When Walter Kennard owned a small rural supply and machinery business in the small rural town of Bathurst (200km west of Sydney, NSW) it was humble beginnings for W. Kennard & Company. It was 1948, and when one of Wally’s customers asked if they could ‘borrow’ a new Lightburn concrete mixer, rather than buy one Wally said, “I won't lend it to you, but I'll hire it to you.”
And so, the journey began.
The Kennards Hire business is now the largest family-owned equipment hire business in Australia and New Zealand, with over 190 branches and sites and more than 1,800 team members. Renowned as a premium supplier of quality equipment and expert advice, Kennards Hire is proud to be at the forefront of industry safety innovation and customer experience.
In 2023, the business celebrates 75 years as an iconic Australian brand.
It was the right business at the right time. Post-war Australia was experiencing an unprecedented building boom. Vast opportunities were accessible for hard working entrepreneurs.
The Kennard family business prospered in regional NSW and in 1951 the family relocated to Sydney. Now, W. Kennard Agencies, the business traded from the garage of the family home. Wally sold, hired and created products and, as a true entrepreneur is able to do, he was able to gauge profitable, commercial opportunities.
He travelled the country selling and hiring equipment. He’d find new products to add to the range and created or modified equipment to make things work more efficiently and safely. It was Wally’s intention to make customers lives easier.
It was a true family business and everyone chipped in and played a hand in expanding the business. Wally delivered equipment to customers while his wife, Theo, took phone orders and managed the books. The kids were no exception and Neville, Joan and Andrew – earned pocket money by cleaning, repairing and loading equipment.
The business soon outgrew the family home and, with a name change to W. Kennard Industries in 1954, the operations moved to a larger site in Artarmon. With continued growth the business premises moved again, this time to Greenwich in 1960, before moving back to a permanent premises in Artarmon in 1972.
After buying into the business, Nev in 1957 and Andy in 1965, the two brothers brought the same entrepreneurial spirit as their father to Kennards, driven by innovation and a customer-focused attitude.
The brothers used an ‘adopt and adapt’ approach to innovation – adjusting products and ideas until they met customer needs. As a result, the business not only grew but the Kennard brother’s influence was successfully changing the hire industry across Australia. Their passion and dedication for innovation and continuous improvement was now firmly embedded into the DNA of the business and is a strength that continues to drive consistent growth and results.
Neville and Andy amicably separated the business interests in 1991, with Andy’s family retaining the hire equipment activities, and Nev’s family continued with what would ultimately become known as Kennards Self-Storage.