A father-and-son company is keeping 70 per cent of the grand prix world on track, including the Red Bull racers that claimed four of the past five world titles, thanks to Australian radiator technology.
It’s also responsible for keeping the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 road-going supercars running smoothly, as well as cooling the new trackonly Aston Martin Vulcan.
PWR, a Queensland company established by Kees and Paul Weel, turns over an estimated $50 million-plus a year and has customers around the world. The Weels started with road-car projects but have found a lucrative niche that makes them one of the motor industry’s export success stories. They have also recently expanded into Britain.
“There is a huge market around the world for small car builds, up to 5000 cars,” Paul Weel says.
“A lot of the bigger manufacturers don’t look at anything under 10,000.
“We’ve come a long way in a pretty short time. We have 90 employees at our factory on the Gold Coast and we will have another 70 in the UK.
“We moved in to a factory with 7500 square metres, and we’re just moving into the building next door which is another 2500 square metres. There is a lot of work for us in Europe at the moment.”
Wheel is reluctant to go into detail on much of PWR’s work but the company specialises in complex radiator shapes and even has a full-scale wind tunnel and development team to handle big clients including the grand prix teams.
“We’re expanding our speciality cores. Non-normal shapes is the best way to describe it. That’s the Formula One stuff and other compound curves,” Weel says.
PWR has just absorbed an American radiator specialist and Weel says there is lots of potential growth in the US.
“We’re looking for more growth in the US. A whole range of things, from niche road cars to military vehicles, Shelby road cars and Ford and GM for one-off projects. We’ve got a fair bit on. But we’re a bit guarded.”
He is proudest of PWR’s success in F1 and is looking to eventually supply the whole grid.
“We have seven teams at the moment. We’ve been working with Red Bull the longest. By the end of the year we’ll probably have eight of the 10 teams.
“Ferrari is one of our targets for the future. We’re making headway with them on their Formula One program. Mercedes is the other main team we’re looking at.”
Core strengths: Radiators built by Paul Weel, left, keep the likes of Australia’s Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo competitive