By Suzanne Pender
A CO Carlow family business is celebrating the significant milestone of 50 years by still leading the way as the only Irish-made electric fencing company. Cheetah Electronics Ltd, based in Sragh, Ballon, marks its five decades with a significant business milestone with its expansion to the Northern Ireland market.
Cheetah Electric Fencing began in Co Carlow from humble beginnings in a small caravan in 1973, the brainchild of founder Jim George. Although the starting point was modest, Jim, who was working for the ESB as an electrician at the time, had bigger plans for his small start-up company.
Coming from an agricultural background himself, Jim spotted a demand and a gap in the market for high-powered electric fences to contain livestock. As there were no Irish-made fences on the market that could provide rapid repairs and servicing, if required, he sought to fill that gap with his establishment of Cheetah. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to today and Jim has passed over the reins to his son Padraic, though he still maintains a strong interest and influence within the company and the business has expanded immeasurably. The caravan soon became the attic in their home, and Padraic says the fences ticking in the attic became a prominent sound in his childhood.
Soon after this, production demands meant that Jim had to expand again – this time to a barnyard in rural Carlow. The barnyard still exists today, but has now doubled in size.
The workforce, which started as two, retains a core staff of ten, but this figure significantly increases in the summer months as production demands soar.
To this day, Cheetah are the only Irish-made electric fences on the market and their products have the capacity to service up to 100 acres of land.
“We are immensely proud of the reputation that we have built over the last 50 years; we have always placed a huge emphasis on the reliability of our products and building trust in our brand, and we will always put this to the forefront of our business,” said Padraic.
“As we’re the only Irish-made fences, we can respond quickly to back-up calls for assistance, repairs or maintenance of our products and this has also been a huge plus for us.
“We’re extremely grateful for the support we have received from families and communities all across Ireland for placing their trust in us, which has helped us to further grow and develop Cheetah across Ireland,” he added.
Cheetah has also spent decades embedding itself in the heart of the local community and it’s a role the company has embraced with pride. In addition to its products and services, which serve those in the local community, Cheetah has also provided significant employment across Carlow and surrounding areas to hundreds of students over the years – from transition year students to college students, who have continued to return through the years for seasonal work in the summer months.
In 2023, the company has further expansion in its sights, as it is set to establish its first office location in Northern Ireland, with further ambitions to gradually expand into the UK market.
“We will be opening our first Northern Irish office this year and we are hopeful that it will be a success; there is a market and a demand that we believe that Cheetah can fill and we’re very excited to keep growing and expanding Cheetah all across Ireland,” said Padraic.
“We would like to eventually progress this further to the UK market, too. The last 50 years has seen us continue to grow and expand using the same ethos that we always have and we will always continue to prioritise the quality of our product and rapidly responding to calls for assistance.
“We’re very excited about the newest challenge we face – growing the brand and building the same relationships with new customers in different markets this year,” concluded Padraic.