By Jimmy Rhatigan
TODAY your Reporter salutes a trinity of talent from Kilkenny CBS Secondary School, young boys with noses for entrepreneurship, bright brains and perhaps most important of all, warm and caring hearts.
In a nutshell we are talking about a class act, a team of three super young innovators.
At a time when finance is king, the 14 year olds who will sit their Junior Certificate next year at the James’s Street School, our young guns are battling to save lives on farms and to help men and woman of the land to avoid serious injury.
In inventing a ram, something our farming brothers and sisters will immediately identify with but city slickers may think in terms of a sheep’s boyfriend, they have written a new chapter in farm safety.
Safety and saving lives are keys for Matthew O’Sullivan of Newtown, Callan, Cuffesgrange’s Edward Daly and John O’Brien, Newtown, Callan, friends, classmates in 2nd year at a school we colloquially and rather fondly call The Brothers.
The boys, with the support of their teachers and school boss Tom Clarke worked wonders as they came up with a clever invention to make life on a tractor a lot safer.
Their brilliant work won an All-Ireland title for their school as they scooped the National Student Enterprise Award in the intermediate category after doing the business in a competitive local field of innovation.
Their motto of Safety Before Profit is admirable.
Safety first: Slogan is magic and poignant too
The magic slogan that sets them apart from most others is particularly poignant for young Edward Daly whose cousin was killed in a tractor accident.
He has dedicated the new safety ram to his cousin and with his fellow whiz kids he is confident that the ram will be a vital safety tool for the greater agricultural community in which the families of all three students are steeped.
Edward Daly is Joint CEO and Sales manager of the business group, John O’Brien is Joint CEO and Stock Controller while Matthew O’Sullivan is Joint CEO and Financial Controller.
Openness, transparency and equality are the corner stones of their business adventure.
On advice they have not patented their product as they have been told that this route could be a costly road to travel.
But they are ambitious, they are determined to make their machine a market leader and they are hoping to team up with a multinational like John Deere, a combination of local genius and world power.
It was heartening to chat to the boys in a classroom at the CBS, an alma mater of which so many of us are so proud, a magnificent seat of learning in the South East.
The boys are friendly, witty and obviously have an excellent rapport with their business teacher Pat Downey as well as Pat’s fellow business tutors Joanne Kelly and Anna Culleton.
The trio enjoys talking about their hobbies and of their aims post education but at this juncture their focus is firmly on preparing for the Junior Cert.
It is a case of One Day at a Time Sweet Jesus, a line from a gospel song that perhaps sums up their young lives quite aptly as they strive for excellence but are fully aware that it won’t come overnight.
As they designed, honed and perfected what they call A Lift Arm Assist, they liaised with local farmers and agricultural businesses.
They chatted with neighbours and friends and they did market research at Kilkenny Livestock Mart, a virtual home from home for so many men and women of the soil.
They went right down to the nitty gritty, what sort of demand there might be for their ram and, very importantly, they noted that the present tractor population in Kilkenny is 3,513, a good starting point as they eye any global markets.
Highlighted is the life-saving ram invented by CBS boys
They worked closely too with Burnside Eurocyl Ltd, hydraulic cylinder manufacturers of O’Brien Road, Carlow that gave them advice as to what is possible with regards to sizes and procurement of the hydraulic cylinders for their product.
They also got great support from Farm and Industrial Supplies, Cillin Hill.
For their Student Enterprise Programme, the boys explained the value of their product.
The hydraulic ram replaces the lift arm stabilizer on the back of a tractor.
With the product you only have to exit the cab of your tractor once to attach the rest of the implement. The rams are custom designed to fit any tractor, big, small, modern or new.
They figured out how to custom design the ram by getting the measurements from various tractors and then contacted the engineers at Burnside who helped them to design their ram to perfection.
The ram is run off the spool valve on the back of the tractor so when you pull the lever in the cab of a tractor the ram goes in and out which makes adjustments.
There is an option of one or two rams on your tractor, two rams will make adjustment easier but it is then going to be more expense.
Their explanation is in easily understood language and is refreshingly honest, right down to the final line where they point out that a particular choice is more expensive, something you rarely see in modern PR.
The ram price is very competitive, ranging from €210 to €250.
The boys explain that they came up with the price after looking at other safety products relating to farm machinery.
After analyzing the results of their survey, this price was the most selected option.
They say that €210 is the minimum they could sell the product for as all the components cost almost €150.
For the record, Matthew O’Sullivan aiming for engineering, self-entrepreneurship.
John O’Brien plans to follow his dad into dairy farming.
Edward Daly is looking to a career in mechanics.
Our bet is that all three will achieve their goals.
At the risk of exaggerating we would suggest that the three wise students of local invention have already become role models for their peers.
That is praise indeed at a school of 670 students which is regarded as one of the finest in the country.