relocate," he adds.
Oakgrove Cabins currently employs 10 people full-time and is already exploring business opportunities in Great Britain.
“The market in Great Britain is very substantial but very competitive,” Mr Flanagan adds. “But we believe that we can compete successfully there because of the quality of our products. Most of our competitors employ mass production techniques. Our competitive edge will come from continuing to focus on thequality and attention to detail from hand manufacture by highly skilled craftsmen.”
The upmarket cabins are manufactured by hand using Scandinavian red wood timber and feature a pitched, lightweight metal tile roof, and mahogany double glazing windows and doors. It takes between three to eight weeks to manufacture a bespoke cabin and a further three days to construct on-site.
Oakgrove Cabins also offers customers an optional package that includes fitted bedroom furniture, wooden floors, tiling, verandas and natural tongue and groovesheeting inside to achieve an authentic log cabin effect.