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02nd Jul 2018

Tayto Park boss Ray Coyle reveals the genius idea that saved his career in business

Tony Cuddihy

Ray Coyle Tayto

Ray Coyle is the man behind Mr. Tayto and Tayto Park, and is our guest this week on The Architects of Business, our new show in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™.

Ray Coyle is one of Ireland’s most iconic businessmen.

The former Meath farmer started out by growing the potatoes that would become Tayto crisps in 1980. A year later, when he lost that contract and got into a situation where he owed the bank £1.2m, he came up with an ingenious solution to claw back the money and have enough left over to start his own business.

He would raffle off his farm.

“I saw a guy down in Wexford raffling a boat, a 12-foot boat, I think it was 10 shillings at the time – with 50 or 60 people in it. I thought, on the way back, I was driving a lorry on the way back, ‘if he can raffle a boat I’ll raffle a farm’,” he told host Tadhg Enright on The Architects of Business, JOE’s new show in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™.

“So we got legal advice and all the rest of it, Coopers & Lybrand at the time were the auditors and the solicitors held the money and we came up with the idea – which we’d sell ourselves – 4,000 tickets at £300 a ticket.”

Ray would go on to form Largo Foods, the company that would ultimately take over Tayto Crisps in 2006 and create a theme park – Tayto Park – just 200 yards from where its Founder grew up in Ashbourne.

In a wide-ranging interview that paints a fascinating picture of what it means to be at the head of one of Ireland’s most famous food brands, Ray also talks about the challenges he’s faced during his career and his pride at seeing his passion project open to the public in 2011.

The Architects of Business, brought to you in partnership with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ , is available every Monday morning on iTunes, SoundCloud and YouTube