Robert Wright and his son William commenced trading in 1946,
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gradually expanding the company of Robert Wright & Son to employ a staff of ninety at their factory in Ballymena by 1960. Today, William is the managing director and his son, Jeff, handles the company's commercial affairs. Together, they spearhead a business that is now firmly established as one of the leading bodybuilders in Northern Ireland, with a reputation for value, quality and innovation.
An increasingly competitive market in the 1970s, coupled with previous experience of building buses, led the company to diversify into production for the PSV, welfare and public transport sectors. Wright's vehicles have been exported all over the world — to New Zealand, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia — and, as each country has its own idiosyncrasies, so each bus is specially designed and constructed to accommodate these international differences.
In 1978, Wright's sent a management team to Europe to search for a technologically superior method of bus building, leading to the licensing of the Allussise System R5438, using a lightweight corrosion-resistant alloy. Ever NAME since, this has been at the core of Wright's bodybuilding business, giving COMPANY longer life expectancy, together with flexibility, thus in the long run lowering life cycle costs and ultimately giving con siderable savings in operational costs. L A healthy growth of orders necessitated the relocation of premises, in March last year, to a new 40,000 ft site on the Galgorm Industrial Estate in Ballymena. The factory's expanded production capacity has led to an increase in size of workforce to 150 at present, with another 30 people employed in Scotland.
There are two paintshops at Ballymena, accommodating two 40 ft spraybooths with underground water extraction systems. Recently, a replacement repair system was developed for Wright's buses, giving fast repair of accident damage, without using specialised tools, producing yet further savings for the bus operator But only one per cent of Wright's paint consumption is taken up with repair and maintenance.
"We've been associated with the Herberts company for twelve years," says Albert Hanna, Wright's production director "and we use the superb Superfieet paint system for eighty per cent of our work, and a small quantity of Standox 2-pack. The durability of Superfleet is certainly better than any other synthetic on the market. It is especially suited to our aluminium bodies and produces an excellent finish. We can now spray two colours in one day, giving a very fast turnaround and allowing us to build and finish five buses per week."
Barron & Brennan, Herberts' main distributor in Northern Ireland, delivers paint and ancillary products to Robert Wright & Son on a daily basis, and provides a very fast mixing and colour matching service.