Founded in 1985 as an electrical contracting company by Tony Clarke, AJC Group has since grown and diversified into a market-leading lighting and electrical services specialist with a nationwide reputation for technical excellence and family values. We find out more about the group and speak to co-Director Declan Murdock, who shares an insight into what makes AJC shine and why it deserves the title of Most Outstanding Festive Lighting Specialists, 2020 – UK
For more than thirty-five years, Ireland’s biggest festive lighting installer, AJC Group, has been illuminating town centres and tourist destinations across the UK and Ireland with magical lighting displays that create unforgettable moments. Inviting warmth and excitement into events and spaces on even the coldest winter nights, AJC’s team of seasoned experts in design and installation are experienced in creating environments that inspire and invoke a sense of wonder in visitors of all ages.
Formed in 1985 as an electrical contracting company by Tony Clarke, AJC has seen a great deal of growth over the past three decades. Still a family-run enterprise headed by Tony and Michael Clarke and fellow Director, Declan Murdock, AJC’s electrical contracting services complement the group’s award-winning specialism in festive lighting. Offering full, in-house lighting scheme services that encompass concept, design, manufacture, installation, removal and storage, AJC does not rely on any third parties or sub-contractors. Instead, clients are able to trust in the AJC team to carry out every project from start to finish with meticulous care.
AJC works with BIDs, centre management companies, councils and the general public to create bespoke lighting displays for a broad spectrum of projects. Whether it be for a town centre, retail area, hospitality establishment or event, AJC’s multi-faceted team are able to design showstopping light displays that match the wildest imaginings of their clients, bringing every element of their vision to life with precision, technical excellence and just a touch of wizardry. For AJC, the possibilities are endless. Empowered by innovation in design and engineering, AJC is constantly pushing the boundaries to create its next world-class display, aspiring for creations that are so fantastical they are out of this world.
AJC Illuminations was created in 2017 when AJC established itself as a multidimensional group providing services in lighting and electrical contracting. AJC Illuminations is a dedicated creative hub of lighting solutions and themed displays for a myriad of occasions and retail or public spaces. Unsurprisingly, the team truly comes into its own during the festive period, sprinkling locations across the UK and Ireland with the magical, twinkling lights that are so vital to an ambiance of Christmas cheer.
From dazzling canopies to showstopping store fronts to entire winter wonderlands, AJC knows how to make festive settings that would make even Santa’s elves jealous! Having installed the UK’s largest digital LED Christmas tree at over 20 metres tall at Christmas Tree World in Bournemouth, and provided lighting schemes for prestigious landmarks such as The Shard in London, AJC Illuminations has earned its well-deserved reputation as the best in the industry.
The creation of these vast, often complex lighting displays is by no means an easy feat. AJC’s team of technicians and installers oversee every stage of each project to ensure seamless, safe and reliable delivery of all of their creative solutions in bespoke services. The graphic design team begins by collaborating with clients to establish the vision for a project, giving clients total control over what the finished product will look like by discussing every element of the design, from colour schemes to scale of projects.
Once plans are confirmed by the design team and clients, it is over to the technical team to engineer and manufacture all the elements of the project. Ensuring the structures meet and surpass regulations, the AJC team also factors in the immediate loads and any demanding weather conditions that may impact the scheme, and ensures every structure is constructed and tested rigorously to deliver outstanding finished products. For AJC, the bigger the better, and as a result, AJC’s manufacturing team has achieved some monumental constructions, including the UK’s longest walk-through digital RGB tunnel that measured a staggering 100 metres, and the UK’s longest sound to light sky canopy as well.
The construction team then relies on AJC’s installers to put the many elements they have created together on site. As with any construction or installation project, safety and best practice are the priority. AJC works with site managers to facilitate the required permissions for installation and access, as well as carrying out risk assessments and close site management. The team is also on hand to run project management and repairs throughout the event where necessary, and can carry out Portable Appliance Testing of all elements once installed to ensure projects are aligned with current legislation.
Once the event has ended, AJC will return to the site to remove the lighting schemes, ensuring the site is left just as it was found. When the lighting is not in use, clients are able to store it in AJC’s warehouse for a small fee, where it will be fully insured, photographed, tagged on arrival and dry stored in alarmed and CCTV-covered premises, safe and protected until their next use.
