An Australian equipment hire specialist, owned by one family for six decades, has won the top gong at Family Business Australia’s annual conference.
Wholly family-owned firm Kennards Hire was awarded family business of the year at the Adelaide conference.
Non-family chief executive of Kennards Hire Allan Besseling said it was exciting to see the firm recognised by its peers.
Other awards went to Matthew Beard, fifth generation member of bedding manufacturer AH Beard, and Ralph Wilson IV, who heads Willow Ware, which manufactures kitchenware and picnic accessories.
Beard took home the next generation award for improving efficiency at the family’s Tasmanian factory, while Wilson was recognised for the domestic wares that have impacted on the everyday lives of many Australians.
FBA chief executive Robin Buckram said the winners were a testament to the quality of Australian family businesses.
“These three businesses have succeeded by honouring their past and embracing their future, innovating at every available turn while remaining true to their origins,” Buckram said.
When a local customer to Walter Kennard’s machinery and produce store in Bathurst asked to borrow a cement mixer, Kennard instead suggested he hire the machine. So began Kennards Hire, which now operates 139 stores. In 2013, the firm posted revenues of AU$234 million (€166 million).
Although it’s now Australia’s largest bedding manufacturer, a devastating fire in 1926 nearly crippled the family business less than three decades after it was founded. However, over the next 20 years second gen Albert Beard and his wife, Eva, embarked upon a journey of industrial modernisation that would bring spring coils to the Australian bedroom. Now in its fourth generation, AH Beard was inducted in the FBA’s Family Business Association Hall of Fame in 2012. Its annual revenues currently stand at AU$55 million.
Originally specialising in metal working machinery and tools, the firm took a turn towards housewares in the fourth generation following two decades of floundering metal markets. The company, today led by the fourth and fifth generation, employs around 150 staff members.