Danefort Hurling & Camogie Club Chairman Jim Tierney with Danesfort Development Committee Chairman and Taxback CEO Terry Clune (Photo by Harry Reid)
Everyone knows Terry Clune, the CEO of Taxback. For this week’s Day in the Life of Terry, let me tell you about the family man - who values the community that has adopted him and why Kilkenny is the best place to do business in.
Here is the long story short - Terry was born in London to Irish parents. The family moved back to Ireland when he was just a year old, to farm sheep and barley on the hills of Wicklow.
Terry set up his first business at the age of eight! As a 17 year old student he was fed up of working at home on the farm for free. So that summer he went to Germany to work in a factory. The lady he worked for liked his work ethic and asked him to bring over more Irish students like him.
Terry did so successfully, but by the end of the summer he wondered about all the tax the students had paid while in Germany. So he vowed to get it back for them and Taxback was born!
In those early days, Terry needed someone on board who spoke German, as he couldn’t, and he needed to figure out the German tax system. He interviewed an amazing girl from Wexford, Kate. They secretly dated for eight years before they tied the knot and today the couple live in Danesfort, Co. Kilkenny with their five children.
Here is a glimpse into Terry’s world…
Terry with five kids, it’s no wonder you are heavily involved in sport and community - be in taking part or on the side-lines.
That's for sure Siobhan! Our family ranges from the youngest age 4 to the eldest age 15, so there’s lots of sports events. That’s one of the great things about Kilkenny, there is so much to do.
Now you have a new role - Head of Danesfort’s Development Committee. How are you feeling about the new development that started last week for Danesfort GAA?
I am only one of many that has seen this dream come together. There’s a wonderful committee involved and that’s a testament to the great day we witnessed last week as the development started and the first sod was turned at the Danesfort GAA grounds. I can’t emphasise enough how a huge amount of work from so many different people have got us to this stage.
As a parent with children actively involved in the club over many years, I can see the real benefits that these facilities will have for our club and the wider community at large. As CEO of the Taxback Group I’m really delighted for our company to be supporting this fantastic development initiative.
We are urging people to ‘Buy a Brick’ to help develop Danesfort GAA Club together. Every brick could make a difference in a child's future, so it would be great if people could support us.
Why is community important to you?
There’s a fantastic community spirit here in Danesfort, with so many people willing to play a part to help out. Just look at how many people turned up at 9am on a rainy Monday morning, after an All-Ireland Semi Final to support us. That’s what makes it all worthwhile. I feel confident that this new development will bring about an even stronger centre of gravity for our community.
Terry what brought Kate and you to Kilkenny in the first place?
Eamon Langton and Frank Kavanagh did! Kate and I wanted to move our business out of Dublin. So we spent a week in Galway, a week in Wexford and a week in Kilkenny.
While in Kilkenny we stayed in Langtons and we met Eamon during breakfast. We told him why we were visiting and he sat down with us for an hour an explained why we needed to move to Kilkenny.
Eamon also rang Frank Kavanagh, Kilkenny’s famous tour guide and Frank gave us a wonderful tour of Kilkenny Castle. We were blown away with the heritage and history. Our business was quite small at that time. When we moved here we employed 20 people. This has since grown to 1,800 people worldwide - so Kilkenny definitely breeds success!
You give a lot of credit to your team, especially those from Kilkenny.
We build world-class financial technologies which make life easier for companies doing business internationally. A huge amount of our innovation is driven by very smart people in the South East of Ireland, many from Kilkenny.
Catherine Quirke from Coon leads Taxback International, while Cora Phelan manages Global Accounts like Google. Richard Limpkin from Castle Gardens has built Immedis - the world’s greatest payroll technology, while Kilkenny man Mark Graham is it’s Chief Commercial Officer, sponsoring golfer Shane Lowry. Una Downey from Freshford Road runs Global Treasury at Transfermate, while Dicksboro man Barry Henderson is Head of Global Regulation.
Fortunately as we have grown - we have attracted a lot of our great people back home to Kilkenny. Everything is possible when you have great team of people focused on being the best.
Are you still the idea’s man?
We get ideas from the newest people who join. We are very much open to ‘why don’t you do it this way?’ In business, it’s easy to forget that the best ideas come from simply asking staff and customers ‘How can we do better?’
You are very modest.
Summer holidays picking stones in Wicklow does that to you! Seriously, my Mum & Dad kept me very well grounded, and they also let me take a few chances. I’ve been very lucky.
What’s the most valuable lesson in business have you have learnt?
At the age of eight years old, I used to collect fertilizers bags from neighbouring farmers who had no use for them. I would roll them up into a bag of 20 and sell them for a pound to wood merchants, who needed them to bag wood.
It was a really good business for an eight year old. It enabled me to buy my first BMX, which I cycled around to neighbouring farmers on Saturday mornings while eating Mars bars for breakfast!
Tragically, my business went bust when I was nine and that’s when I learnt the most valuable lesson about being in business. A boy from across the mountain saw what I was doing and came up with a better bag - a see through bag. He knew the wood merchants would prefer his product. So he took my customers, put me out of business and taught me the best lesson in my life - the second you become complacent, it’s the end. You need to constantly innovate and constantly create new ideas.
Is Kilkenny still a great place to do business?
It’s a brilliant place and it’s getting even better. People here are genuine, down to earth people, with a quiet confidence, knowing they live in an extraordinary place. Kilkenny people have great pride for their county and they don’t really brag about it.
Whatever Kilkenny seems to do, it does it really well. From the schools, to sports facilities to protecting the old buildings. I often bring our overseas customers to visit our Kilkenny office. They like nothing more than to sit at the side-line of Danesfort GAA pitch and watch a hurling match.
Kilkenny has what it takes to win deals, be it a walk around Kell’s Priory and our medieval buildings or showing them the fastest game in the world. In showing people something different, this place, our community always blows them away and brings them back.
For more on the exciting new development at Danesfort Hurling and Camogie Club or to buy a brick, please visit www.danesfortgaa.ie
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