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Our Story

Strong family roots

Our business started simply enough.

It was 1948. Living in the small rural town of Bathurst (200 km west of Sydney, NSW) Walter Kennard owned a small rural supply and machinery business, W. Kennard & Company. When a customer 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 our journey began.

From our rural beginnings we relocated to Sydney – trading from the garage – and have become an iconic Australian multi-generational business.

Kennards Hire has grown to become Australia’s #1 family-owned hire business, with more than 150 branches across Australia and New Zealand. Renowned as the premium supplier of high quality hire equipment, our range and service is built to satisfy.

 

Our business philosophy has never changed – offer customers the best quality products, excellent service and act with integrity and honesty.

 

Entrepreneurial spirit

It was the right business at the right time. Post-war Australia was experiencing an unprecedented building boom. Vast opportunities were created for hard working entrepreneurs.

The Kennard family business prospered.

In 1951 the family relocated to Mosman (Sydney) and the business – by then called W. Kennard Agencies – traded from the garage of the family home. Wally sold, hired or created products – like ockey straps – and imported roof racks and floor sanders.

Wally was an entrepreneur. He spotted opportunities.

As he travelled the country selling and hiring equipment, he’d find things to add to the range. Other times, an idea would strike him and he’d create a product to make things work more efficiently and safely.

Our ethos was born: to make our customers lives easier.

It was a true family business. Wally delivered concrete mixers in his Austen A40 while his wife, Theo, took phone orders and did the books. The kids – Neville, Joan and Andrew – earned pocket money by cleaning, repairing and loading equipment.

We soon outgrew the family home. Our name changed to W. Kennard Industries (later to become the iconic Kennards Hire) and in 1954 we moved to Artarmon. Six years later it again moved – to Greenwich– before permanent premises were acquired in 1972, in Herbert Street, Artarmon.

 

Chips off the old block

The second generation – Nev and Andy – brought the same spirit as their father to our business. Both were entrepreneurial, innovative and open to different ideas.

 After buying into the business (Nev 1957 and Andy 1964/5) they travelled the world looking for new opportunities and ideas. That search not only grew the business, but successfully changed the hire industry across Australia.

 The brothers used an ‘adopt and adapt’ approach to innovation – adjusting products and ideas until they fit customer needs. That attitude became part of the business DNA and drove the constant growth that continues to this day.

Created to suit professional tradespeople, contractors and DIY renovators, our range of hire equipment became known as the best in Australia. Many lines were exclusive to Kennards, while others were specifically adapted by our suppliers to meet our exacting quality standards of being 'hire tough.'

 

Multi-generational family-in-business

Our transition from a second to third generation family business was marked by the amicable separation in 1991– after 27 years – of Nev and Andy’s business interests in Kennards Hire.

Andy’s family retained Kennards Hire, while Nev’s family continued with what would ultimately become known as Kennards Self-Storage. Not surprisingly, the culture of both businesses remains strikingly similar.

Both businesses expanded quickly.

As the third generation – Andy’s family (Angus, Cam, Rory Kennard and Kirsty Kovacs (nee Kennard)) – became involved in the business, the family looked to Family Business Australia (FBA) for help in planning for future generations.

That relationship continues today.

In 2014 the FBA publicly recognised the contribution of Kennards Hire to the Australian family business community with two honours: 2014 Distinguished Family Business Award and induction to the FBA Hall of Fame.

 

YEAR MONTH EVENT
1948   Wally Kennard started hiring from 142 Russell St, Bathurst
1965   Trucks introduced - Falcon utes and Ford F350 vans
1966   First KH Logo was introduced
1969   Quality Control Checks commenced 
1972   Kennards pioneered mechanical access equipment in Australia with 2 Get Smart 15' scissor lifts
1972   Logo upgrade and "Make your job easy" slogan introduced 
1998   50 branches in 50 years
2001 Jan 500 employees
2001 Mar Kennards Hire Equity Participation Programme (KHEPP) commenced
2001 May Kennards awarded inaugural HRAI National Hire Company of the Year 
2003 Jan Lift & Shift division commenced
2003 Nov 600 employees
2004 Mar Concrete Care division commenced
2004 Aug Major logo change and rollout
2005 Oct Angus Kennard becomes 3rd generation Director
2005 June 700 employees
2007 May 800 employees
2008 May Kennards awarded HRIA Hire Company of the Year
2009   Traffic division commenced
2010 July Pump & Power division commenced Qld
    100 branches
    900 employees
    WA opened
    NT opened
2013 Apr Rail division commenced
    NZ opened
  Nov Test & Measure division commenced
2014 May Kennards awarded HRIA Hire Company of the Year 
2014 July Moved into Christchurch, NZ
    1000 employees
2014 Sept Kennards awarded FBA Distinguished Family Business
2014 Sept 150 branches
    1100 employees
  Nov Kennards inducted into FBA Hall of Fame
2015 July New CEO Liz Ward 
2016 Feb New Chairman Brendan Fleiter 
2016 Oct New CEO Angus Kennard

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