Richard Pratt (1934-2009)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Richard J. Pratt was born in Danzig, of Polish parents, March 12, 1934, emigrating to Australia from pre-war Poland in 1938 via England. He graduated from University High School in 1952 and enrolled at University of Melbourne. At age 18, he was juggling study, theatre, and his position as company salesman for the family business, Visy Board. After a brief theatre career in London, he returned to Melbourne and the company,
Upon the death of his father, Mr. Pratt took over the company in 1969. At that time, it had annual turnover of about A$5 million. In 2002, group turnover exceeds A$3 billion (U.S. $1.7 billion).
One of the features of the Pratt Group Expansion was waste reclamation. Its first paper recycling mill was built in 1979. In 1997, Pratt Industries opened the world’s most advanced paper recycling facility on Staten Island, New York. Visy recycles more than 1.2 million tons of paper in the U.S.A. and Australia each year. The company recently expanded its new technical centre in Coolaroo, Victoria. In November 2001, the company officially opened it’s A$450 million kraft pulp and paper mill at Tumut, New South Wales. The mill has been hailed as the world’s cleanest and most technically advanced kraft paper mill.
Currently chairman of Visy Industries, Mr. Pratt’s public services include foundation chancellor, Swinburne University of Technology; chair of finance committee, U. S. Coral Sea Commemorative Council; president, Victorian Arts Center Trust; chairman, Australian Business Arts Foundation; and chairman, Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria.
Mr. Pratt received the AC, Companion of the Order of Australia in 1998, Australia’s highest honor. He had also received the AO, Officer of the Order of Australia, in 1985. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Swinburne University of Technology and Monash University. He was named the Packaging Achiever of the year by the Packaging Council of Australia.
Mr. Pratt and his wife, also an AC recipient, have a son, Anthony Joseph, chairman of Visy Industries, U.S.A.; and two daughters, Heloise Waislitz, chairman, Pratt Foundation; and Fiona Geminder, director, Visy Recycling.