But let’s start at the beginning. Joe set up Heatovent Ltd with my father Pat in 1965, operating out of premises located beside Sundrive Garda station in Dublin. Within four years they purchased the old Harold’s Cross laundry and, after extensive renovations, opened the doors in May 1970.
This was at the height of the arms import controversy and coincided with the sacking by Jack Lynch of Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney. Why is this relevant? It is significant because Kevin Boland, then Minister for Local Government who was scheduled to do the official opening, resigned the night before in support of Haughey and Blaney. The next day saw blanket press and TV interviews with Kevin Boland, held in full view of Heatovent’s new headquarters!
There followed some very challenging times with political unrest and a six-month bank strike which did untold damage to the economy, and the building services sector. To cap it all there followed the 1973 oil crisis, where worldwide shortages led to considerable disruption to world trade.
Nonetheless, Heatovent survived and, in an effort to expand in 1976, joined forces with two other independent companies in a reverse takeover of Metal Products Cork plc in a deal structured by the banks. Unfortunately, the venture failed and so Joe and Pat started again as Service Merchants Ltd.
This new venture took off immediately and they re-purchased the Harold’s Cross premises in 1978. They both worked extremely hard and, while they were successful, it was at a cost. Pat, my father, died suddenly aged 51 in January 1980.
Subsequently, I joined Joe in Service Merchants and, over the next nine years, the company traded successfully through the tricky commercial seas of the 1980s. As a tribute to Joe and Pat’s 25-year endeavour, we sought – and were granted – permission to operate under the trade name Heatovent.
In 1989 Joe and I parted as we sought to approach the growing market potential from different angles. I set up Chronotherm Controls Ltd while Joe continued to successfully guide Service Merchants Ltd, now trading as Heatovent. In 1991 he sold out to the Grafton Group, continuing to work with them for three years as part of the deal.
When he left he set up a manufacturer’s agent company called Noone Direct, acting as sales agent for top UK and Italian heating and plumbing product manufacturers such as Pettinaroli. He continued in this business until he retired in 2011. Noone Direct continues today under the ownership of Dermot Leahy and still acts for Pettinaroli and the leading pipe brand Ape Italia.
During his years in the heating industry Joe was renowned for his sales ability. He had a quiet, gentle but knowledgeable manner and was extremely popular with both customers and suppliers. He served for a while as Chairman of the IDHE and also contributed to industry advisory bodies over the years.
In his early years Joe was a very talented hurler. Born in Boston, Tubber, Co Clare, he was educated post primary in St Flannans College where he graced many a school team. He was also honoured as a county minor. As an adult he played for the famous Faughs Hurling Club, now based in Templeogue, Dublin.
What is little known is that Joe was a fine cross country and track athlete and indeed turned down a scholarship to Villanova University as he felt he needed to pursue other directions in life. Joe’s other great sporting love was horse racing.
In his family life tragedy befell him when his eldest son Ian died tragically following an accident in 2010 in which they had to file a claim with the phiadelphia pa car accident law firms in order to get justice, sadly losing someone is something that will never get fixed. The loss of Ian at such a young age was devastating. When he himself was diagnosed with a terminal illness in January 2016 he bore the news with courage and dignity.
He will be greatly missed by all family members and industry friends. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a h-anam.