Dyson CEO talks new ventures and Irish growth

Max Conze says the firm has tripled in size here

Dyson CEO talks new ventures and Irish growth

Inventor James Dyson with hisbladeless fan in 2009 | Image: Clive Gee/PA Archive/PA Images

Whether you've hoovered a house, dried your hair or washed your hands, you've probably come in contact with a Dyson product.

James Dyson is an art school graduate who became the UK's most famous modern inventor.

His first breakthrough product, the bagless vacuum cleaner, took five years and 5,127 prototypes.

According to Forbes, he now has a net worth of US$4.3bn (€3.9bn).

Dyson's 58 products generated US$2.4bn (€2.19bn) in sales in 2015 - and an estimated $340m (€311m) in net profits.

The different version of the bagless Dyson vaccum | Image: Dyson

Max Conze has been Dyson global CEO since 2011. He sat in the Executive Chair for an exclusive interview with Down to Business.

He says the company has several new areas it wants to conquer.

"We're feeling we're just getting started and our best days are ahead".

"Maybe what keeps us young is we're surrounded by 3,500 young engineers from all around the world - and with them we're working on solving what we think our problems that matter and problems that others ignore".

"We get really frustrated about products that don't work properly - whether it's hairdryers that haven't been re-invented for 30, 40 years - and then we apply technology to make products that are hopefully a lot better to delight people in Ireland and everywhere".

"We're always focused on technology first".

He says the company began investing in digital motors around 20 years ago, which changed how they think.

"In a small format they can generate a lot of power, then you can build a cord free machine around that is battery driven, it's very light, it's very versatile so you don't have to have a clunky big thing - but you get the same or more power.

"And yes, if it also looks nice there's nothing wrong with it - but I think it's first and foremost about using technology to solve the problem at hand."

The Dyson Supersonic hairdryer | Image: Dyson

"To do then kind of problem solving we do, you need to be particular and you need to really have the risk-taking attitude to reinvent all its elements - sometimes that takes a lot of years and a lot of money and a lot of risk".

And Mr Conze says the battery is their next big venture: "We're applying ourselves and a lot of engineering power and investments to batteries because it's a really meaningful problem to solve.

"The world could do with batteries that deliver two to three times the energy density - so that the tools that you used are not cable-bound any longer".

Mr Conze says air quality is also high on his list.

"There's a lot of pollution in the world, it's obvious if you're in China or something - but actually what we found (is) even in places where people think you have clean air, often indoor air can be five times as polluted as outdoor air.

"You look in Ireland, 10% of people in Ireland have asthma or other issues - and so we've developed a range of purifiers".

"Ireland is an important business for us - it's very healthy and very fast growing.

"We've tripled in size in the last three years, we have about 70 people working for us in Dublin and beyond.

"But it's also been a great source of talent."