It was September, 1951 and a day to celebrate. Michael and Maureen O’Hara just learned of their big win in the sweepstakes. A ticket, that Michael had bought for his wife, was about to change the lives of many forever. Although baking was not an initial passion for Michael, he decided to spend his winnings on a bread oven and started baking bread for the locals. The sweepstakes allowed them to establish their small Family bakery in Foxford, Co. Mayo. So small, in fact, that they knew each and every customer by name. Michael and Maureen wanted the winnings to secure a future for their families and that it did.
In keeping with the family ethos of building and growing the business, on the 15th of May 1983 the bakery re-located to a purpose-built modern facility on the outskirts of Foxford. Following Michael’s untimely death in the early 1970’s, his eldest son, Pat, a trained baker himself, had taken over the running of the business, supported fully by his wife Phil, Mother and siblings. Pat pursued an aggressive re-investment and expansion programme in the Company and it was around this time too, that the bakery diversified into the cake sector. The bakery would go on to be recognised as one of Ireland’s leading national cake producers.
While the bakery was making good quality products it needed to find ways to stand out from our competitors and win a loyal repeat customer base and so the Hygiene, Quality and Food Safety journey began in 1992. Working tirelessly on new systems and procedures the work started to pay off and in the years that followed the bakery won numerous National awards for Hygiene, Quality and Food safety. The company’s recognition of quality has assisted it to command a niche sector in the cake market in particular, as evident from the resulting increase in O’Haras market profile and market share. The key to success was the combination of Management and staff’s commitment to the programmes over the years. Everyone in the Company understands their individual responsibility in maintaining and improving Quality, Hygiene and food safety standards. This has formed a large part of what is guaranteeing our survival today, of what makes us stand out from our competitors, and what makes us proud of the job we do and the company we work for.
60 plus years later, there are 22 O’Hara’s involved in the business. Little did they know was that it would secure a future for the town. With almost 180 employees, it is the largest employer in the area and one of the biggest employers in Mayo.
Success has helped the company grow into one of the biggest bakeries in the west of Ireland and one of the country’s major cake suppliers. In the old days when customers asked Mrs O’Hara why her cakes tasted so good, she would simply answer “care in the making, and care in the baking.” And that simple philosophy is still the bedrock of O’Hara’s thriving business.
Through the years, the factory has grown, products have developed, packaging has changed… but one thing has remained the same… Quality. Despite hard economic times and tough competition, O’Hara’s have never compromised on the quality of their products. They continue to ensure that their products are made with the finest of ingredients and the greatest of care. The products are made by their family to be enjoyed by yours.
Producing over 140 Bread and Cake products and distributing nationwide to all the major retailers and independent stores, O’Hara’s has come a long way since that 1951 sweepstakes win.