Crua Outdoors: From South Africa to Tralee

by Hans Moolman, from Crua Outdoors

When I tell somebody my name for the first time, I am likely to be asked the same four questions—and in this particular order:

  1. “Where are you from, Hans?”
  2. “What brought you here [Ireland]?”
  3. “You must hate the weather?”
  4. “Where do you work?”

The following is the edited version of how 19-year-old me made it half-way across the world from sunny South Africa to picturesque Ireland and ended up working as a software developer at Crua Outdoors, an international seller and manufacturer of premium tents.

Flashback to 1997

After a short spell in a graphic design course after high school, I knew that I wanted to pursue a creative career, but what that career was I did not know yet.

Fast forward a few months, to a sunny September evening in 1997, when my friend and I boarded a plane to fly 6,000 miles to London, England to take a few years out to travel and see the world.

We soon found out that being grown-up is hard. Alone and with very little money, our limited funds quickly ran out and getting a job soon became a priority. We took a series of packing jobs (potatoes, frozen chickens, magazines, meat—we’ve put them all into boxes) before moving to Scotland.

In the Teeth of It

After working in bars and a suit shop, I enrolled in a dental technology course in Edinburgh’s Telford college, and, within three short years, I was a qualified Crown and Bridge Dental Technician. Dental Technology allowed me to be creative and—equally important for me—I now had a formal education. I felt this was the key to the future and would unlock doors for me wherever I went. I was happily employed in Edinburgh as a dental technician for several years before fate decided to spice things up.

“What Brought You to Ireland?”

I met my partner on a night out, as many couples do. She was visiting Scotland while on summer holidays from college in Ireland. That summer is a blur, but before we know it, she had to move back home to Ireland to finish her degree. Head over heels, I soon jumped on a plane to follow her over.

My formal education soon paid off, as it unlocked the door (metaphorically) to a local dental technician’s lab, where I was employed as a crown and bridge technician. But fate again decided to spice things up—from korma to vindaloo—and planted the seed of my next dramatic career U-turn in my head. Before you could say “Wow, that vindaloo is spicy!” I was enrolled in a four-year B.Sc. course in Software Development at the IT Tralee.

From Dental Technology to Development

The first year of the course was very broad and covered a number of facets, but my creative side was naturally drawn to web design.

The excitement of printing my first “Hello, World!” message on the World Wide Web is a feeling I remember to this day.

If my Diploma in Dental Technology was my key to the future, my B.Sc degree in Software Development was my backstage access-all-areas VIP pass to the future! Four years later, I was standing on a stage in a floppy black robe, wearing a square hat and accepting my VIP pass from a very important looking man.

A quick few thoughts on the course:

  • Was it tough? You betcha.
  • Did I ever feel like giving up. Absolutely.
  • Did I quit? NEVER!

Fast forward six years and I was working as a software developer at a rapidly expanding SME called Crua Outdoors in Tralee, Co. Kerry. Crua Outdoors, or Crua to its friends, is the brainchild of founder and CEO, Derek O’Sullivan. A native Kerryman himself, Derek came up with the concept for Crua after spending a cold, wet night camping in a poor-quality tent. Crua’s unique thermally insulated tents were born, and the rest is history.

Living & Working in Kerry

During my varied career, I have worked in everything from one-person operations to multinational organisations. By far the most rewarding and exciting of these experiences has been working for an SME. It sounds cliched, but no two days are the same. Today, I was coding a products page. Tomorrow, I’ll be in a forest, pitching and filming tents for content for the website. It is a very agile environment. Decisions are made quickly, and directions are changed even quicker.

If working for a large multi-national organisation as a software developer is more your thing, Kerry has plenty to choose from in fintech to automotive technology to industrial machinery – and anything in between!

Living and working in Kerry offers me the best of both worlds. I knew I didn’t want to start a family in a big city, and Tralee offers the perfect balance between a major town feel and rural country settings. I am home every evening to tuck my child into bed, rather than spending hours stuck in traffic on the commute home. If it’s a sunny day I can eat my lunch on the nearest beach 10 minutes away from work.

On weekends you can climb Ireland’s highest peak, or walk through some of Ireland’s best national parks, or relax on some of the best beaches in the world—and they have the awards to prove it! Kerry offers you the most spectacular scenery and landscapes found anywhere in Ireland, and some of the friendliest and most welcoming people anywhere in the world.

Advice for People Thinking of Relocating Here?

Speaking to several people who have recently relocated to Kerry from a major city, I hear unanimous agreement: “We can’t believe we didn’t move here sooner.” My advice for someone thinking about moving here is—just do it! If I hadn’t taken that first step all those years ago and boarded a plane for a foreign country, I would not have the life I have now.

Would I be a software developer? Hard to say.

Would I have met my amazing partner and would we have the most adorable little boy? Absolutely not.

So if you’re thinking of making the move to Kerry, my advice would be to just close your eyes and say to fate: “Bring me your spiciest curry please…”

PS: I love the Irish weather.

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