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Criostóir McLaughlin, RIP. Co-Founder and Sales & Marketing Director, Meritec

Criostoir

When you lose a brother, manager, colleague, friend – with no indication of things to come – it’s a shocking event. And when Criostóir, co-founder of Meritec with his brother Ronan, passed away this June 2021, it was hard for us all to comprehend how this could happen.

But after the shock comes reflection and gratitude – we feel lucky that we had the chance to share in the many joys and successes of Criostóirs’ journey.

In fact, Meritec celebrates 25 years in business this year and there have been lots of memories flooding back; we recognise how the commercial success of the company was closely interwoven with the many long-standing personal relationships that Criostóir established over the course of his life.

A keen and highly competitive sportsman, Criostóir played SCT for Pres. Bray initially and then for Blackrock College. He was also selected to play for the Irish Schools Team. Many of the friends he gained through his sporting prowess went on to become valued clients and respected suppliers to Meritec.

The business represented most of Criostóirs’ professional life, having been established in 1996. In the early days, the company was based in Blackrock and both brothers worked across all aspects of the business but as sales grew, they soon realised that there were two main challenges in business – getting work in and getting work out! With his easy charm, wide network of friends and technical expertise, Criostóir was a natural to take on the Sales and Marketing aspects of the company, while Ronan successfully managed systems design and the delivery of projects. It was a good division of labour, that worked for clients and that resulted in the business growing rapidly and expanding into new markets. In the 90’s, presentations were mainly done on large TVs, so the arrival of Portable Projectors, that were both mobile and affordable, was ground-breaking at that time. Soon Meritec became the go-to supplier of projection equipment, securing 30% of the Irish market.

In 2003, the business moved out to Bray to secure more space and in 2009 the company subsequently moved into its existing premises at Kilcoole. Criostóir was at home in Wicklow, where he lived happily with his family, who were very much at the centre of his focus. Keen to share his love of sport with his son, he managed to take Lorcan to two World Cups, most recently travelling to Tokyo on the adventure of a lifetime.

Over the course of 5 or 6 years, from around 2000 to 2006, Criostóir’s drive and energy saw the business pick up pace, aligned with the huge jumps in AV innovation. The introduction of Plasma TVs into the workplace opened many opportunities for Meritec to participate in large-scale projects which involved substantial office fit-outs and complex AV set-ups. Professional displays just kept getting bigger – going from a standard 42” screen in earlier years to 103” displays by around 2009.

From the outset of the business, Criostóir was the master of conventional direct marketing; primarily through direct mail and sales inserts in computer magazines – typically produced at the very last minute, yet somehow never missing a deadline (or none that he’d admit to)!

His affable manner belied a depth of marketing expertise that sustained the business through thick and thin. When the crash happened in 2008, Criostóir worked with Ronan to pivot the sales effort and a focus was put on supplying projection equipment to schools. Meritec was part of the government framework agreement for tech. in schools and ultimately the company installed projectors and interactive whiteboards into about 5,000 classrooms.

Throughout the 25 years that Meritec has been in business, it is a tribute to both Criostóir and Ronan that so many of the employees have worked in the company for over 10 years, in fact many have worked here for 15 years or more. This is a mark of the high esteem that Criostóir was held in by his own team members. It also speaks of the loyalty that Criostóir extended across his commercial relationships; not only to the internal team but to customers, partners, and suppliers alike – some of whom have worked with the business consistently since its foundation, thanks to the value Criostóir put on staying the course with people he respected.

In recent years, Criostóir was quick to embrace new selling techniques too and he transitioned the marketing activity to be mainly digital over the last decade – seamlessly swapping printed inserts and direct mail for email activity and the development of the website. When he oversaw investment in paid ads in Google and other platforms, he kept a clear focus on sales delivered and would ask in good humour for the “short sales story, not the long jargon!”.

Working with our international partners in recent years has been a particularly enjoyable element of our business and Criostoir really enjoyed our interactions and partnerships with friends and colleagues in the PSNI Global Alliance.

While Criostóir’ s competitive spirit was the driving force that saw him grow sales over the years, he maintained his love of sports and the outdoor life to the end – sea swimming, golfing and of course hiking.

While we would have wished that Criostóir got the opportunity to enjoy a long retirement, sadly that didn’t happen. However, the success and longevity of Meritec is the commercial legacy that Criostóir has left behind. His memory is close to our hearts and Ronan and the team look forward to building on Criostóir s achievements into the future, with your continued support.

 

Note

There are many internal team members, clients, commercial partners, and suppliers that we could have highlighted in this reflection however Criostóir s reach was so vast – there literally were too many to mention names. But we really appreciate your part in supporting Criostóir throughout his commercial life and in making it so enjoyable that he spent his last 25 years working with us all happily. He would have shared an easy smile and simply said – thanks.