It all started with a canoe
It was back in the late 1970’s, when one of our founding directors was invited on a canoe trip with a Coffs Harbour local who built the fibreglass canoes they were using. During the weekend away he revealed he’d had enough of building canoes and offered to sell the business to our director.
The business commenced on a part-time basis at first, gradually expanding into other areas, including water tanks, rally car bonnets and mud flaps. Then came the opportunity in 1984 to break into the home construction industry by building fibreglass shower trays.
The dawn of Wet-seal came when a building supervisor asked if they could create a shower moulding different to the standard square used by the industry back then. Realising it would be too expensive to build a one-off fibreglass mould, they waterproofed the area on-site for the first time, and so Wet-seal was born.
From its humble beginnings building canoes, Wet-seal quickly expanded into a respected industry-leader in the home construction industry, thanks to the combined efforts of its three founding directors – Mike Ellis, Kevin Tighe, John Rathbone. With the later addition of Jim Child as a director, Wet-seal took the bold step to re-design its operation into a franchise network in 2000 after they realised demand for the company’s unique waterproofing system, particularly in Australia, meant they’d outgrown their centralised corporate structure.
Under the directors’ leadership and diverse experience – ranging from engineering, accounting, taxation, banking, plumbing and timber manufacturing – Wet-seal has grown from its hometown in idyllic Coffs Harbour, NSW, into a multi-national business, with highly skilled franchisees spread across Australia and New Zealand providing waterproofing to new homes and renovations.
Today, Mike, Kevin, John and Jim are all still involved in the business as Board members, lending more than 80 years’ of combined knowledge and expertise to its continued success.
Wet-seal has reached some historic milestones in that time, including:
- Contributing to the creation of the Australian Waterproofing Code developed by the Board of Standards.
- Expanding into New Zealand and becoming the first company to achieve a nationally recognised waterproofing classification through BRANZ.
- Being recognised in BRW magazine’s 50 fastest growing franchises for four consecutive years; the only regionally-operated organisation to achieve this accolade.
- Leading the industry in developing environmentally friendly products, with the launch of its Enviro-coat range in 2010.