What is your role at Norman R. Wright & Sons?
My role as Projects Foreman means I coordinate the trades for the new builds and oversee the day to day activities of those teams and team members.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
Basically my brother and I did our Boat Building Apprenticeships at Wrights directly out of High School. It was quite fun doing it together as we would compare notes after each day and discuss what we had learned. After I completed my apprenticeship I stayed for a further 10 years before moving to a recreational catamaran builder where I was the foreman building the plugs and molds. I was there for 5.5 years until the GFC hit and unfortunately that business folded. At that time Ian Wright rang me as he heard we had been doing infusion techniques and he asked if I would like to come back to Wrights to work on infused parts for 5 City Cats they were building at the time. Over time we started building more parts using infusion including hard tops etc.
What’s the most exciting or rewarding project you have worked on and why?
The first time I got to work on a boat from start to finish was really rewarding for me. It was a little cray boat that I worked on with Ian Eastgate called Nevallens Pride. She was 25-30 foot long with a small cabin and open deck and a single Volvo engine, she went to WA. I basically worked on that boat from the loft floor through to placing her on the truck to WA.
How have you seen boat building change over the years?
Most of my experience over the years has been with bending timber or laminating. Now we’re seeing most construction methods moving to Aluminium fabrication or the use of composites. We recently built a bespoke timber staircase that involved a lot of timber bending, which was great to do again and to also teach the young guys.
How has Norman R Wright & Sons changed over the years since you have been with the business?
In the early days tradies didn’t want to share their skills or tricks, but these days I find they are all happy to share their knowledge and experience which is great. In terms of materials we used to have one timber glue, but now we have a whole range of different adhesives for different applications, which is for the better. And in terms of tools, we would only ever have a single power drill between us but now there are full sets of power tools for everyone to use. Safety has changed a lot too as we used to only have a single plank when working on the exterior of a boat but now we have 3 planks and scaffold, plus a lot more safety gear and processes, particularly when using power tools. Years ago we never used to get the chance to go for a run on the boats or very few of us did. Nowadays we make an effort to ensure that every team members gets a chance to do a run on every new build, so you can see, hear and feel the boat with the opportunity to go right over it.
What has been the highlight of your career with Norman R. Wright & Sons?
Whistler would be the highlight on my time at NRW. Once again I had the opportunity to work on her from start to finish and I actually finished my apprenticeship during the build. I was actually building the hull mould and hurt my hand so I had to move to the veneering team where I could use my other hand.
I’ve also really enjoyed the promotions I have received over the years. You always get a great feeling knowing that you are recognised and rewarded for your efforts, and we have a really good team too.