Noel McMullan, grandson of the founder and Maxol director, with CEO, Brian Donaldson.

Free a Nipper! Bottler's campaign recalled in book on centenary of Maxol company in Ireland

Printing was delayed to allow for a chapter on Maxol’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

Maxol has marked 100 years in business with the launch of a commemorative book charting the 100-year history of the company in Ireland. 'Maxol 1920–2020: Celebrating the First Hundred Years of an Irish Family Company' was compiled and written by historian and author, Turtle Bunbury. A treasure trove of archive material and personal recollections, it is set against a backdrop of historical events including the Second World War, the Suez Crisis and the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Printing of the book was delayed to allow for a chapter on Maxol’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Founded by William McMullan in 1920, Maxol is today a fourth-generation family business.

1920 and the McMullans

It all started 100 years ago when two brothers, William and James Gowan (JG) McMullan exercised their pioneering vision and today, Maxol has retained its title as one of the most forward-thinking and innovative companies of its kind in Ireland. Maxol remains a 100 per cent family-owned Irish company of some 22 shareholders, 21 of whom are third and fourth generation McMullans and one who is married to a McMullan. How many other Irish family companies have managed to celebrate their centenary? The list is a short one.

In 2017, Maxol approached historian and author Turtle Bunbury to write a book to mark the company’s centenary and chart its 100-year history. Grandson of William ‘The Boss’ McMullan and current day director of Maxol, Noel McMullan worked closely with Turtle in compiling the tome that stretches back to the company’s formation and charts its journey to the present day.

The book chronicles the 100-year history of the Maxol business offers a fascinating insight into the people that were instrumental to its growth, including all of the highs and lows that go hand-in-hand with running a family business through four generations. The book explores the successes of a company challenged by world wars, global and national crises, oil crises and political unrest and reflects on the evolution of the company as it moved into the 21st century. There’s also a smattering of nostalgia as the book remembers the much lauded Free a Nipper marketing campaign of 1982, which was fronted by the legendary Brendan Grace, saw 400,000 Nippers ‘freed’ and increased the fortunes of the company by 1100 per cent.

The result, Maxol 1920–2020: Celebrating the First Hundred Years of an Irish Family Company, was a labour of love for Noel McMullan and is a beautifully presented, hardback coffee table-style book of some 260 pages. Printing of the book was delayed to allow for the addition of a chapter on Maxol’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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