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Family at the helm of Norfolk boatbuilders approaching a milestone

January 30, 2018

Family is at the heart of a Norfolk boatbuilding company that is approaching its 40th year in business.

From those at the helm to the people who build the craft, a firm family ethos drives the award-winning Goodchild Marine Services, based in Burgh Castle near Great Yarmouth.

Owned by husband and wife Alan and Sue Goodchild, the company’s management team comprises married couple Lisa and Steve Pierce, who are office manager and general manager respectively.

And hands-on in the boatyard are father and son boatbuilders Chris and James Harris.

Chris, 46, has worked as a boatbuilder for most of his career, joining Goodchild Marine seven years ago after first meeting Alan when he was 17 years old and just learning the trade.

Inspired by his father, James joined three years ago, for a temporary position.

James, 21, said: “I was initially here for six weeks as a labourer when we worked on the first SB Lynx catamaran.

“I left in 2016 to join the Royal Marines, but after 10 weeks I decided it wasn’t for me. I came back and went to see Steve with some real focus on what I wanted to do and asked him if I could come back. My job now is to install electronics onto the boats, in a permanent role.”

Although the pair don’t work side by side their roles intertwine on a daily basis.

Chris said: “James and I go through all the process together, starting with a drawing. It’s absolutely amazing what we can produce as a team using the innovative technology we’ve become known for.

“There’s always great banter and everyone knows their job so well. We all feed off each other and there is always someone who will point you in the right direction if you need help. We are all very close knit.”

“My dad was a boatbuilder so it was always something I was interested in. I was going to go to college, but then my previous company offered to train me and the rest is history.”

Goodchild Marine, Norfolk, boatbuilders

Chris and James Harris at Goodchild Marine – Pic by TMS Media

Alan Goodchild, managing director, said he was proud of the shared attitudes and beliefs of the 35 people who work for the company that give it a real family feel.

“The whole Goodchild Marine team are cogs that make the big wheel work. Not one person runs this company and there is no golden structure.

“But we listen to each other and once we make a decision everyone wholly supports it. James and Chris are fantastic employees and the fact that they are father and son is a perfect demonstration of the way we run the company.

“This year we will celebrate four decades in business and we believe this longevity speaks volumes for the collaborative spirit that has made the company so successful.”

In November, Goodchild Marine Services won the Great Business Idea award in the Great Yarmouth Spirit of Enterprise Awards, in which it was also named Business of the Year.

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