Stories of Brave- Drilling for Opportunities


man standing beside machinery 

“The market is very competitive, especially on the island of Ireland, and we always have to be at the top of our game, always looking for new opportunities and knocking on doors.”

AIB prides itself on backing the SMEs that push on and overcome the challenges that come their way. In a special series, ‘Stories of Brave’, we have been shining a light on the qualities that make these brave businesses succeed, such as those embodied by Armagh-based horizontal directional drilling specialists GMAC Utilities Ltd.


GMAC Utilities Ltd as it is today came about as a result of some brave decision making from its company directors, brothers Gerald and Conor McCloskey. “I had been working within the utilities installation industry for years, as has the whole family".

Gerald says, “Our father runs a major mechanical engineering firm, and Conor has been running a gas infrastructure business since 2001. Around 2013 the opportunity arose to focus on drilling specifically, something I had knowledge of from previous construction work. Within a year we had bought our first drill and work started on a project in Wales where Conor is based.” Six years later, the company has grown considerably, now with 14 rigs and employing around 40 people across its two bases, a head office in Armagh and another site in Wales, overseen by Conor.

GMAC specialises in ‘trenchless’ solutions for construction projects, allowing miles of pipeline to be laid with minimal disruption to the surrounding environment. Gerald explains: “Horizontal directional drilling is preferable to digging for our clients for a number of reasons. For example, it allows a pipeline to be laid without needing to close wide stretches of road or rail line above it – even an aircraft runway can continue to operate while work is being carried out. At other times it is necessary for environmental protection reasons, such as laying pipeline below a river, or where the terrain is difficult.”

Hard work from the team and a persistent attitude has been key to success for the firm. “The market is very competitive, especially on the island of Ireland, and we always have to be at the top of our game, continually looking for new opportunities and knocking on doors. My advice to any director is to never rest on your laurels, constantly strive for more.  Being able to offer clients full turnkey solutions on projects does give us an edge as jobs can be delivered more efficiently and cost-effectively. We are proud to have a strong team around us, and that has been an important part of getting us where we are today.”

Like all businesses, 2020 brought with it challenges for GMAC but the company’s commitment to clients and its staff kept them moving. “Covid-19 has been challenging for the industry, but we have had to make it work and our team has responded well given the circumstances. As lockdown approached, we had some projects that had to be completed fast, and then the construction industry largely had to down tools for a period. After a number of weeks we were then back working, and operating to the new protocols introduced at sites, including limiting number of people in each vehicle, social distancing measures and appropriate hygiene measures.”

Looking to the future, Gerald and Conor want the company to continue to grow its presence on these islands, while also looking to the continent. “Despite the uncertainty of this year we are fortunate to have work in the pipeline, and looking ahead we are keen to continue to grow and take on our first projects in Europe. We are striving to be one of the biggest if not the biggest directional drilling company in Ireland and the UK. AIB has backed us all the way and helped us to grow the business and invest further in new equipment. We are delighted with how the business has grown in recent years and look forward to 2021 and the next step of our journey.”

AIB is backing businesses by providing a range of supports and cashflow solutions tailored to your business needs. For further information, visit AIB NI We Back Brave.