Peter Bradshaw has thrown himself into developing the family business following the untimely death of his father Ivan eight months ago.
Such was Peter’s determination to ensure the continued success of Drumhoney Holiday Park, he returned to work the day after his father died because he “knew there was that much to do.”

Succession planning is an important consideration for any business, particularly a family run business.

And 30-year-old Peter, who had been a Director of the business for a number of years preceding his father’s death, knew he would take over one day – he just never expected that day to come so soon.
The busy entrepreneur can mainly be found at the Holiday Park outside Lisnarick, but he also heads Enniskillen Auctions with his father-in-law Martin Rutherford.

He is currently overseeing development work at the Holiday Park which was established by his parents 22 years ago.

“Every winter we work on a new project. During the summer you are selling and dealing with your customers. It’s a business where no day is ever the same – it doesn’t become monotonous. Dad loved this business and I always shared his interest,” said Peter.

Comprising of over 130 static caravans, 40 touring caravan sites, 15 log cabins and five camping pods, the site also features amenity blocks with showers and kitchens, picturesque walkways, trout fishing lakes and a play park. Peter is currently developing 14 new static sites, an office block and a 3G football pitch.

READ: Family tribute for tourism trailblazer Ivan Bradshaw

“Dad always maintained that a man who had 10 cows 50 years ago had a good way of life but today he would need 100 cows to do as well – if you don’t keep moving, you are going backwards,” said Peter.
“You miss him but you manage,” he added. “There’s certain times you think: ‘I could have asked dad about that’, or ‘what would dad do?’ This whole place was dad’s life – every day: out early, finish late. So I intend to grow the business as a testament to him.”

Outlining how the business has been performing, Peter said: “We’ve been very good over the past four or five years. Even during the recession we were still kept busy. We were still selling caravans, we were still developing. People still wanted a holiday. Our main customers are families from Northern Ireland with young kids. They don’t want to fly and want somewhere that’s safe and has lots for the kids to do on site.”
He added: “Most of the static sites are privately owned. We were at full capacity last year so that’s why we’ve added the 14 new sites.”

Access to finance stalled somewhat during the recession. Peter recalls: “We were still very busy, we were making money but up until 2012 banks just didn’t want to lend money to anyone. We financed work ourselves but we had bigger plans which we couldn’t take forward. We are now with HSBC who are very good and are very receptive to growth.”

Tourism in Fermanagh “has been very busy,” Peter believes. “The hotels are always busy and we are always busy. I think the tourism stats show that visitor numbers are on the increase. In Fermanagh we have great quality hotels and a good variety of restaurants. If you wanted to get married you have a great range of locations – there’s a good quality offering,” he commented.

There is scope for improvement, according to Peter who recalls the professionalism of the tourism sector in New Zealand and Australia, where he spent some time travelling in his twenties.
“I could walk into a tourism office in New Zealand’s South Island and book and pay for white water rafting in the North Island, got a receipt, turned up and said: ‘Here I am.’ They were so well set up. But they are catering for massive numbers over there,” he commented.

He is constantly asked what activities are available locally and Peter believes “local activity providers could provide better access and better information about their own services.”
He sees a gap in the market for a local tour bus, where a tourist can get on and be brought to three or four different destinations or activities in the county in one day.
“I’ve often thought about doing it myself but I don’t have the time! There are tour buses coming through but they stop at Marble Arch Caves and Belleek Pottery and then they are away.”

One of his main challenges is reaching new customers.
“It’s very difficult to get people to understand what you do and what you provide until you get them standing here to see this place,” said Peter, who continued: “People are now flicking on their phones. You have two seconds to make an impression on someone.
“We have a very good following on facebook – we do well out of it but Instagram is a different beast. Facebook is geared at 30 years and above, people who have started having kids which is our customer base. We don’t particularly want the under 30s who want to party.” 

Another struggle for the young businessman is “thinking of new innovations each year to keep the business moving forward.”
Anecdotally, he believes the local economy is performing “quite well”.
“Hotels are busy, restaurants are busy, people in general are fairly upbeat, houses are being built. We were in a lull for the past 10 years, not because things couldn’t happen, but because people thought they couldn’t happen. It was a negative mindset as much as anything. Now, there’s a lot of young people getting on the property ladder. From speaking to other business people, you hear that a lot of them are busy again.”

Uncertainty around the impact of Brexit and the lack of a Northern Ireland Executive are two areas that need attention, according to Peter.
On Brexit, he notes that it may not affect him in terms of his customer base, however, if it caused a reduction in cross border trade and hit the local retail and restaurant businesses, his customers may not want to come to Fermanagh.
“I don’t want to see a hard Border because Fermanagh is a Border county which very much relies on cross Border trade. Cross Border trade had a massive effect here during the recession because people were coming from the south to spend money in shops. If Fermanagh loses that business and starts to go down hill – if High Street shops start to close – a county with closed shops doesn’t attract as many visitors. It’s unchartered territory. If the Border is open, we will be fine.”

He added: “Enniskillen Auctions would definitely be affected because 50-60 per cent of our business comes from across the Border. It’s a wait and see game. You push to get as many customers from the north as you can, but the reality is that southern guys love auctions. Brexit will not help that business.”

Another concern is the future of public sector jobs. Peter commented: “I have an awful lot of customers who work in the NHS and a lot of civil servants. They have a good steady wage, but with NHS cuts and a lack of certainty for the future of civil service jobs – uncertainty doesn’t encourage anyone to spend money.
“I would encourage the politicians to get back to work for the good of all of Northern Ireland.”

A keen scuba diver, Peter enjoys getting away to Donegal Bay or St. John’s Point when he finds time. He is married to Gail and they have a three-year-old daughter. He is also a member of Enniskillen Round Table.
His advice to other entrepreneurs is: “Unless you really love what you are going to do, don’t start it. The reality is, your heart and soul has to be in it. You have to be first there, last away and you have to work hard at it. When you start a business you think it will take off like a rocket ship as soon as you open the doors but the reality is that it takes years and years for it to develop. You have to crawl before you can walk.”