From sleepless nights to dreams coming true!

This week Pauline & Gerry Naughton reflected on twenty successful and eventful years at P&G Cards.    This fantastic success story has its unlikely origins in the health cutbacks which beset this country in the late 1980’s. Co. Longford native Pauline, then a nurse in Roscommon Hospital, saw her ‘hours’ reduced because of the cutbacks. Pauline’s husband Gerry, a native of Clooneyourish, Athleague, was then a Garda based in Co. Longford.    Against the background of health cutbacks and employment uncertainty, Pauline decided to leave nursing. Her sister and brother-in-law were involved in a  newsagency business in Longford and from speaking to them Pauline identified a possible business opportunity. ‘I was surprised to discover that there wasn’t any Irish company involved in supplying greeting cards’ she reflects  now.    A few months after leaving nursing, Pauline took a tentative step into the unknown. She set up P&G Cards – ‘P’ and ‘G’ being the initials of the couple’s first names. Looking back, Pauline and Gerry admit that it was a very daunting undertaking. They had a small family and no business experience. Gerry was still working as a Garda in Longford.    Half the family garage was taken over as office space. ‘I started with a phone and a box of cards’ says Pauline.   Initially Pauline bought cards from a single wholesaler before gradually building the company up and developing new contacts (both publishers and customers).    The early years were tough. Gerry speaks of a constant cycle of long days and nights at work in the ever-expanding premises. Holidays were a luxury that couldn’t be comtemplated. It was tough going. ‘There were a lot of sleepless nights. We had no business background, so we self-educated, you could say. Roscommon Enterprise Board were a great help to us too.’    ‘The kids were great cooks’ quips Pauline as she reflects on those hectic early years.     The struggles at the outset have certainly paid off. As they celebrate twenty years in business, what do Gerry and Pauline hope the future holds for P&G Cards?    The strategy will be to continue to develop a range of strong, unique and contemporary greeting cards of quality and original modern design with global appeal for sale in Ireland and key international markets.    Export is the new ‘buzzword.’ In the near future P&G will aim to make a major onslaught on the export market, with Portugal and Southern Spain possible favoured destinations.    Pauline believes there is a market in Portugal for P&G Cards, explaining her rationale. ‘The people are quite like the Irish, they are Catholic-orientated. Our confirmation and communion cards are in demand as they are unique’.    Niche markets such as in the area of St. Patrick’s Day cards will be concentrated upon as they have obvious international appeal.    It looks likely that the future will be very bright indeed for P&G Cards. They will stick to their customer care philosophy, increase the design aspect of the business and explore the export potential they have identified.    It’s been quite a journey for Gerry & Pauline and their five children, Aishling, Michelle, Edel, Grace and James.   It all started with two people in ‘half a garage.’ It has moved on to 31 permanent staff in a 16,000 square foot premises. The gamble, the step into the unknown, has worked out well for Gerry and Pauline.    They have no plans to move from Athleague, taking pride in the fact that it has been possible to maintain such a big business in an area so close to their hearts.    ‘We would hope that we won’t have to move in future. It’s a good location, always has been. After all, it’s the centre of Ireland!’ says Gerry.     So, with all those milestone events we all encounter in a given year, do this husband and wife team send one another the appropriate cards?    ‘Yes, but never our own P&G cards’ insists Pauline with a smile!