It is with deep sadness that we announce that our beloved employee and friend of over 45 years Noel Mullins has lost his battle with cancer. Passing away Sunday, 7th March 2021 at the age of 84.
Noel was a major factor in the early success of Drake Trailers, working closely with our founder Colin Drake and then with Colin’s son, John. He is held in the highest regard not only by the Drake family but by all Drake employees past and present – those of us who knew him got a chance to see what a great man he was, a legend.
Noel was a true Queenslander, born in Warwick and living most of his life in the sunny state. He was educated at St James College in Brisbane and went on to complete a boilermaker/ fitter and turner apprenticeship.
Shortly after Noel and his wife Lorraine were married, he secured a job in the sand mines at Cabarita and Kingscliff. He worked there for a few years but it wasn’t long until he was keen to return to Queensland.
Drake Trailers had only been in business for two years when Noel joined as Drake’s first employee. His daughter, Jay Lees, recalls that once he started, he had no intention of ever leaving. It was a well-known joke that Noel was known by all as “part of the furniture” at Drake Trailers.
Noel had such a clear vision and a natural flair for engineering, which Jay says made him a natural fit for Drake Trailers.
“If he wanted to build something, he never had any plans or blueprints – he would just do it straight from his head,” she said.
“He built horse floats for us when we were growing up and doing the show circuits, again straight out of his head. He had the foresight to see how things would turn out before they’d actually been made. He didn’t need a plan, he would look at something and say, ‘that’s not going to work’, or ‘yeah, that’ll work’ – he just knew.”
This can-do attitude formed the early success at Drake Trailers too. Sharing his earliest memories of Noel, The Drake Group owner and son of Colin, John Drake, said he was instrumental in ensuring the early Drake models were working well.
“In the early ‘60s there were no drawings and no computers. My father would sit with Noel and they would talk about how they were going to make the next trailer – what would work and what wouldn’t – then Noel would go out as the factory foreman with his team and just build it.”
“Some of those trailers are still in operation today,” he continued.
John had the privilege of working with Noel when he joined the family business, learning from him many of the skills and know-how that has shaped his vision for the business.
“Noel was very smart, honest, tough and straight forward – and he loved a good laugh.”
Noel is survived by his wife Lorraine, five of their six kids, 11 grandkids, 29 great grandkids and four great great grandkids. Our deepest sympathies go out to all his family and friends in this time of sadness, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.