PWR founder races from Gold Coast to Formula 1
GOING FOR R GROWTHWTH
KEES Weel has come a long way since he started tinkering with Holden cars as a young apprentice in the 1970s.
Mr Weel, founder of Ormeau-based PWR Performance Products, now produces cooling systems for the fastest vehicles on earth including the Formula 1 and is looking at a stockmarket listing.
Dutch-born Mr Weel grew up on a share farm in country Victoria before realising the rural life was not for him.
“I was kicked out of school and with older brothers I knew I wasn’t going to get a gig on the farm,” Mr Weel recalls. “So I looked for a motor mechanic apprenticeship and rode 40 miles on my push bike to get my first job at a Holden dealership.”
After working in mines in PNG in the mid 1970s and operating a scrap business, he moved to Queensland in 1987 and opened a radiator manufacturing factory.
A keen motorsport enthusiast, Mr Weel quickly developed a reputation for innovative cooling systems for everything from bulldozers to racing cars.
The big break came in 2008 when, with a product prototype under his arm, he approached NASCAR in the US. PWR now supplies seven of the 10 racing teams in the Formula 1 and the winners of every major motorsports championship between 2012 and 2014
“People will say we are an overnight success but it took me 30 years to become an overnight success,” Mr Weel said. “I was surprised that the gates in the US were not put up and we met so little resistance. But we are a very passionate company and passion can take you far.”
Mr Weel believes he has taken the company as far as possible and is now looking at a possible ASX listing. To that end, he has brought former Super Retail chief Bob Thorn on as chairman.
Thorn, also a motor enthusiast, said PWR was a unique Australian manufac- turer because of its ability to design and manufacture everything from one-off cooling systems for an elite race car to mass production of parts for average vehicles.
“They make everything from cooling systems for F1 to short production runs for Porsche and Aston Martin,” Mr Thorn said.
Mr Weel said the growth of electric cars would create huge opportunities for PWR as the vehicle’s batteries would need new cooling systems. The company has 95 staff in Australia and 70 in the US. In March, PWR acquired the leading manufacturer of professional motorsports cooling systems, C&R.