formally takes the reins as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Leaf Ireland in
2020 as the successful Belfast UK based managed services company expands into
Ireland. Leaf already had several Ireland based customers but since Larry’s
appointment it has seen a rapid acquisition of successful Republic based clients.
been working with DMQ Accountants for the past couple of months. They are a
startup with 6 employees and wanted to outsource all IT.’’ Larry explains. “They
wanted to ensure their systems were secure, so they came to us.’’
client is Mitchell McDermott QS. In this case, the business was well
established with 45 employees. However,
they were unhappy with their current IT provider and asked Leaf, and Larry, to
provide an independent audit. “Again, we went through the set up and made
recommendations on how they could improve efficiencies as well as creating a
secure environment. Sensitive client data required a secure network.”
Leaf with an impressive IT and communications-based resume. Larry had always
been very keen on computers and self-taught himself at a young age. At the age
of 12 his local rural primary school in county Wicklow got its first computer.
He became fascinated with technology and being the practical man that he was
meant he did not go to study computers in college after school but opted for a
hands-on course with Nixdorf in Bray, Co Wicklow. Nixdorf was at the time about the third
largest computer manufacturer in the world and the one-year course was
intensive and very practical.
“It was the equivalent of a diploma despite it only lasting for one year
– in work hours it was nearer to two.” Larry says.
His first job afterwards was at a Fertiliser Plant where he was
assistant to the IT manager. “I was coding updates to their payroll software on
a PDP 11, a computer first sold in the 1970’s then manually saving the backups
on tape reels. You couldn’t get more hands-on than that.”
He moved next to Business Communications, a company that mixed data and
telephony which was ahead of its time in 1992. “It was networks, integration
and advanced technology. I loved it. I studied at night to get a diploma in
Information Technology. I would have stayed there for a long time.”
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And so he would have, only the company changed management and the
organisation split into different divisions. Larry had a choice – stay or set
up on his own. “I was only a young fella, still in my early twenties and my
father said take the chance – you’ve nothing to lose. So I did.”
Netforce was born. It excelled as a managed services company that was, again, very ahead of the curve. For the next 16 years, along-side his business partner Darren Lawlor, Larry fell into the role of co-founder and technical director with ease. ‘We were a pioneer in managed services and worked closely with top brands – migrating into cloud services as the internet matured.’’
supervision, Netforce moved from strength to strength, becoming a strong
Microsoft partner, and in 2006 were one of three companies shortlisted for Best
Microsoft Partner in the world.
After 16 dedicated years in Netforce Larry hit a glass ceiling with expansion as the next logical step. However, Larry and Darren were ready to pass the baton on and sold Netforce to Exigent Networks. Extigent Networks were well equipped to take on the task of expansion, with Larry working alongside them as Head of Managed Services.
significant period at Exigent Networks, family became a priority to Larry, who took
time out of his career to holiday and decide what the next step would be in his
career. It was at this stage that he was approached by Steven Goldblatt, CEO of
Leaf. The two knew each other from sharing work on SonicWall and Microsoft.
a Belfast based IT company, has a client base that covers both the Republic and
the UK, but needed an operational director for the Republic.
in Belfast, Leaf boasts 35 staff who supply and support services to a wide
range of sectors across Northern Ireland and the Republic. The expansion into
Dublin was a natural progression for the company, and Larry, alongside the team
at Leaf, has major plans for the coming years. Initially Leaf Ireland will employ
five people but that is expected to scale significantly to 20 employees in the
coming three years.
Larry is very
excited to be part of the process. ‘’I appreciate a well-thought out corporate
structure and employee support network. I enjoy being hands-on but I also like
being part of an organisation with dedicated software engineers and
programmers. I have big plans for Leaf Ireland and am excited to see where we
can go in the coming months and years.”