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How It Started vs. How It’s Going: J.B. Roche

J.B. Roche is a Cork-based manufacturer of the world’s first inflatable shelters for aircraft maintenance supported by Enterprise Ireland. Since their founding, J.B. Roche has made several pivots and gathered incredible insights into the aviation industry and entrepreneurship. We sat down with the Founder and Managing Director of J.B. Roche, Ian Nagle, to learn about his business and the evolution of its products and innovations over the years. 

1. Q: When and how did J.B. Roche start?

    • A: J.B. Roche started in 1983 as a canvas shop making tarps for haulage companies.

2. Q: Can you give a little bit of background or information on the founders? Who are they, and how did they come together to create the business?

    • A: I was the sole founder and set up the business when the industrial wholesaler I worked for closed that business.

3. Q: What were some of the largest hurdles faced when the business first started?

    • A: Finding customers and getting paid were some of the biggest hurdles!

4. Q: What lessons did you or other founders learn in overcoming those hurdles?

    • A: Don’t set up a business in the middle of a recession, and don’t set up a business in any case unless you can offer a product or service which genuinely offers something special and different. Even with a great product or service, don’t expect to win over customers on the strength of your product offerings alone. You have to work hard at selling yourself to your suppliers, customers, and your own staff.

5. Q: Have there been any major pivots that the company has made over the years?

    • A: Yes. By understanding our customers’ pain points and by engineering solutions through R&D and innovative thinking, we have transitioned from being just another supplier to being a trusted and valued partner.

6. Q: Are there any growth statistics you can share?

    • Yes, our company has grown at a rate of 33% each year for the past 5 years.

7. Q: What is the mission of your J.B. Roche, and has the mission of the company changed at all since it was founded?

    • A: Our mission hasn’t changed. We continuously put ourselves in the shoes of our customers and ask the question; Am I really happy with this quality of product and this level of service, and how can we make it better?

8. Q: What decisions were made that have been instrumental in achieving the company’s current success?

    • A: To never stand still or become complacent, to keep listening to your customers, and to keep investing in R&D.

9. Q: What achievement of J.B. Roche so far are you most proud of?

    • A: Developing and patenting our IglooMX® and FLASHPLUG® ranges of products, both of which have become game-changing solutions in the aviation sector. 

10. Q: What do you hope the future of the company looks like?

    • A: As long as the customers are happy, we’re happy!

11. Q: How has the experience of being a part of J.B. Roche impacted you personally/ your personal growth?

    • A: Owning and running a successful business is a privilege but it tends to become all-consuming, so don’t forget to make time for the other stuff!

12. Q: Looking back on the growth of your company, is there anything you would advise someone else to do differently than you had done?

    • A: Don’t try to do everything yourself, and don’t be afraid to let your business fail if it isn’t making money.

J.B. Roche is a unique company creating products that truly meet the needs of the aviation industry. We are so grateful to Ian Nagle for sharing the story of J.B. Roche with us and for being a fantastic Enterprise Ireland client company.

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