Team Member Profile – Percy Leong – Master Boat Builder

It’s great that we get the opportunity to share some of our history from the eyes and experiences of those who have been with us for a very long time. Percy Leong is one of our longest serving Tradesmen and he can share a lot of history of the yard, the evolving boat building processes and the boat building trade in general. Skills and knowledge that is graciously passed on to our Apprentices today so that history and skillset isn’t lost.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I grew up in Brisbane and didn’t really enjoy school so Dad said if I wasn’t going to go to school I had to find a job. I really enjoyed woodwork so a neighbour told me to go and see the NRW Foreman at the time Billy Anderson and he gave me a job. It was an easy decision at the time.

How long have you been at Norman R Wright & Sons?

I started my career at NRW in 1973 and it was shortly after that we experienced the big floods of 1974. I remember we were all up all night at the peak of the floods with 3 boats in the slips. Very nervous times but it all ended up okay.

How have you seen boat building change over the year?

When I first started there was no fibreglass or composites, all boats were built out of timber. So it was great to learn how to bend timber around corners etc. Then over time people started asking for fibreglass so we all had to learn a new way to build the boats. Timber is still better in my opinion.

How has Norman R Wright & Sons changed over the years?

It still feels the same apart from having to adapt to building new types of boats, using different types of materials and processes. Fortunately we still get to work on a lot of our original timber builds, which requires the original timber boat building skills.

What has been the highlight of your career?

The boat christenings are always a great time and I especially enjoyed working on Laura J, when we finished her the owners put on a full sit down meal for us all as a thank you.

What do you see as the benefits for clients who choose to build or undertake maintenance of their boat with NRW?

Our Tradesmen still apply old school methods, particularly important when working on older timber boats, so the clients know they have the right people for the job. Each and every team member also takes pride in the quality of their workmanship and that can be seen in boats we may have built many years ago through boats we build and maintain today.

Bill Wright designs a beautiful boat and our team build beautiful boats, I think that’s why people keep coming back to us.


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