Name: Christopher John Morris
Type of Business: Information Technology, Hospitality
Main Achievements: Introducing computer services to Australian Share Registrars in 1978, Owning Colonial Leisure Group, Northern Escape Collection
Something interesting about this person:The Morris group has the largest collection of privately owned helicopter fleets, Nautilus Aviation
Image taken from the Australian Business Review
Chris Morris is one of Australia’s wealthiest people in Australia. He was born in 1948, though not much about his childhood has been made public, we do know that he was not exactly a shining star at school. He did, however, have a knack for mathematics a fact he told success magazine. However, in the year 1966, he was one of the first people that enrolled in the first computer course in Australia at Taylor University. This allowed him to work at the first computer bureau in Melbourne. It was the time when third generation computers were available around this time. Home PC’s had not been introduced yet.
By chance, Morris was assigned to the share registry system, which is a record keeper of bondholders and shareholders. The details of each shareholder are kept in the record. They decided to digitize this information and provided their services by founding Computershare in 1978, along with Ken Milner. In five years, Australia started to use the services offered by their company. Due to its success, the company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1994. Eventually, the company moved to New Zeland, United Kingdom, and finally the United States. There, they were amongst the first firms to use multiple computers to run an application. A practice that was not followed at the time. As of 2018, Computershare is operating in 27 countries and has more than 18,000 people working for them. One of the keys to his success lies in how he follows a few golden rules. For example, he firmly believes that above all else, “managers should focus on managing people” and admitting one’s weaknesses according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Even though today Morris is still a shareholder in Computershare, owning 7% of the shares in the company, he also holds the Colonial Leisure Group, Northern Escape Collection, The Villa Resort Casino, and many many more businesses. He started in the hospitality sector in 2008 when he purchased Colonial Brewing Co and The Royal Hotel. Both of these were owned by the Empire Beer Group, which lost 7 million dollars in that year. Chris bought the assets and took over. He enlisted the help of his son in law Lawrence Dowd to run the colonial Leisure and his daughter Nikki to run the Royal Hotel pub. Later, Cornerstone, a company that owned 10 pubs, also went bankrupt, and so, he decided to buy and started getting “sucked” into the business.
Indeed, for over 12 years, Chris Morris has invested heavily in renovating and reinvigorating of the businesses he has acquired over the years. For example, the Vile Casino and Resort in Townsville underwent refurbishment worth 43 million. Orpheus Island is another resort in Queensland which he purchased in 2011. The island is 80 km north of Townsville, offering white beaches, an optimum spot to view the coral reef alongside a five-star hotel lodging. To undergo refurbishments worth 50 million dollars, Chris Morris decided to sell his shares at Computershare worth 28 million approximately. He also bought Pelorus Island at the north of Orpheus Island with the hopes of turning it into a destination for those who are willing to pay more than 10k per night with experiences that include “reef snorkeling right off the beach” according to the Success Magazine.
Despite the size of his business, the Morris Group has focused on environmental sustainability. By taking small steps such as removing plastic straws from the Morris Group of properties and instead offering biodegradable straws upon request. They are also using solar power batteries to power their Mount Mulligan Lodge (a measure they are also planning to implement in Orpheus Island Lodge). Finally, they have started using e water instead of chemical cleaners. The Morris group has also started a partnership with Ganbina, pledging $160,000 over the course of 3 years to help the Indigenous students in Australia.