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Title: Clondalkin Paper Mills Collection 34: John Kilduff
Authors: Keogh, Tommy
Irish Life and Lore
O'Keeffe Maurice
Kilduff, John
Keywords: Clondalkin Paper Mill
Industrial Relations
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Irish Life and Lore/South Dublin Libraries
Description: Track 1: John Kilduff is one of a family of seven from Sligo, and he attended UCD where he studied science. On graduation, he sought out a prospective employer which would provide a business training, and he joined Wiggins Teape in England and attended their project leader training course. His job was to carry out research and development on new products, for example magnetic coated paper used in the London Underground. In 1972 and early 1973, the IRA were active in England and John became concerned about an anti-Irish backlash, particularly as he had a young family. He successfully applied to Clondalkin Paper Mills where he initially worked in quality control management. He recalls the atmosphere at the paper mills at the time and explains that the Clondalkin Group was the seventh largest company in Ireland. In his position, he was answerable to Eugene McKiernan, the mills manager, whom he describes as being very supportive. Fortunately, he worked during the transition period with Ross Jameson, the outgoing quality control manager. John remembers many meetings also with Dr Bert Cusack, and his approach to quality product is considered. Track 2: The role of the paper mills within the Clondalkin Group during the 1970s is remembered, and John recalls a decision made to focus on a particular direction at a meeting called by Joe Dolan, MD of the paper mills. John presented a more technical approach to the market which would utilise the very good technical skills available in the mills. He was offered the position of Sales Manager and was convinced by Joe to take up the sales role with appropriate training. John then became responsible for servicing every customer through the sales force, the majority of whom were based in Ireland. However, the larger opportunities were in the UK and John moved there in 1978 to build up the market. He recalls that Clondalkin Paper Mills had the ability to produce a range of technical papers, such as glazed imitation parchment used to wrap Wilkinson Sword shaving blades, envelopes, publishing papers and so on, and he explains the difference between printing papers and technical paper. The paper was sold to paper converters such as Smith Brothers in Whitehaven who sold on the processed product to businesses for purposes such as wrapping. John tells an anecdote about a meeting with Smith Brothers when he was seeking a 10% increase, but the customer offered 12%! Track 3: Clondalkin Paper Mills manufactured paper and also sold it as a merchant, so the other paper merchants were competitors and customers, John explains. Swiftbrook Paper was then formed as a company to act as a paper merchant with the Clondalkin Paper Mills remaining as a manufacturer. Staff from the sales department were transferred to Swiftbrook Ltd and this company still runs today. In 1979 John recalls that he was contacted by Henry Lund, the new Managing Director of the Clondalkin Group, to meet with Brian Molloy, Managing Director of the paper mills, and he was promoted to Sales Director of the paper mills which marked his return home. He remembers much discussion and negotiation between the workforce, the trade unions and management, and he considers that the main issue was the right of management to manage. He recalls the day in November 1981 when Henry Lund called a management meeting at which the announcement was made. On that day, Dr Bert Cusack joined the meeting and his sense of surprise was obvious to John. The liquidator requested that John and the sales team stay on so that an orderly sale of the stock and materials could be conducted. This period lasted from about December 1981 to April 1982. In his opinion, the sales team achieved about 70% of the full price which exceeded the liquidator’s expectations. After the closure, John worked for some paper companies in the Irish market and also for a Spanish company. Then he was approached by Seamus Rowntree to consider working with a Canadian firm who were forming a new company to run Clondalkin paper mills. John met with Jim McCormack and Jack Freedman in Canada and their financial backer, and he explains that Jim McCormack was known to Dick Spring through both mens’ wives. The new workforce signed up to an agreement negotiated by John and others with the trade unions. Track 4: John was appointed Managing Director of the new paper mills and he explains that the first step was to work on paper conversion, in about 1984 for about nine months, in order to prove that the management, trade unions and workers could operate together. The resultant success triggered the release of government funds to renovate the factory. Machine No. 3 had been sold off but two machines remained and these were fully refurbished to standard. Papermaking was resumed at Clondalkin in 1985 or 1986, with a good deal in cheap energy. John discusses his belief in the trustworthiness of the workforce and the trade unions, particularly after all the negotiations which had taken place. Once the paper- making had started, huge increases in working capital would be quickly required, so bank facilities were set up. John describes what occurred when the banks discovered that the new Canadian owners had not invested greatly, and that the Canadian company was not as substantial as the banks had initially thought. Following further checks, the banks withdrew their support. John recalls that up to that point, the paper manufacturing was in a good state and, as he explains, because he was an employee of the company he had no ability to save the business. He remembers that the appointed receiver did try to sell the business as a going concern and he was asked to assist with this. He explains that he met with five different operations and some financial companies but that there were three companies which were serious about making a deal. A possible deal fell through due to the risky level of operation in a small company in a small country. After this, John worked for two years for a Canadian paper manufacturing company, later he worked in sales training and later still he ran a training and development operation for people with disabilities.
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Appears in Collections:Clondalkin Paper Mills Oral History Collection
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01 John Kilduff 4.mp313.29 MBUnknown
01 John Kilduff 3.mp316.2 MBUnknown
01 John Kilduff 2.mp311.72 MBUnknown
01 John Kilduff 1.mp38.05 MBUnknown

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