BIG READ: 'I moved to this part of Ireland in 1977,' from farmer to pharma in Tipp

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David Anchell


David Anchell



Tipperary Tipperary Tipperary

David Anchell, Managing Director

It feels rather inappropriate in such an ‘industrial’ feature to talk in the first person.  I can’t resist, however, recounting my relevant personal history – so please indulge me and forgive me.

I moved to this part of Ireland in 1977.  At that time there was much talk of the newly constructed and opened ‘Chemical Factory’ near Kilsheelan. 

Of course, it never was a Chemical Factory but in those days our layman knowledge of the new blossoming Irish Healthcare Industry was basic in the extreme.

Ireland was then (dare I say?) a relatively poor and certainly unindustrialised country.  The major sources of income were Agriculture and Tourism. 

That local Chemicals Factory was amongst one of a number of Pioneer Pharmaceutical Synthesis Companies from which our current critically important modern Life Science Industry grew.

The Irish Healthcare Industry has grown dramatically since those early beginnings and has also broadened technically into the more innovative Biochemical Pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.  Now collectively termed BioPharma Industry, this sector has become the biggest Irish manufacturing industry of all.

In 2020 this sector exported a value of over EUR 106 Billion – the first time any sector has exceeded the EUR 1 Billion mark in a single year. 

This represents 67% of the total goods exported from this country.  Over 30,000 people are directly employed in this industry and a further 30,000 approx. 

Indirectly I am personally privileged to be employed by Camida – one of those supporting Companies. 

A further 40 odd staff are also employed in our ‘Blue House on the Quay’, supplying specialised raw material requirements for the Pharmaceutical and Food Industries.  

Ireland is now among the top 5 Pharmaceutical manufacturing countries in the world.  We host 10 of the world’s largest pharma companies here and not only do we have the single largest Bio-Pharma plant in the world – we are actually also the largest BioPharma producing country of all.

To what do we owe this remarkable impact and hugely successful development? 

Actually, a diverse range of reasons:

Great Innovative work by the IDA - in the 70s and 80s attracting the industry to invest here in the first place.
Attractive corporation tax rates – again a successful ‘bait’ by our Government (nice to be able to compliment them at times!)
EU Membership - Global companies required a base within the EU for access to this ‘free’ market.
High Efficiencies and educated workforce - (more about this below)
Solid performance – Ireland relatively quickly created a successful high yield production history.
Regulatory and Conformance - Ireland’s safe and solid performance in this arena is second to none.
Ireland is ‘the place to be’ – Just as it is vogue to open a restaurant in a ‘restaurant filled street or town’ – thus one success feeds another.  Similarly, it is true of this Industry where competitors become colleagues and partners in lobbying and consolidation of the Industry needs. 

A discourse for a moment on the very suitable workforce we have available here.  50 years ago, Ireland had little Industry but many highly educated youngsters – who typically emigrated in the search for appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate!) occupations. 

Suddenly, but slowly, then exponentially, opportunities developed for these highly educated students.  More than that – these new technical and professional positions provided exciting and demanding employment never seen in Ireland before.

So, unencumbered by the negative aspects of ‘dirty’ Chemical and other Industries and refreshingly free from outdated union and labour issues of other nations – our ambitious youth grasped this opportunity with both hands and with alacrity. 

Irish professional and technical employees are nowadays highly respected throughout the world.

Many Global Corporations have now back integrated their executives from Ireland into Senior Management of their home Headquarters – be that American, Japanese, German, British, now Chinese too. 

Some of these individuals return home here after a few years – sometimes as CEOs of their Irish Operations.

Camida offices on the Quay

And what of the future?

Ireland continues to be one of the largest recipients of Life Science Investment in the world and the largest in the EU.  This is likely to grow even more as Ireland is now the only English-Speaking Nation in the EU (after Brexit). 

This appeals to all overseas nations but especially to the USA, with whom of course we have an historic and continuing close relationship. 

Overseas investment plans therefore continue to strengthen, with Capital provision to production facilities of over EUR 10 Billion in recent years.

This is obviously a profitable Industry to be a major player in.  But not only that – the Modern Life Science Industry is highly professional, it is environmentally safe and provides substantial high-level employment. 

It also employs ‘decent’ business executives that uphold morally and professionally high standards.

It is a real privilege for me to have been able to work in this Industry always – and for more than 30 years in Camida on the Quay – close to my home.

The work ethic of those employed at Camida has ensured our own success and enabled true optimism for the future and, yes, created a certain pride for what we have already achieved.

Due to the endeavour of our 40 odd employees, we have been fortunate enough to achieve a high reputation with Suppliers and Customers alike and to share our success with the local community.

I would not choose to be without any single one of my staff.  That fact, our reputation and our desire to share our success gives me the most satisfaction of all.  A wonderful journey for me since the beginnings of our Industry 50 years ago.

What a transformation!

And what a tremendous reason for us all to share optimism for our futures!