Plough Inn

Derek Patterson, The Plough Inn

"The training saved the business; it’s that simple. We now have direction and focus but more importantly the family business is much stronger. If you are an SME and need training then if I were you, I’d look no further than DEL’s ‘Made Not Born’ programme. ”

Sector Food Sector
Location Hillsborough
Employees 85 Full & Part Time Staff
Status MLDP programme participants
Key Results Defined business strategy
Greater definition of job roles


When you think about Northern Ireland’s food and drink industry you probably can recall a few top restaurants, and the Plough Inn, Hillsborough is surely one of them.

Established in 1982, the Plough Inn is managed by Derek, William and Richard Patterson and has gone from strength-to-strength. Its premises have been extended to bring visitors to the Hillsborough site a unique cafe culture, high quality gastro cuisine and a venue that caters to the needs of a wider community, regardless of age.

Derek Patterson in The Plough InnThe business continues to grow and today it incorporates the Pheasant restaurant in Annahilt and the Tannery bar and grill in Moira. Despite this success it was clear to Derek that there were obvious business issues which needed to be addressed if the restaurants were to continue to flourish.


While from the outside looking in, the business seemed like it was running smoothly, but I knew strategic decisions needed to be taken, particularly in regard to the management and direction of the business” explains Derek.

As a trained chef I had spent a large part of my early career travelling the world and working in some of the best managed entertainment venues in the World.

I’m not sure what it was about the email that made me look, maybe it was the design or the name of the campaign, but I opened it and what I read really clicked with me” explains Derek.

Derek attended the event, and while initially he wasn’t sure what he would get out of it, by the time it had finished he knew that ‘Made Not Born’ was exactly what the business needed.

I took the opportunity to speak at the event – to be honest it was a plea for help! I explained my situation and asked what I should do. A member of the DEL Management and Leadership Team approached me and discussed the types of training options that were available under the ‘Made Not Born’ banner. I knew each would work for me and I was sold, but I knew that it meant nothing if I couldn’t get my brothers to support me.”

After the event Derek spoke to his brothers and encouraged them to attend the next ‘Made Not Born’ event. While the event wasn’t necessarily the eureka moment for the business, it certainly made us pause, reflex and collectively decide that the types of training being offered by DEL was what we needed”, explains Derek.

Soon after this Derek made contact with DEL and discussed his business’ needs in greater depth. The ‘Made Not Born’ team listened to the requirements of the business, analysed its needs and recommended to Derek and his brothers the training programmes that they believed best suited the business.

It was recommended that the Management Leadership Development Programme (MLDP) would be the most appropriate training solutions for the business.

Derek enjoying coffee served by a member of his staffDerek and his brothers began the MLDP training. Much more strategic in its content, the MLDP allowed for a greater focus to be placed on business growth.

For Derek one of the best elements of the training was the personality profiling. This was a real eye opener and helped to identify our strengths, and specific roles and key responsibilities of each partner - while at the same time helping to create a structure to the business.”

THE RESULTS: A Recipe for Success!

As a business, Derek and his brothers believe that while there is still a lot of work to be done there is much to be proud of. Before we started the ‘Made Not Born’ training our business was just surviving. We had no business plan in place and little in the way of strategic management - tensions around the boardroom table were growing. We were not in a good place.

However, and as a direct result of DEL’s training we are now much more in control of the business. We are more structured, our staff are more aware of their roles and I think we are acting much more like a team."

So would Derek recommend ‘Made Not Born’? – In a heartbeat. The training saved the business; it is that simple says Derek. We now have direction and focus, but more importantly the family relationship is much stronger. If you are an SME and need training then if I were you I’d look no further then DEL’s ‘Made Not Born’ programme

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Made Not Born - Developing Northern Irelands Leaders and Managers