How to effectively compete for business with multinationals as an Irish SME

SURFASOLOGY | AIBF
Pictured above is Eddie Grace, MD at SURFASOLOGY.

Attracting business can be a difficult task for SMEs with large multinationals as competitors.

The significant resources and manpower harnessed by the larger corporations often out-muscle the little guy in the competition for contracts.

But Eddie Grace of SURFASOLOGY says small and medium-sized businesses like his have advantages over their larger competitors which clever leaders can capitalise on.

“Multinationals aren’t the size they are because they’re bad at their jobs,” he said. “But there are always opportunities for smaller businesses to compete.”

“Multinationals have huge resources both financially and physically but at the end of the day, people buy from people and these larger businesses can sometimes make wide-ranging internal decisions that take cost into consideration rather than the local customer.”

“If you can gain trust and if you’re seen to consistently do a good job, you will always get work and you will always grow.”

SURFASOLOGY is the trading name of IBC Limited a business that has been serving the Irish Construction Industry with high-efficacy waterproofing systems and solutions since 1976.

The company’s ethos is to provide the best technical solution to each project to ensure ease of application and long-term performance.

Eddie says this dedication to quality is the cornerstone upon which his business is built.

He said: “Our philosophy is quite simple – get it right the first time.”

“We believe in completing every job to the highest possible standards so the client doesn’t have to worry about repairs down the line.”

“We’re very selective of the projects that we undertake and the people that we work with to make sure that we keep to our philosophy.”

“We look at our customer’s track records which is everything from their attitude to quality, the way they work onsite, and how reliable they are to pay you.”

“If the main contractor is someone who wants to cut corners and cost engineer everything down to the lowest common denominator then we’re not interested.”

“It is easy for contractors to initially pick the cheapest option. The problem is that if they select the wrong system at the outset the costs can continue to grow long after the initial application, due to the requirement of remedial repairs, which ultimately leads to unhappy clients.”

“We provide peace of mind to the contractor because they know that their clients will be satisfied with our work.”

SURFASOLOGY has a rigorous five-step process that they carry out to achieve structural waterproofing success.

Step one is the design element, where the company’s Certificated Surveyor of Structural Waterproofing (CSSW) engages with the design professionals, architects and engineers, and contractors to devise a suitable waterproofing plan that provides for both the current and future use of the project.

Step two is materials selection where the team chooses the right products based on the complexity of the project and the requirements for its ongoing use.


Pictured above is Eddie Grace, head of two-time Business All-Star accredited company SURFASOLOGY.

Step three is the application where the SURFASOLOGY team carries out the installations which come with a full warranty.

Step four is the quality approval process where the work is regularly monitored throughout the project by senior team members to ensure consistency and quality before the project advances to step five where the team issues a sign-off, certification and a warranty.

This rigorous approach has yielded steady results.

“Maybe we could be a lot bigger if we chose to chase every job but we’re happy with the steady growth we have achieved,” said Eddie.

“We get a lot of repeat business from existing clients but we also get a lot of new business from word of mouth and from referrals.”

“We are seeing organic sustainable growth year on year which suits us because sometimes you can get too big too quick.”

“When that happens often the quality of your work suffers as it is difficult to keep your eye on all the projects that you are managing. You only get one reputation so it is important to protect it by ensuring that you continuously produce good work.”

SURFASOLOGY was recently named All-Star Dublin Small Business Of The Year by the All-Ireland Business Foundation in recognition of its dedication to quality and standards as well as its contribution to Irish industry and commerce.

Reacting to the news Eddie said: “The Business All-Star Accreditation gave us a two-fold benefit. Firstly, it was a way to show our team how good they really are. I believe it gives them confidence to know that we are doing things the right way.”

“Secondly, It’s also an external recognition of the standards that we maintain in the business and it gives our clients the comfort of knowing that we complete our work to the highest quality levels.”

When asked for his advice for SME’s competing with multinational companies Eddie encouraged leaders to play to their strengths and put the customer first.

He said: “Multinationals mostly have satellite offices in Ireland, but often their core decision-makers are not based here. Global decisions may not be best for the local markets and this is space which provides small businesses with opportunities.”

If you have a short chain of command and proximity to the market, you can react quickly to customer’s needs. Customer centricity is crucial. They like to feel valued.”

“I think that it is crucial for small companies to leverage their local advantages to help their customers which in turn will lead to business growth.”

To learn more about SURFASOLOGY, visit their All-Star showcase page here.