Martin Naughton is one of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs and is also an accomplished engineer and thinker, who has a subtle and well-thought out philosophy of management. His first business, Glen Electric, began in 1973 with ten employees and borrowings of £60,000. Within four years he had bought out Dimplex, the leading British brand in the electrical heating market. This was just the beginning of acquisitions, which have led to Glen Dimplex becoming the world’s largest manufacturer of domestic heating appliances, employing 8,000 staff and with twenty-two manufacturing facilities throughout Europe and North America. Though sales are now in excess of €1.6 billion he was quoted in 1987, when he was Business & Finance’s Businessman of the Year, as saying that “turnover is vanity, but profit is sanity”. Profitability is something which has always been associated with his company. He runs a privately owned world-class business which he has carefully built up by thoroughly analysing businesses throughout the world and by acquiring the best. He has done this without wanting to be celebrated publicly and he is rarely seen in the media.
Martin sees his role as looking after people, employees and customers as well as making sure his company invests strongly in research & development to make its products the best in the world. He said in a 2002 Sunday Business Post interview that “To me, the one key word in management is caring…when you care about your business, you won’t let anything happen to it”. Another thing he has cared about is the profession of engineering, as a former President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, and he has consistently helped young people to enter that profession by funding substantial scholarships. He and his wife Carmel have been extremely generous with their time and money in helping charities and various colleges throughout Ireland and this led them to being named Philanthropists of the Year in 2016. He is a very hard-working man who has done a great deal for his community both economically and personally. To any budding entrepreneur there are two very relevant quotes from him, on risk-taking and how he views his work:
On risk-taking: “Everything in life is a gamble and business is risk-taking. It doesn’t suit everybody…You need to look in the mirror and ask the one person who knows if you can do it. There are risks, but some are worth taking.”
On work: “It has been, for me, great fun… I have been terribly lucky over the last 15 or 20 years. I do it now because I want to do it, not because I have to do it.”
Martin Naughton has been so successful not because of luck but because of great ability and generosity, and so he was conferred with the Irish Academy of Management Whitaker Award recipient for 2016.