O’Brien Fine Foods

Ireland’s Leading Cooked Meats Producer finds the perfect ingredient for improved communication company wide
O'Brien Fine Foods logo
It’s great to have that predictability for our budget going forward and know our phone costs for the year ahead—without those nasty surprises showing up in the bills.

Eoghan Fitzgibbon

Infrastructure Manager

When the COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect, O’Brien Fine Foods, Ireland’s leading cooked-meats producer, quickly realised that continuing with its operations was more important than ever.

O’Brien Fine Foods is the leading producer of cooked meats in Ireland and a favourite supplier of the country’s largest and most respected food retailers. The organisation sells products under three household-name brands: Brady Family, Homebird, and Green Farm. O’Brien Fine Foods employs over 500 people across three production, warehousing, and office locations.
In fact, although the company has always been a family-run business, it has grown to such a degree that many of the top food retailers across Ireland stock their shelves with O’Brien Fine Foods brands: Brady Family, Homebird, and Green Farm.
But even as the organisation was building a world-class food-production operation, its telecommunications infrastructure was falling well below the O’Brien Fine Foods standard of excellence. The lockdowns accelerated the IT team’s search for a better phone solution.

Separate PBX systems at every location

Each time O’Brien Fine Foods added a new location over the years—for food production, storage, office space—the company set up a standard telecommunications system: an onsite PBX, copper lines, and physical phones scattered throughout the office.
“The problem was that we eventually had three PBX systems across our business, and none of them were connected to the others,” says Eoghan Fitzgibbon, Infrastructure Manager for O’Brien Fine Foods. “Just calling across locations or transferring an inbound call to another site was a challenge.”
Nor were inefficiencies in cross-site communication the only problems with this legacy phone infrastructure. Because all communication was restricted to landlines and desk phones, the staff faced serious limitations in their ability to communicate while away from their desks.
“Our employees need access to instant communication even when they’re on the move, such as walking the production or warehouse floor,” explains Eoghan. “The old system, with desk-bound phones, didn’t give us the mobility and flexibility we needed.”

Rural locations prone to outages

But there was yet another challenge. Several of O’Brien Fine Foods’ sites are located in remote, rural areas of Ireland. As Eoghan explains: “When we had phone outages—which was a relatively common occurrence—they could last for days or even weeks because our location wasn’t a priority for the provider.”
In fact, if there was a single experience that drove the company’s decision to find a better phone solution, it was a prolonged outage in December. That’s one of the busiest times of the year for O’Brien Fine Foods, as customers from all over the country call in large orders for holiday hams and other meat products.
“At that point, it was clearer than ever that our phone system was posing an ongoing risk to our business—so my team started researching alternatives.”
At our rural locations, we’re always vulnerable to phone outages. But we can’t afford to be unreachable by our customers, suppliers, or coworkers.

Eoghan Fitzgibbon

Infrastructure Manager
Retail / Manufacturing
Timahoe, Naas, County Kildare, Ireland

And then… COVID

When the lockdowns went into effect, O’Brien Fine Foods was of course deemed an essential business, and its meat-production facilities were allowed to continue operating. But most of the company’s 150 office-based employees had to transition to remote work.
With phone service tied to its offices, the company had difficulty staying connected with suppliers and customers—who understandably needed more communication, not less, during this confusing time.
“We had our usual desk bound employees using their own phones to take business calls” Eoghan recalls.
The IT team was also constrained in its ability to support employees with technical issues while everyone was working remotely. “My team shared a single number for IT support,” says Eoghan. “But we could forward that number to only one of us at a time, which meant IT support was limited for our employees.”

The answer: RingCentral’s cloud communications solution

With RingCentral’s cloud solution, Eoghan was able to give his entire organisation a business phone system that they could use anywhere, on any device—smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop.
“Now our sales reps can take and make their customer calls from home, but using their business number,” Eoghan explains. “Also, because RingCentral gives us direct-dial extensions for every number, it’s now easy to reach anyone at any location using the softphone app on our computers or the mobile app on our phones.”

Saving money in several ways

Having a wide-range of phone usage requirements across the business meant other solutions didn’t work out to be cost-effective but as Eoghan says “With the way RingCentral works, it was a no-brainer - we could ensure everyone that needed a phone number had one and pool the minutes across the company”.
Also as O’Brien Fine Foods has several suppliers and customers outside of Ireland, the company used to find itself periodically with enormous telecom bills. But because their international calls on RingCentral’s phone system are billed the same as local calls, the new solution is already providing considerable savings on telecom bills.
“It’s great to have that predictability for our budget going forward and know our phone costs for the year ahead —without those nasty surprises showing up in the bills,” Eoghan says.
RingCentral also saved O’Brien Fine Foods money on its telecom infrastructure in another way. As Eoghan explains: “The mobile signal in one of our production facilities is very poor because it’s in a remote area.” But because RingCentral offers full phone capability via a mobile app on any internet device, Eoghan’s team was able to equip their remote production site with strong WiFi and let employees use the WiFi signal on their mobile phones.
“Thanks to RingCentral, we didn’t have to make a big capital expenditure to boost the mobile signal at our production site, which we had always assumed we would need to do at some point. When we realised that, it was like discovering a big hidden cost savings in our telecom expenses.”
It’s great to have that predictability for our budget going forward and know our phone costs for the year ahead—without those nasty surprises showing up in the bills.

Eoghan Fitzgibbon

Infrastructure Manager