Born and raised near Newport in Co. Tipperary, Michael O’Connor can call himself both a farmer and haulier.
The second-generation farmer comes from a small beef enterprise in his home county, run in unison with his father, Gerard. Together the 25-year-old and his father keep a small herd of beef cattle, buying stock in as weanlings and fattening them for finishing. Originally, the family only began their venture into agriculture approximately 11 years ago, upon Gerard inheriting the farm.
This is an enterprise only started by the farming duo in recent years, as before this, Gerard bought all stock in and sold them either as yearlings or once they reached two-years-old.
The O’Connor family only rear bullocks in their system and aim to have them finished at 28-months old. All cattle kept on the farm are predominantly continental crossbreds. The family had previously kept mainly Hereford types up until about four years ago. They stock is sourced from the nearby Newport livestock mart.
“It is all bullocks we kill,” Michael said.
“Up until about four years ago, my father would have kept all Herefords, but in the last couple of years he has changed over to continental crossbreds, Charolais and Limousine crosses,” he continued.
Because of his agricultural background, Michael has always played a significant role in the running of the family farm in Newport and it was these experiences that instilled a passion for agriculture into the Tipperary man. Michael remains involved in the running of the family farm to this day and now even buys his own stock.
“I am a lot more involved the last couple of years…I am buying a few cattle myself now,” Michael stated.
“We source most of our cattle together from our local mart and buy some off the land also”
As both Michael and his father have full-time careers off-farm, farming duties are usually shared and carried out before and after their working day.
“Myself and my father are both working, We are only part-time farming really.” Michael said.
Michael’s journey -
Michael’s journey into the haulage is quite the unusual one, considering he has no haulage ‘blood’ in his background. The interest in trucks, however, has always been there.
“I always had an interest in trucks, but I wasn’t really around them that much when I was younger.” Michael said to Kevin Forde of That’sFarming.
After taking on a few roles in the locality, Michael got fed up and decided he was going to head abroad. It was only after taking in a trip to Australia and returning home to Ireland that Michael gained his first start in the sector, in the shape of a three-month trial with his current employers, United Metals Ltd.
“I went to Australia for three months and when I came back and there was a friend of mine working in United Metals.” Michael said.
“I was looking for a job and they said (United Metals Ltd) they would give me a three-months trial.” He adds.
Michael began his journey into the sector by washing the fleet of United Metals, before cutting steel was added to his list of tasks. This led to the 25-year-old being offered a full-time contract, an opportunity he grabbed with both hands.
“I went on from that to cutting the steel,” Michael recalled.
“They were happy with me then, so they gave me a full-time contract.” He reminisced.
After signing on the dotted line, the team running United Metals Ltd began to encourage Michael to pursue his licences, so they could give him his start behind the wheel. Before long, this became a reality as Michael passed his rigid test aged 20 and it is behind the wheel he has remained ever since.
“They were pushing me to go away and get my provisional truck licence and they said they would look after me.” Michael told Kevin.
“So I went away and passed the full rigid test in 2014, aged 20…The week after I passed the test, they had me out driving straight away,” he continued.
Michael began his career behind the wheel of one of the company’s rigid lorries for a period of time before eventually completing his artic test. The first truck he took control over is the same truck that he drives to this day, a Scania P400 hooklift.
“I got into a fairly fresh truck straight away. They must have had a bit of trust in me,” He laughed.
“It was in 2016 I did the artic test…They wanted me to pull a trailer on the back of the truck and after I passed that in 2016, they bought a brand-new trailer and put it on behind it,” he explained.
United Metals Ltd: The team involved & Michael’s Role -
United Metals Ltd is a metal recycling business based in Ballysimon Co. Limerick, after being formed by six former employees of Hegarty Metals in 2010.
Together the team of United Metals Ltd tackle all types of metal recycling, dealing with local authorities, small and large business, quarries, bio pharma clients, and agricultural clients. They offer car scrappage, skips, recycling, material testing, truck collection and demolition services.
The main man in United Metals is David Hegarty and as well as the original six who founded the company, there are also a team of thirteen drivers involved, Michael included. Micheal’s main role within United Metals Ltd is driving the truck, servicing skips throughout the country. He has now been working with the team for a total of seven years.
“I would usually be servicing all of the skips that we have with different companies around the country. I could be anywhere really…all over the country really.” said Michael.
“I am seven years here in July…I am a part of the furniture at this stage.” Michael chuckled.
United Metals Ltd currently have a fleet of thirteen lorries within their operation, a mixed fleet comprising of Scania, Volvo, Renault and Hino lorries. Michael currently holds responsibility for a Scania P400 within the fleet.
“There are thirteen of our own lorries on the road…It is a mixed fleet…90% of the fleet would be Scania’s” Michael told Kevin.
Make - Scania
Model - P400 Hooklift
Year - 2013
“I drive the same truck as when I started, a 2013 Scania P400.” Micheal said to Kevin.
Future Aspirations -
More than happy within his current role and working alongside the team of United Metals Ltd, Michael has no plans to shake things up anytime soon.
“I am quite content where I am at the moment.” Michael stated.
“They are a brilliant company to work for. There is never a bother with them,” he added.
Although Michael harbours dreams of one day owning a truck painted with the O’Connor name and logo, he is not rushing into anything. He also retains the desire to go farming on a full-time basis at some stage but admits that this remains a “dream”. He will though, at some stage, undertake his green certificate.
“I do dream someday that I might have my own truck on the road, but you never know.” The Tipperary man told Kevin Forde.
“I would like to go farming full-time as well if I could, but that is only a dream for the moment.” He continued.
Michael and his partner, Paige, only recently became parents for the first time before Christmas, meaning they currently have their hands full. Who knows, although Tadhg is currently only two-months-old, he may one day follow in his father’s footsteps, taking a place behind the wheel within the haulage sector.
“We will see how things go over the next couple of years first…I might make him stay in school longer,” Michael laughed.
Why Haulage -
A man who is simply ‘mad for tar', ‘All Things Haulage’ and anything farming related, Michael couldn’t be happier than he is within his current role, splitting his time between driving and farming.
“I just love it.” Michael said.
“I love getting around and seeing some of the country as well,” he added.
Michael also thoroughly enjoys meeting with and having the craic with many of the regular customers of United Metals Ltd. He is a man who enjoys being 'on the go' and an office job wouldn’t be his cup of tea. To put it simply, he was born with an addiction to lorries.
“We have a very good customer base…You chat away with them and they might have a bit of news for you.” He said.
“I love being on the go all the time as well, I couldn’t sit in an office all the time…Every day is a challenge” Michael concluded.
Are you working in the haulage sector like Michael? Want to share your story and be featured in our weekly series? Email us a short bio to firstname.lastname@example.org.