In the executive chair with: Emma Maye CEO, Ardale and Core Builders Providers

by | Mar 25, 2024

With over 20 years’ experience across various sectors of the construction industry and a family legacy in the home building industry, Emma Maye is the creative vision behind the Ardale Group.

Prior to setting up Ardale in 2012 with her husband and business partner Alan Hegarty, she was Managing Director at ELM Holdings managing a portfolio with a value in excess of €1billion.

Ardale says its company vision is to revolutionise home building, challenge conventions and embrace a unique approach to crafting exceptional homes and prioritising what matters most to people.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Learn to go with your gut. If it feels right go with it and always keep true to your values.

What project are you most excited about?

We have recently received planning for Phase 2 at our lands at Tinakilly, for 352 homes. Our team created the vision for the entire 700 units from the raw land purchase in 2015, and we continue on the delivery of our vision for this community.

How do you approach long-term planning and strategy?

When it comes to long-term planning and strategy, my approach involves working closely with various teams, each contributing their own unique skills.

By clearly defining our goals, we develop a comprehensive plan and strategy to reach them, utilising the expertise of the best team to help us achieve success.

What digital tools or technology are you embracing to get work done?

Technology is embracing the sales process – we are utilising VR for walk-throughs. Technology is also embracing document and construction management.

We have gone fully in the cloud for HR. Overall, technology has really helped us to reduce down the amount of paper we use. We are now able to send out contracts, such as sales and HR contracts and get everything digitally signed.

Because of my IT background it’s something I have embraced for a number of years now. I am constantly looking at new things to improve our business and make us work smarter.

What are the big industry trends you’re noticing right now?

As a company we are constantly reviewing the sustainability of our developments and aiming to improve and innovate in our delivery. We are seeing pressure coming on the delivery of four bed houses within the 500,000 First Home Scheme price ceiling.

Increasing this to 525k, only five per cent, will substantially increase the delivery of homes on our sites. Developers want to know the goal posts within which they are operating.

Knee jerk political interference in the industry is not helpful. It causes uncertainty and uncertainly affects feasibility, which slows down development.

Who’s impressing you most in the industry at present?

I have so much respect for anyone working in the development industry. I couldn’t pick just one. I find that developers are by their nature innovators and problem solvers.

We are being thrown an inordinate number of challenges, from legislation to planning, to regulations and funding. Developers have admirably navigated their way through these challenges all the while with negative public sentiment towards them.

What did you learn from your biggest mistake?

I have two mistakes that I have learnt from. The biggest mistake was working out of control hours. I used to work 18 hours a day seven days a week. I wore myself out physical and mentally as I thought there was no other way to get through the amount of work.

I ended up with various health issues that I had to work on to repair. I wish I had listened to my body. I learnt that stress needs to be managed.

Secondly, I’d have to say, a historic industry wide issue, putting debt on land without planning. Land early in the development cycle can’t take debt and needs to be able to navigate the economy, debt just doesn’t work in that regard.

Buy land with equity, so you can survive the development land cycles.

Who’s your role model within the industry or wider business community?

This is a hard question as there are so many I admire. My best friend Jenny Taffee died a few years ago and I was in awe in what she did. I admire people who work hard and have a vision.

I take a huge amount of my inspiration from my late father – he had strong family values and an innate ability to bring people on a journey with him. I look at Dundrum Town Centre with pride. He delivered what his vision was.

Best podcast you’ve listened to recently?

I enjoy many business and wellbeing podcasts. I really like Shane Cradock’s The Inner Edge and Georgie Crawford’s The Good Glow.

What’s your passion when you’re not at work?

I love sea swimming and try to swim three to four times a week. I love cooking, which is my therapy – I have over 300 cookbooks. I try to play tennis once or twice a week.

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