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Jonathan Kirwan – CEO Astron

A Short Background:

It all started with my fascination of anything mechanical…

From around the age of 15 I spent a lot of time in a local garage learning about engines and repairs.  In 4th year of school at Presentation College Bray, I brought a full running engine into school as a project.  I had a mini clubman at home.  I dropped the subframe out of the car with the engine still attached.  I wielded the subframe to the base of a cut down Ice cream machine.  I added a fuel tank and a shortened exhaust system.  I put it into our woodwork class with Mr Dillion.  The engine was fully working in the class room with the exhaust sticking out the window.  Mr Dillion and myself also at the time built a  Wooden Rugby Scrum Machine.  We did this at weekends. I suppose you could say at this stage I knew school was not for me, I was very much hands on!

The Next Chapter:

I left school after 4th year when I was 16 and was given an apprenticeship in a local Garage as a mechanic, which I did not complete…

My father was in the Ice cream van business an had started building Ice cream vans, right up my alley and so,  I worked with him doing this.  I spent many years as a coach builder.  I did a lot of work with Fiberglass moulding, woodwork, wielding, etc & would have dealt with Astron 30 years ago getting copper pipes and basic supplies from the previous CEO & founder Tom.

During this time when business was quiet, I worked with an electrician wiring apartments on Francis Street in Dublin.  Through the years I have had numerous jobs in various sectors.  I always remained in the Ice Cream Van business.

In the late 90’s I joined Portobello College as a mature student studying part time for 3 years and achieving an honours degree in Business Studies.

The Turning Point:

It was at this point I  started the Gino’s Gelato brand.  We started Gino’s as you would with 1 shop in Newbridge.  We now have 33 shops.

The key part to my role in Gino’s is in the design and layout of each store.  I am heavily involved in each step of the process.  As our shops are quite small, my design knowledge is essential to basically fitting everything in and keeping the shop flowing and working efficiently.

I used Astron for all our shop fitouts from day 1.  I had a great relationship with Tom and all of the team in Astron.

The Takeover:

In 2022, I was working on the refit of one of my coffee trailers.  While working on the trailer in the Astron workshop, Tom and I got talking about his retirement….One thing led to another and we struck up a mutually beneficial deal, and the rest as they say is history

The Next Chapter For Astron Engineering:

Astron has a super team in place.  Tom through the years focused on high end be spoke salad bars.  Astron were the go to company for this product.  But the team are much more capable of other, bigger ambitious projects.  The Gino’s Gelato counters were a step outside the box for Astron.  The workmanship on the counters and integration for us was world leading.  It was better than I could source in Italy.

My aim for Astron is to totally expand our horizons.  We will always keep the core salad bar manufacturing as a key part of what we do.  But I want to expand the offering.  I want for us all to be working on exciting projects that will stop us becoming a production line.  We want to be able to work alongside refrigeration suppliers and create the look needed to integrate these units into a uniformed professional store fit out.

Astron currently has a team of 9.  We are planning to build a new industrial unit beside the current one.  We will have the capacity to double our production.  We have installed purpose built painting facilities with our own powder coating option shortly.  We have and will continue to invest heavily into machinery and software required for our production.

Gino’s and Ice cream are where my success and bloodline has come from.  But Astron, the engineering and design is also a piece of what I am about.

Astron is from the Greek word meaning Star.

We are going to be the Star of the show in the future.

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