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 business was small, but highly regarded and it firmly grounded itself as a business built on strong family values and a belief at being the best. Offering customers high quality products, exceptional service and establishing core values of honesty, integrity, trust and respect.
The Kennards Hire business philosophy has never changed but it has grown to become Australia’s largest family-owned hire business, with close to 170 branches across Australia and New Zealand. Kennards Hire is renowned as a premium supplier of high quality hire equipment and at the forefront of industry innovation, customer care, safety and excellence.
An Entrepreneurial Force
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 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 Wally was able to gauge 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 facility in Artarmon. With continued growth the business premises changed again to Greenwich in 1960 and then back to a permanent premises in Artarmon in 1972.
By now the iconic Kennards Hire brand was firmly established and the business was transforming the hire industry in Australia with its commitment to family, people and sustainable growth being top priority.
Like Father, Like Son
The Kennard brothers Nev and Andy brought the same entrepreneurial spirit as their father to the business. After buying into the business, Nev in 1957 and Andy in 1965 the two were open to new ideas and opportunities and were driven by innovation.
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 boys 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.
Supplier and brand partnerships were established and relationships built on trust and mutual respect allowed the business to offer unique and high quality equipment to suit professional tradespeople, contractors and DIY renovators. Our range of hire equipment became known as the best in Australia and many lines were exclusive, while others were specifically adapted by our suppliers to meet our exacting quality standards of being 'hire tough.'
The transition from a second to third generation family business was marked by the amicable separation in 1991 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. A rare example of how deep family values, beliefs and philosophies have been embedded and passed on to others.
Third generation family members (Angus, Cameron, Rory Kennard and Kirsty Kovacs (nee Kennard)) pursued their own talents and business interests into areas diversely different, yet complimentary to the core hire business. Governance for the family-in-business was established in accordance with the Kennard Family Charter which has allowed structure, management, directorship and the safe-guarding of the family businesses for future generations.
The charter is vital to the ongoing success of our family-in-business. It conveys the principles, practices and philosophies of the Kennard family, helping ensure they are carried forward through the family’s life and businesses. The business also looked to Family Business Australia to assist with succession planning and mapping out the future and devising the company strategic plan.
In 2016 Angus Kennard is appointed CEO of Kennards Hire and firmly grounds family into the future of the business.