With deep sadness, The Drake Group has announced the passing of long-term employee and friend, Noel ‘Mick’ Mullins, who worked for the company between 1960 and 2007.
After a brave battle with various forms of cancer in recent years, Noel passed away peacefully on Sunday 7 March, aged 84.
Noel was born at Warwick and lived most of his life in Queensland. He was educated at St James College in Brisbane and then completed a boilermaker/ fitter and turner apprenticeship, also in Brisbane.
After Noel and his wife Lorraine were married, he landed a job in the sand mines at Cabarita and Kingscliff, just over the border in New South Wales, where he worked for a few years.
One of Noel and Lorraine’s daughters, Jay Lees, recalls that her father started working for Drake Trailers founder Colin Drake in 1960, just two years after the company’s inception.
“I was just a baby when he started with Drake Trailers,” Jay said. “Once he landed at Drake he had no intentions of ever leaving.”
Jay said her father had an innate flair for engineering which made him a natural fit for a company like Drake Trailers.
“If he wanted to build something, he never had any plans or blueprints – he would just do it straight from his head.
“He built horse floats for us when we were growing up and doing the show circuits, again straight out of his head. He had the foresight to see how things would turn out before they’d actually been made. He didn’t need a plan, he would look at something and say, ‘that’s not going to work’, or ‘yeah, that’ll work’ – he just knew.”
According to Jay, there was nothing he wouldn’t do for the four daughters and two sons he and Lorraine had.
“When he started with Drake he was also driving cabs so he could pay for our private education,” she said.
“He would do anything for anyone – it didn’t matter who you were, you were always welcome.”
Sharing his recollections of Noel, The Drake Group owner and son of Colin, John Drake, said he was a man of integrity and extremely capable in terms of his engineering prowess, having played an integral role in the early success of Drake Trailers.
“He was our factory foreman for many years and was instrumental in ensuring our early designs of heavy haulage trailers worked really well,” he said.
“In the early ‘60s there were no drawings and no computers. My father would sit with Noel and they would talk about how they were going to make the next trailer – what would work and what wouldn’t – then Noel would go out as the factory foreman with his team and just build it,” John continued.
He added, “Some of those trailers are still in operation today.”
John said he had the privilege of working with Mullins when he joined the family business, learning from him many of the skills he now holds.
“Noel was very smart, honest, tough and straight forward – and he loved a good laugh,” John said. “He played a big part in laying the foundations for what The Drake Group is today.”
Noel is survived by his wife Lorraine, five of their six kids, 11 grandkids, 29 great grandkids and four great great grandkids – and loved by all.