Latest Cover Story: McKinstry – More Than Just a Skip Hire Company

Originally established as a waste disposal company, McKinstry is more than just about skip hire; it is one of our leading waste management and recycling specialists, and it also operates a highly successful and rapidly growing biomass division.e.

Indeed, it is a Northern Ireland success story that encompasses family values, a focused business strategy, continual investment, a fully committed workforce and a management team that leads from the front.

Founded four decades ago by Albert McKinstry, the company today is headed up by his sons Darren and Mark, and with Darren’s son Bradley recently coming on board, it has become a third generation family affair with its focus firmly set on the future. (Mark & Darren McKinstry with their late father Albert McKinstry)

Teamwork is at the heart of all McKinstry operations and over the last 24 months the company has been developing a very deliberate strategy to build on its continuing successes, bringing in new key professionals to strengthen its infrastructure and enhance its technical expertise.

“Mark and I are very fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated team to support and contribute to our growth,” says Darren McKinstry. “In recent years our industry has become more complex so we have had to be more innovative to keep ahead of those developments, and that has required significant investment in both people and plant.

“At the end of 2014 we had an extensive review of our operation and decided to focus on our areas of expertise – logistics, waste collection, commodity sales and biomass.”

That investment has included bringing in world-class IT platforms in administration,finance and logistics, and the establishment of a new purpose built group Head Office which opened in November 2016 and which has allowed McKinstry’s to improve internal support and efficiency. But progress doesn’t stop there.

“Although we have established three separate divisions, it can often be confusing for the market who perceives us as just a skip hire business,” explains Darren, “but in the second half of the year we will be launching a group rebranding to support our Biomass and Waste Services divisions.”

Employing over 100 people, McKinstry’ s currently operate from three waste management locations across Northern Ireland: a modern and efficient Materials Recovery Facility on a four acre site at Nutts Corner in County Antrim; a centrally located Waste Transfer facility on the Northern Road in the heart of Belfast docks; and a Wood Recycling / Recovery facility in Newry.

There is no doubt the company has worked hard to become a leader within the waste management and commodity recovery sectors, as well as focusing on growing the biomass division..

The company has made significant investment in the last 12 months in its Material Recovery facility, in its 70-strong modern fleet of specialist vehicles, including walking floor trailers and skip loaders, and in its diverse plant and machinery, all of which are repaired, maintained and serviced in the company’s own on-site workshops which has also seen substantial investment in recent times.

It has also implemented an Integrated Management System, consisting of three
top international health & safety, quality management and environmental accreditations – ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001 – and, as we mentioned, it has built a strong and dedicated workforce.


(John Steen, Louise Simpson, Julie Christie, Chloe Thompson, Mathew Amos, Gary Higgins, Valerie Beggs, Ann McKenna and Graeme Reid.)

Expansion over the years has not just happened organically through sheer hard work and determination, but also by making a number of strategic acquisitions, more recently taking over the skip operations of MT Waste in Armagh and JM Skips in Ballygowan.
Strategically, it has focused heavily on developing strong working relationships with local suppliers and with major players like Stobbarts with whom it enjoys an exclusive Northern Ireland partnership agreement.

All of the company’s facilities are also ‘open’ to planned visits from local schools, colleges and university students studying environmental subjects, while management works closely with a number of schools, conducting waste management and recycling presentations.

Award Winning
It is also a richly recognised company, having won Ireland’s top Recycling Industry Award two years in succession at the annual Sustainable Ireland Awards, as well as winning the Waste Management & Environmental Excellence Award.

In addition, it has received a top award from the Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey which each year attracts some 250 organisations from 15 different sectors, including the top 200 companies and leading public sector organisations. As first time participants, the company was ranked in Quintile 1 – only Platinum is higher.

The company has also been appointed Ambassadors for the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum for Northern Ireland (WISHNI); the awards programme provides recognition of the safety management activity of WISHNI partner businesses within their own companies and with their subcontractors.

The planned growth and investment will enable the group to maximise opportunities in the future, with some exciting projects in the pipeline which will significantly enlarge the group both in scale and capacity.