Here in the careers pages of Irish Country Living, we often ask people about their college days. Jack O’Hare experienced University College Cork (UCC) during the 70s. Leaving the home farm, a small dairy unit in Millstreet, Co Cork, he decided to study dairy science. Looking back, he says, “It was a great course, in a way it was a lot broader than the degree course because you touched on different things including dairy chemistry, engineering, mathematics and accounting. It was very practical and there was only 22 of us in the class.”

Like many agricultural students these days, he did his practical placement with Kerry Co-op. “I was working in the milk intake across a few different branches covering holidays for branch managers.”

This was a solid start for a man who is now managing director of Adesco, having spent 45 years working in Ireland’s feed industry.

Feeding an interest

In 1979, Jack started his career in the Waterford Co-operative Society, moving up the ranks to a senior management role in their feed mill operations. “They merged with Avonmore, becoming AWG initially, then forming Glanbia,” says Jack. “When that happened, I decided I didn’t want to stay with the new entities so I took my chances and went out on my own. I then did some contract work with other feed mills around the country.”

In 2001, he met Mike McDonough, who was presenting an optimisation programme for Kemin Industries to one of Jack’s customers.

“I was working freelance and said to him, ‘If you ever want anybody to help you out, my background was feed milling’,” says Jack. It wasn’t long before he was getting contract work with Kemin. When they offered him a full-time job, his daughter was just starting college.

“I decided a little bit of security would be good,” he says. “I joined Michael as technical support manager for the feed, mill and grain business.” However, in order to serve customers better, the pair decided to set up their own business. After negotiations with Kemin, it was agreed they would be given the exclusive distributorship in Ireland.

Tom Burns with Jack O Hare.

Family business

Adesco was founded in 2006, and the company has since grown into a successful local enterprise business. ’Our people, our philosophy and our products’ is a motto Jack has continued to work and live by over the years. The people are the customers at the other side of the table. The philosophy is trust, family and truthfulness. The products are always market lead and dependent on customer needs.

Family remains at the core of the business, which is reflected in the name Adesco. “I came up with the name because I have four kids and Mike has two. The name is made up of the first letter of the six children’s names – Aine, David, Eoin, Sean, Cullen and Orla. For me, it epitomises that this is a small family business.”

Jack O'Hara.

The hardest challenge for Jack was when his business partner Mike McDonough died suddenly in January 2014. “His energy and passion for Adesco stands as an inspiration for us all,” says Jack. “I believe this dedication to our customers is a huge influence on maintaining our reputation as a quality supplier.”

Jack took over the business in 2016, opening an office in the Dungarvan Enterprise Centre. Working with grain processors and feed producers, Adesco has a loyal customer base with 80 customers in total. The advanced solutions provided by Adesco centre around three key areas.

1. Grain and bean solutions

The grain preservation programme is an alternative to the drying of grain, barley, wheat, oats, beans and pulses. “It’s topical at the minute because it’s very sustainable, we’re eliminating the use of fossil fuels,” says Jack. The product is a surfactant called MycoCURB BNS liquid that has a dual preservation action against moulds. It maximises the value of raw materials whilst economically protecting against mould growth post-processing. There is cost savings upwards of €10/t as an alternative to drying at harvest.

2. Milling solutions

The inline SMARTmilling technology and mill process simultaneously protect finish feed while increasing stock yield. “We work with feed mills to optimise our process between moisture optimisation, energy optimisation, carbon reduction,” says Jack.

3. Feed hygiene solutions

With an increasing focus on Total Entero Count (TEC) in feed and feed raw materials, Adesco give advice and supply products, that helps the process. “We call that conditioning – the better the meal is conditioned, the easier it goes through a pellet press and the faster it will go through while still maintaining quality. You’re optimising the moisture, reducing the energy usage, the use of steam and the kilowatt hours per tonne.”

Valuable research

The company has invested over €500,000 in R&D to improve its processes.

“In 2020, we took on a PhD student, Shane Maher, for four years, funded by the Science Foundation of Ireland, BiOrbic and working in UCD,” says Jack. “Up to 14,000 pigs have been monitored and the results from that are phenomenal, in regards to performance over dried traditional grain.”

With two papers submitted, Shane will join the company full-time when he is finished his research next January.

For Jack, sustainability is huge. He knows the industry has an issue to address in increasing sustainable production and reducing carbon footprint but in his opinion, there is an imbalance of people lobbying for the sector, which he finds frustrating.

“The agricultural industry is the bad boy in the world at the minute,” he says. “We have cows going around belching in the field, doing all the harm but (the dialogue) is there’s no harm being done by airplanes or the cars going up and down the road with only one person in it.”

Local business needs

With seven people employed full-time, the company is supported by the Local Enterprise Office. “Over the years they have been massively approachable,” says Jack. “Local Enterprise has helped us collaborate with universities, as we are no longer a new business. They are still offering support and have helped with funding particularly in the development of technology – they have been very good to us.

A challenge from the environmental side is not knowing where grain is going to be in the next five years. “We’ve had some great years in grain and then all of a sudden you have bad years. There is a good bit of uncertainty around the agri sector in general, but there have always been challenges. You just have to sit back, take stock of where we are and see what else you might be able to do.”

Jack O'Hara.


Jack is starting to take a step back and hand over responsibilities to his son Sean, who has worked in the company for over seven years. “I am 65 years old, I started working 45 years ago,” says Jack. “It’s time for me to let the younger brains do it. Sean will do things differently, but going forward I am very confident that he will bring a new angle.”

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