Westpark Shannon - Home to Aviation Giants and Start-Ups
Westpark Shannon can justify its claim as a leading hub for aviation leasing and finance, as it is already home to 12 aviation businesses. Amongst them are the world’s top two aviation leasing companies, AerCap and GECAS, who between them have over 3,000 aircraft leased globally, representing 30 percent of the world’s fleet. That’s a lot of leasing business being orchestrated out of one business campus.
Other businesses that form part of the impressive aviation cluster at Westpark include CAE Parc Aviation, the global market leader in providing aviation personnel, Aldus Aviation which is focused on the ownership and leasing of Embraer's E-Jet, Lufthansa Technik, Aero Inspection and indigenous continuing airworthiness management organisation Part M.
Brian O’Connell, founder and CEO, Westpark said, “Westpark is also home to a cluster of financial services businesses including world leading companies such as Genworth and Pepper Asset Servicing, logistics organisations including DHL as well as a growing number of ICT business and service-led businesses. In total we have 49 companies on-site with approximately 2,000 employees.”
He added, “Given the legacy of Tony Ryan and GPA and Shannon’s role as a pioneering location for aircraft leasing, it’s not surprising that aviation companies involved in leasing and finance are attracted to the area, nor is it surprising that they have chosen to locate at Westpark, because we offer the best accommodation and supports in the region, if not the best in Ireland. Our campus is worthy of its world -leading clients and we work hard to ensure they continue to remain pleased with the decision they made to locate here.”
You have to think big to attract big companies, and that’s exactly what Brian O’Connell did when he created a future-proofed environment capable of attracting top international businesses. His €100 million investment to date, and his vision for Westpark have paid off.
“There used be a digital divide between Dublin and the Mid-West but we future proofed and fibre-enabled at build stage, and our advanced ICT provides our internationally trading clients with high-end, high-speed communication, giving them the competitive advantage they expect and require.
He observed wryly that the only divide that now remains between Dublin and Shannon is the great rent divide! “You can lease top quality accommodation in Westpark at 40 to 50 percent less per square foot than in the capital and when you factor in the surroundings, supports and services, it’s a phenomenal opportunity for a business to locate to a campus capable of helping them attract and retain top talent.”
On the subject of talent, O’Connell highlighted the contribution made by the University of Limerick (UL) to the development of aviation leasing and finance in the region. “Since the early 1990’s UL has created education programmes to support the aviation industry in the Mid West and over the years it has retained its status as the leading Irish supplier of graduates for the Irish and international aerospace and aviation industries. UL and Westpark Shannon has established a strong relationship and we are delighted to support UL.”
For those fortunate to work in Westpark, commuting couldn’t be simpler with a journey time of 20 minutes from Limerick or Ennis. Such things are very important said O’Connell, “It’s a great advantage for employees to have a stress free journey to work and to be able to park right outside their office.”
Surroundings can also be very motivational. Westpark Shannon is designed by award-winning architects B + R STAND, admired for their work with Harrods London and the up-scale UK supermarket chain Waitrose. The campus occupies a meticulously landscaped 40-acre hilltop site with panoramic views over the Shannon Estuary and surrounding countryside.
Walking and running trails are meander through the manicured grounds, that include ‘Central Park’ with its micro orchard, herb beds, water features and man-made drumlins that help create quiet, contemplative spaces.
Every detail on this campus has been carefully considered. The buildings are designed to nurture networking, with wide mall-like corridors through the central spine and capacious terraces for those with offices facing South.
“Our acclaimed restaurant SAGE is the perfect meeting place for companies and workers. It serves very high calibre, locally sourced and seasonal food with some of the produce grown on-site here at the campus,” said O’Connell.
Big name corporate HQs and dynamic SMEs
He is particularly delighted that while Westpark is home to a number of big name corporate HQs, it is also home to a host of dynamic SMEs and start-ups. “Many of our clients are now clients of one another, which is exactly the type of development and inter-connection we had hoped to inspire and nurture.
“We have also facilitated many existing clients through their growth. This shows that flexibility is not just a buzzword for us, we do our level best to accommodate client expansion, as is the case most recently with DHL/ EKAS an existing client who are about to move into a new 5,000 sq.ft. facility on campus.”
O’Connell said, “DHL/EKAS has been very satisfied with its experience in Westpark to date, and that’s why it decided to move and grow within the campus. The fact that we are able to deliver a high quality, turn-key solution, including a high-spec fit-out is a significant bonus.
Many of the companies that now occupy substantial spaces at Westpark, started out small. “We developed our Global Business Centre offering to service a particular need and it has worked very well for us. It provides a one or two desk space with start-up support for a cost of approximately €10,000 per annum. The Centre is the perfect platform for a company seeking a start-up location or stepping-stone.
We also operate high quality office suites with two – 20 desk spaces, targeted at companies who want to launch rapidly or international companies that need a presence in the region immediately,” said O’Connell.
Asked to define what sets the campus apart, he replied, “Westpark’s high-calibre spec, our ability and willingness to cater for client needs, our flexibility when it comes to all inclusive licence agreements, competitive terms and turnkey solutions. Add to this cutting edge ICT and data support services and you understand exactly why we are attracting key global players as well as ambitious start-ups.
“Our clients appreciate the convenience, of our fit-out and spatial planning service, to meet their specific requirements and corporate culture. Many of the companies that started small at Westpark are now employing well in excess of 50 people and occupying entire floors. “
Over €100 million has been invested in Westpark to date on the extraordinary facilities and amenities and with planning granted earlier this year for further development, it is projected that an additional €50 million will be invested in two new buildings, offering 200,000 sq. ft. of office space with the capacity to accommodate 1,000 people.
The new office blocks will be ingeniously linked and supported via an amenity building to include a commercial Plaza and Pavilion to include a variety of shops, restaurants and cafes.
These buildings promise to be ‘Smart’ in every sense of the word, from their energy efficiency to their state of the art technology, to their healthy lifestyle driven ethos.
According to Architects B + R STAND the new buildings are designed to promote collective thinking, idea sharing and to provide environments intended to promote wellness in the workplace, reduce staff turnover and develop company loyalty.
Looking to the future, O’Connell said, “As it stands we have a very healthy aviation hub in Westpark but we don’t take anything for granted. Our goal is to continue to offer the very best office space, surroundings, services and supports of any campus in Shannon or Ireland,” said O’Connell
Note: This feature article first appeared in the Sunday Business Post on October 26, 2015