Harbour Air boss leaves company to take over father's role as chief executive of Oak Bay Marine Group
Sep 21 2012
Harbour Air executive Randy Wright will take over for his father Bob Wright as chief executive of the Oak Bay Marine group.Photograph by: Darren Stone , Times Colonist
Bob Wright wants to make something clear — he’s not about to fade away into the sunset and till a garden.
“I’m not going to retire, but I am going to relax,” said the founder and chief executive of the Oak Bay Marine Group. “I’m not really into planting potatoes, but I am going to back off a bit.”
In order to do that, Wright has decided it’s time for new blood at the helm of his business empire, and has brought in his son Randy Wright to take over as chief executive.
“We have been talking about it for a while now, I’m not getting any younger, I’m starting to back off a bit myself,” said Wright, who will turn 82 in November. “The company has grown considerably and is very healthy. We are in three countries now and we have some 24 different operations — it’s a little too large for me at my age to figure everything out every day.
“I’d like to take a day off every once in a while.”
Wright said that will finally be possible with Randy at the helm.
“I have done a lot of checking with people he’s worked with and the things he’s done and it’s all come up A+, he will be a really good addition to the company,” said Bob Wright. “We have things to do yet and I need somebody there that can carry the banner as I sort of slip back into an easy chair and watch from a distance.”
Wright said his son is a smart young lad who has worked at Oak Bay Marine Group in the past and has done a very good job as executive vice president of Harbour Air, where Randy has worked for more than 12 years.
“I’m excited about him coming on board and I’m sure he’s going to add to the management of this company,” he said.
Randy Wright was not available for comment Thursday, but in an email to friends and colleagues he said he was leaving Harbour Air with mixed emotions.
“I look back at Harbour Air, with great humility and pride. I am proud of what has been accomplished by one of Canada’s best management teams. I have learned so much in the last 12 years and I will take away many great memories,” he wrote. “There will continue to be a strong relationship between the two companies and I look forward to the challenge ahead.”
As for rumours of a rift between the two Wrights, Bob dismissed it as typical family back-and-forth and if there’s a hatchet it’s long been buried.
“I’m not into nepotism but it means an awful lot to me to have good person there and I think he’s a good person,” said Bob. “And animosity? I can’t even remember that.
“The animosity I’d guess is in any family, there is always a certain amount of animosity over the years. We’ve been getting along great, I ask him for advice and occasionally he’s even asked me for advice ... very occasionally,” Bob added with a laugh. “We have to keep the thing going, we’re into our 50th year and somehow I don’t think I’m going to be around for the next 50th year.”
Wright, who settled in Victoria in 1951 turned a fishing charter business into a sprawling company with fishing lodges, resorts, adventure tourism companies and attractions in B.C., Oregon and the Bahamas.
Currently Oak Bay Marine Group, which turns 50 this year, employs more than 1,000 people.