Ireland INC Index: Top Irish Industrial and Construction firms operating and investing in the US

By Business & Finance
26 November 2018

The Ireland INC Index lists the top Irish companies operating and investing in the US. This week we take a look at the Industrial and Construction companies on the Index.


Worldwide Actavo has 6,000 employees in 100 locations, with their move into the Caribbean, laying fibre for Digicel, bringing the company closer to the US, and the US into their line of vision. Actavo USA has since worked with 6 million homes and businesses with over 60,000 miles of fibre optic cable installed coast to coast.


The Cavan-based precision engineering toolmaker operates in 60 markets, with a network of over 1,400 distributors and manufacturing centres in Ireland, the UK and the US. The business has been built up over 50 years, serving aerospace, automotive, oil and gas markets, shipbuilding and metal fabrication. Former Smurfit executive Peter Cosgrove led an acquisition of the company in 2008, seeing its potential for growth.

The acquisition of its biggest competitor SGS Tool (Cleveland, Ohio) in December 2012 put the company into a world leadership position and it now employs over 200 people worldwide.


Mayo company Big Red Barn began life providing a sturdier alternative to marquees for events, before moving into modular homes solutions.

In 2018 Big Red Barn entered into a public private partnership with the City of Warwick Housing Authority which will fund a pilot building on a site in Warwick, supplying a modular home for a low income family, to demonstrate the ability to provide cost-effective housing for the city.

CRH (Oldcastle)

Employees in the US: 40,000

Oldcastle is the North American arm of CRH plc., one of the world’s leading building products and materials companies based in Dublin, Ireland. It is the largest building materials company in North America with more than 1,700 operations in 50 US states and 6 Canadian provinces.

CRH’s Americas Material business has operations in 43 states, whilst its Americas Products business is in 38 states across the US. In 2017, its US businesses generated €14.64 billion in revenues, or 52% of group revenues.

CRH plc was formed through a merger in 1970 of two leading Irish public companies, Cement Limited (established in 1936) and Roadstone, Limited (1949). Group Chief Executive Albert Manifold has been leading the business since January 2014, after joining in 1998 as Finance Director for CRH’s Europe Materials division where he helped to build CRH’s position in Eastern Europe.

Today, CRH is one of the world’s leading building materials companies, with a business that spans 32 countries and which serves all segments of construction industry demand. CRH subsidiary companies employ over 85,000 people at around 3,600 locations around the world and generated sales of €27.6 billion in 2017.

In 1978 CRH made its first move into the United States with the acquisition of Amcor, a concrete products company based in Utah. The foundation of what is now the Americas Materials Division commenced in 1985 with the acquisition of Callanan Industries, an aggregates and asphalt company in Upstate New York.

The 1990s saw the establishment of a new growth area for the Americas Materials Division with the acquisition of Staker, a major quarry and blacktop business in Utah and the mountain states.

In 1996 the purchase of Tilcon for $323 million was CRH’s largest acquisition at that time, establishing a unique regional position in materials in the Northeastern US. The acquisition of Allied Building Products gave CRH a fifth core business in the US and a first presence in distribution.

The acquisition in 2006 of Ashland Paving And Construction (APAC) for US$1.1 billion (net of disposals), was then the largest single transaction completed by the Group and APAC brought into the fold 9,700 employees, across 93 aggregate production facilities spread over 14 Southern and Midwestern states. In September last year CRH confirmed the acquisition of Ash Grove cement business would go ahead, paying $3.5bn for the fifth-largest US cement manufacturer with eight cement plants across eight US states.

A Fortune 500 company, CRH is a constituent member of the FTSE 100 index, the EURO STOXX 50 index, the ISEQ 20 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Europe. CRH’s American Depositary Shares are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).


Employees in the US: 30

Blanchardstown-based Designer Group has 30 people involved in Engineering, Procurement and Construction in the US, currently building 160MW of Biomass plants and working for large Industrial customers like Arcelor Mittal. Expected turnover for 2018 is €30m (out of an expected global turnover of €200m) and US headcount is expected to grow to 50 by year end.

Former MITIE Group boss Padraig Byrne  moved to the States late last year, after the acquisition of Kansas and Missouri-based energy-consultancy business PPS, to run Designer Group’s new US operation.


With offices in Boston, Phoenix, Cary and Albany (the heart of New York’s Tech Valley) DPS Engineering offer specialised architectural, engineering and construction services to the advanced technology, process chemical, industrial and life sciences sectors. They work with semiconductor, solar, nanotechnology, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and process industry clients throughout the US.


Employees in the US: 500

Taking part in the Irish delegation, led by US Embassy Charge d’Affaire Reece Smyth, to the 2018 SelectUSA Summit, was hugely successful for Irish homebuilder Entekra, as they signed a deal with a $4.75 million tax credit from the State of California to build a fully-integrated off-site solution (FIOSS™ ) factory in Modesto, CA. The fully automated, high-speed facility will be operational by May 2019, employ 250 people and deliver 3,000 homes a year. Enter also announced the opening of a second factory in Southern California in 2020, which will employ a further 250 staff.


Employees in the US: 1,800

Kingspan, the leading global manufacturer of insulation panels for the construction industry, was founded as a small family construction business over 40 years ago.

With a relatively low level of penetration of insulated panels in the US market, there is huge opportunity for growth as reduction of carbon footprint has become a pressing issue and to this end, Kingspan, under CEO Gene Murtagh, have invested in organic growth and acquisitions in the US market, bringing their employee numbers up to 1,800.

The Americas represented 20% of Kingspan’s business in 2017, in a record period for the group in which revenue rose by 18.0% to €3.7bn, and trading profit grew by 10.7% to €377.5m. High profile projects in 2017 included facades on the Nike headquarters in Oregon and an Aloft Hotel in Texas.


Linesight provides professional services and strategic support to the global construction industry, with bases in New York on the East Coast and San Francisco on the West Coast, and has worked on high profile projects including the cost management of the renovation and redevelopment of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.


Employees in the US: 172

LotusWorks are engineering and technical service experts who, for almost 30 years, have been working with some of the world’s leading manufacturers. Founded in Sligo in 1989, LotusWorks entered the US market in 2000 and opened the Massachusetts office in 2001.

In 2006, Lotus Group USA opened in Washington. Today, LotusWorks teams support major clients on large construction projects at their facilities in 13 states across the US, and North American operations are based out of Massachusetts and Washington. LotusWorks employ 172 people in the US and 474 in total.

In the Financial Year ended 28th February 2018, LotusWorks experienced unprecedented growth within the US, with turnover for the US business for this period of $26.5M representing growth of 168% on the prior financial year. LotusWorks is projecting further growth levels in excess of 20% in the US market for the financial year ending 28th February 2019.

Business & Finance, in association with KPMG, manages the Ireland INC Index which comprises an Index of Irish companies investing and operating in the US. The list is constantly monitored and updated. Download the Ireland INC 100 report.