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 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 fishing resort 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," 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-plus. He will be a really good addition to the company," said the elder 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."
Bob 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.
Oak Bay Marine Group turns 50 this year and employs 1,000 people.
Wright said his son 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.
In an email to colleagues and friends, Randy Wright said he was leaving Harbour Air with mixed emotions, but during an interview his excitement over the new opportunity was clear. "I'm really looking forward to it. It's something I'm passionate about," said Wright, who starts in his new post Monday. "I'm a waterfront guy, I've been around boats and float planes my whole life.
"This means I can keep [Bob's] legacy going. He's done some incredible things for the community over the years, and that's something I am passionate about as well. It's been in discussion for a long time and now we see if we can continue the tradition."
Randy Wright, who worked for Oak Bay Marine Group for 22 years before leaving 12 years ago, said he thinks he was always destined to come back. "I think it's all timing. I'm the right age for it now. I'm back to the family business," he said. "It just feels right."
Wright said his time working with Harbour Air was a little like going to a waterfront university where he's gathered experience, adapted to new leadership styles and expanded his understanding of business.
As for rumours of a rift between the 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 Wright. "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.
"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."
Randy Wright echoed his father's sentiment, adding they have both long since moved on. "It's just family," he said.
© Copyright 2013