Specialist trailer builder, The Drake Group, has bid a fond farewell to three long-standing staff members with a collective total of almost 80 years of service to the company.
Aveen Cosgrove started her career with The Drake Group in 1989 and says she couldn’t have asked for a better company to work for.
“I started at Drake’s headquarters, which was at Rocklea (Brisbane), in admin/ reception and at that time there were only 15 guys in the workshop,” Aveen says.
“Over the years I progressed through various roles including accounts, WorkCover, rehab – I was Jill of all trades and master of all.”
According to Aveen, The Drake Group is an outstanding family company and over the 32 years she has worked for three generations of the owners – founder Colin Drake, his son John and grandson Sam.
“To witness the way the company has grown so much in that time – from the small workshop in Rocklea to the sprawling facility we now have at Wacol – has been a real privilege for me,” says Aveen.
“Similarly, the way the designs of the trailers have evolved has been fascinating to watch; and the fact that every trailer that goes out the door is uniquely built to suit each customer’s individual requirements.”
Aveen remarks that in a lot of cases when a customer reorders a trailer it’s not the same as their last, due to the company continually improving its processes and tweaking designs to provide the absolute best products for its customers.
Aveen retired on 14 July this year and hopes to enjoy travelling the world when Covid restrictions lift.
“At the moment I’m taking things day-by-day and getting used to the reality of not going to work anymore – it’s certainly an adjustment process after such a long time,” she says.
Also enjoying his newfound retirement is Ray Ward, who spent 28 years working for The Drake Group in several roles.
“I started off as storeman and later I was put in charge of maintenance of all the workshop equipment including the welding machines and forklifts,” Ray says.
“I really enjoyed working there – it’s like any job, it is as good as you want to make it.”
Ray says there are a lot of good people working there which made the company a pleasant place to be for all those years, and he also has high praise for his former boss, John Drake.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better boss than John,” Ray says.
Ray had been planning to retire in September this year, when he turns 80, but decided to bring his retirement date forward by a couple of months due to needing some work done on his right knee.
And last but by no means least is Steve Collins who has clocked up 19 years of service at The Drake Group.
“I started in 2002 as an assistant in the engineering department and later became Production Manager – a role I managed for 15 years,” Steve says.
“Then I transferred over to the position of Service and Repair Manager, which I’ve done for the last two years.”
Steve explains that the company was quite small when he started compared to the size it is today.
In common with the other retirees, Steve explains that his long tenure with The Drake Group was due in no small part to it being a family-owned company with strong values that were reflected in how fairly the employees were treated.
“I enjoyed working closely with John Drake in engineering when I first started and always found him to be a really good, generous and honest boss,” Steve says – adding, “That’s why I ended up staying there for so long.”
Steve elaborates that one of the tasks he was given in his early years with the company was to document the vast engineering knowledge of Noel Mullins, who along with Colin Drake had been designing and engineering the trailers since 1960, two years after the company was founded.
Colin and Noel would put their heads together and nut out how they were going to build the trailers and then draw up the blueprints with chalk on the workshop floor.
“Noel had been there for ever and one of my jobs was to get the information out of his head and onto paper,” Steve says. “This enabled the business to move forward and grow because more people could utilise the wealth of knowledge Noel possessed.”
As for what the future holds, Steve says he and his wife plan to embark on an epic adventure when they hitch up the caravan to their highly customised Chevrolet Silverado truck with the boat on top and head off for two years of traversing this great country, with a bit of fishing along the way.
The Drake Group wishes the three champion former employees a safe, happy and well-deserved retirement.