Whilst AJC may now be known across the UK and Ireland for its exceptional lighting displays, its roots remain in electrical contracting services. Since its inception, AJC has built long-term relationships with a broad clientele that relies on the team for a myriad of electrical services. From installing floodlights and hinged lighting columns for Dundela Football Club to complete electrical fit outs of various sites of the Caffè Nero brand across the UK and Ireland, AJC is on hand to offer all the electrical contracting required to keep businesses running smoothly.
Moreover, as part of the Euronics Buying Group, AJC Electrical Newcastle is a retailer and wholesaler of a large selection of white goods, from cookers and refrigerators to a myriad of built-in appliances. The shop also supplies home entertainment systems and products including LED and Smart televisions, WIFI and Bluetooth speakers and surround sound systems, and other smart home solutions.
In addition, AJC Group employs its teams and expertise in both illuminations and electrical contracting to deliver event production services for conferences, seminars and live events. Clients are able to benefit from technical support in staging, AV, lighting and more to create truly unforgettable events. These include the illumination of landmarks in the rumoured burial place of St Patrick, Downpatrick, in celebration of the saint’s festival, a bespoke inaugural fashion show, and an enchanted winter garden that has welcomed guests to Antrim’s Castle Gardens year after year. These wonderful, memorable events could only be achieved by the cohesive blend of technical engineering skill and whimsical creativity that AJC has become synonymous with across the UK and Ireland.
As AJC Group has grown over the years, its goals and targets may have changed, but its client-centric approach has remained consistent. “Our customers mean everything to us and our bespoke service sees our clients returning to us, time after time,” says co-Director, Declan Murdock. “For this reason, we are truly unique in our approach to creative solutions.”
By putting its customers at the centre of its focus, AJC has seen remarkable retention of clients and their business over the years, with many of them referring the group’s service to others as well. As such, AJC invests heavily in its customer service team, ensuring that the team meets and exceeds expectations in every element of the service, adhering to creative directives and budgets and answering all queries and demands effectively and efficiently. From its offices in Downpatrick, London and Perth, AJC dedicates itself to building sustainable, trusting relationships with its clients based on open and honest communication.
As a result, the clientele that has been accrued over the past thirty-five years is now vast, with many clients returning each year and relying on AJC to bring their creative visions to life on time and on budget once more. Yet the AJC team is not one to rest on its laurels and be satisfied with everything that it has achieved so far.
“We have a vast existing client base, but we also have a dedicated sales teams to answer queries from our current client base and to contact new clients,” says Declan. “Our products and services are known throughout the UK and Ireland, giving us as a company an advantage as customers will contact us directly for our services having seen our previous work and recognising that no other company offers services like ours.”
AJC is committed to maintaining the high standards that it has become so celebrated for, and as such, invests time and resources into its team. “As AJC is a family-run business, we keep that culture within our business,” Declan tells us. “We all collaborate together on projects so that everyone is involved in the process.” As a result, there is a sense of shared pride across AJC, which sees every member of the team committed to their own personal development in order to contribute to the firm’s overall evolution. Regular staff training and incentive programmes enhance the culture of growth that forms the core values of AJC, and is an essential attribute in any additions to the team.
Recruitment is consequently a rigorous process in which candidates are verified to have the same drive and self-discipline as the rest of the high calibre team, and are onboarded through a programme of training that ensures every team member, whether have been with the team for a year or thirty-five, upholds the same standards for excellence.
The strength of the AJC team has rarely been so clear or so necessary than in the last year, which has seen a myriad of risks and challenges in everything from Brexit to the Covid-19 crisis. Despite such adversities, AJC has also been faced with a sizeable but exciting challenge in managing its phenomenal growth, which has been driven predominantly by the increased demand for outdoor events that are more ‘Covid-friendly’. AJC has adapted to accommodate its growth, implementing new systems and doubling down on its existing client base, as well as offering cutting-edge industry training for its teams to boost their skills even further. As such, many of the challenges that have confronted AJC over the last year have paled in comparison to its primary mission: to give their clients something amazing.
To that end, AJC is putting plans in place for the year ahead that will enable the group to continue doing what it does best, stabilising the business in the current economic climates and facilitating steady growth and development. In doing so, AJC will continue to honour its commitment to its customers and the population of the UK and Ireland to deliver inimitable electrical services and stunning lighting schemes that will dazzle and amaze, creating wonderful memories that will be cherished for many lifetimes.
For more information, contact Declan Murdock at AJC Group Ltd.