Photography by Norman R Wright & Sons/Rivergate
This will be the fourth location for Norman R Wright & Sons in its history: Newstead (1909-1936); Quay St, Bulimba (1936-1989); and Byron St, Bulimba (1989-2016).
Bill and Ian Wright, the grandsons of the founder Norman Wright, are at the helm today.
Their father Ron was the first graduate in naval architecture from the University of Queensland.
From traditional wooden boats, many of which are Australian icons – ferries, schooners, fishing vessels, the classic Fairmiles, which were used as patrol boats during WWII, then refitted as ferries, and racing skiffs – Norman R Wright & Sons moved into composite construction and secured work for the luxury charter market, government, Police and Royal Australian Navy.
Reinvention has always been the key to success for this stalwart marine business. Today, the company prides itself on being adaptable and responsive to suit every level of the market, applying the skills of their 45-strong workforce – comprising boat builders, painters, cabinet makers, designers and engineers – to refit/rebuild work and custom projects to order.
“Each generation has been passionate about what they do,” said Ian. “We’ve always had an in-house design capability, which is an advantage in this competitive global market.”
Tony Riek, co-director and soon to be Managing Director at Norman Wright & Sons is looking forward to settling in to the purpose-built premises.
At 40m x 25m x 13m, the new shed is smaller than the company’s previous facilities, but “modern, better laid out, with hardstand, more usable space and more flexibility”, according to Riek.
A mechanical engineer by trade with a background in the marine and mining industries, Riek said Rivergate’s facilities, including on-site trades, 75 and 300 tonne travelifts and slipways will free up the company to focus on the next phase of its growth.
“We are anticipating more efficiency and better access to subcontractors,” he said. “The experts at Rivergate handle the travelifts, they wash the boats and deliver them to our sheds.
“There is mutual benefit being part of Rivergate. We plan to bring more business to Rivergate and in turn, hope to benefit from the concentration of marine businesses at Rivergate for flow-on business.
“It will be wonderful to work from our nice big shed, with deep water access and so many marine professionals in one place.”
One such business located at Rivergate is Lex Baddiley Marine Engineering, which like Norman Wright & Son has been in operation since 1909.
“We have a long history of successful collaboration with Baddileys – three generations working together over 100 years,” said Riek. “Adding our expertise to the mix means Rivergate is a one-stop shop for all kinds of boating – recreational, commercial, defense and superyachts.”
Rivergate General Manager, Andrew Cannon said Rivergate was particularly proud to welcome Norman Wright & Sons to the precinct. “108 years in business is testament to the quality, ingenuity and ethics of the company. It’s a remarkable achievement. We are eager to see what the next century delivers in terms of innovation and collaboration among the businesses at Rivergate, renowned worldwide for top-level service, skills and can-do approach.”