Since Jeff Sykes first made his own scull during his National Championship campaign of 1966, we have been pushing boundaries in pursuit of victory.
From the original team we have now transformed into a company that includes passionate experts in many fields. A handful of the people you will find in Geelong are below.
JEFF LAWRENCE- MANAGING DIRECTOR
Since becoming Managing Director, Jeff has been passionate about advancing Sykes to the forefront of both technology and business. Revolutionising rowing boat design and production techniques from origins of handmade drawings and moulds, the systems Jeff has implemented have taken rowing to a new age of CAD modelling and composite construction techniques.
In order to see his vision through, he also moved the company to a new purpose built facility to fit the expanded production line including a new CNC machine. As Sykes surges into the new era, Jeff is driven by putting Sykes at the forefront of the world stage.
STUART WILSON - GENERAL MANAGER
One of our veterans, Stuart has been around from the very early days in 1981. Having come to Australia for a rowing holiday, he met his wife, began working with Jeff Sykes and the rest is history.
Today Stuart is the General Manager and oversees most aspects of Sykes operations. Still encapsulated by rowing (which he started at age 16), his love for the sport is what drives him every day in the office, viewing it as his life's work and helping what he calls his big family (the rowing community).
Stuart hopes to pass on his many years of experience and expertise to the next generation as he prepares to take a step back over the coming years.
DR MATT DINGLE - LEAD DESIGNER (R & D TEAM)
Matt Dingle is the lead designer in the Sykes Research and Development team. Matt was an Australian National team rower in 1990 and is now an active Masters rower. He completed an honours degree in engineering at Deakin and a PhD with Ford Motor Company. He spent 3 years at Ford in Product Development before joining Deakin to teach engineering design and develop a research team.
In 2000 Matt started Applied Research and Development P/L as an incubator for the commercialisation of new ideas and a provider of specialised engineering design services. Local carbon fibre wheel producer, Carbon Revolution began its commercialization journey within ARD and was then spun out as a separate company in 2008. As co-founder of Carbon Revolution, Matt was Managing Director until 2012 and Head of Technology Development until the end of 2013.
FERGUS PRAGNELL - CUSTOMER RELATIONS MANAGER
Since joining Sykes in 2012, Fergus has been a valuable addition to the Sykes team. As a member of the Australian Rowing Team, he continues his lifelong passion for rowing in his current role as Customer Relationship Manager.
He, like many others, joined Sykes because of the support given to continue his rowing dream and stay close to the rowing community. Looking forward he hopes to continue to provide the best products and support to foster and advance the Australian rowing community.
JAMES WILSON - PRODUCT SPECIALIST
James joined us in 2011, having been a rower from a young age in Geelong. He has been around Sykes in one way or another his whole life, allowing him to excel with his current position as Product Specialist.
He enjoys the interesting and exciting day to day work; and this coupled with the constant flow of rowing centric information helps him continue his passion in rowing.
James' aim is to help drive the improvement of the rowing industry and work with a business that pioneers and leads the rowing boat manufacturing industry.
NORM GODDARD - PRODUCTION MANAGER
Norm is looking forward to the evolution of manufacturing at Sykes with new processes that are halving production times and technology that is putting us at the cusp of innovation, something that will make his job even better and more enjoyable. After joining us in 1999 under the allure of working with a pioneering business that was recognised as best in industry, Norm is now the backbone of the end to end boat building process as Production Manager. He ensures that each bay works in harmony with each other to guarantee the quality you have come to expect.
OWEN BROWN - LEAD DESIGN MANAGER
Leaving the automotive industry in 2008, Owen joined us to utilise his extensive skills in 3D modelling and do something more aligned with his passion of boats.
As the Lead Design Manager, Owen revolutionises our design process to simplify build without sacrificing quality. He enjoys the work with its challenges and complexities, and finds it highly rewarding especially given the recent technological advancements we have made.
He is looking forward to pioneering the boat build process, which will be heavier on CAD utilisation given the recent introduction of our CNC machine.
DARRELL SMITH - METAL SHOP MANAGER
Darrell is our resident Metal Shop Manager and has been with us since 1999 after leaving heavy industry.
He loves to experiment so he's always trying new things in the metal shop. Focused on continual improvement, he sought a workplace that would allow him to grow and develop his trade, which he has certainly done since joining.
In the future Darrell hopes to further develop his role and become more heavily involved in all aspects Sykes to continue improving our boating technology and innovation process.
PAUL FITZGERALD - REPAIRS MANAGER
Another of our veterans, Paul has seen the evolution of Sykes over the last quarter century. Joining at end of his boat building apprenticeship in 1988, he sought an employer that would allow him to apply and develop his trade.
As the Repairs Manager, Paul's sole purpose has been to become an expert in his trade and as he says "I wouldn't want to do anything else".
He is looking forward to many years to come continuing to do what he does best.