Our Heritage

Proudly Australian owned and operated, Ahrens is a fifth-generation family business established in the Barossa, South Australia in 1902.

A trusted name in steel infrastructure for 120 years.

Today, Ahrens is a national full-service construction, engineering and mining services company, delivering a complete range of project services and cost-effective solutions. We achieve this through our complete range of in-house capabilities, our numerous strategic locations and our collaborative, personable approach to business. What has stayed the same throughout the 120 years is our down-to-earth approach to business and family values, which sets us apart from the rest.

VIEW VIDEO ON BOB AHRENS, 3RD GENERATION OF AHRENS

FIVE GENERATIONS AND 120 YEARS IN BUSINESS, CREATING PRODUCTS & SERVICES FOR CUSTOMERS ACROSS THE NATION.

Our Unique Heritage

1902

Having returned from the Kalgoorlie goldfields, in 1902 Johann Carl Wilhelm Ahrens (known as Wilhelm) wasted little time in setting up a blacksmith shop at Sheaoak Log in South Australia.

Wilhelm rented a small building and busied himself making his own blacksmithing tools and building up clients who required the basic services he offered, such as shoeing horses.

With land titles date stamped April 5, 1906, for the workshop and cottage the only proof available to the current family of the business’ establishment, the historic account would become lore for five generations.

However, in 2022, discoveries of turn of the century news appearing in the South Australian statewide newspaper, The Advertiser, proved otherwise.

A Trove record from March 1902 lists a ‘Wanted to Rent’ advertisement for ‘a country Blacksmith Shop and Plant, about 25 miles to 50 miles north of Adelaide’ placed by a ‘W. Ahrens from PO Box Lyndoch’.

In 1904 a further advertisement, in the same newspaper, called for a ‘Smart, Intelligent Lad wanted, to learn smith’s trade. Apply W. Ahrens, Sheaoak Log’.

The fact Wilhelm was seeking a lad in 1904 proves the business was already established and growing.

1922

Wilhelm’s son Bill, aged 18, joins the family business and become respected tradesmen in Sheaoak Log and miles beyond. The duo work harmoniously at the forge and anvil, and the business experiences many changes including the introduction of motorised vehicles and power tools, and tractors replacing horses for transport and farm work.

1956

Bob Ahrens joins the blacksmith business which sees three generations of the family working side-by-side. Bob is an entrepreneurial engineer and grows the business by extending its product range to include grain silos, field bins, rural sheds and stone and land rollers.

Bob’s land roller patent design becomes an integral piece of machinery across the State’s farming region, particularly on the West Coast.

 

1960

With electricity arriving in Sheaoak Log in 1959, Bob capitalises on his passion to pursue ambitious projects such as a rural shed range.

His chicken shed design, similar to hutches, become another important piece of Ahrens’ growing business, particularly as it leads to the development of a line of farm buildings.

1964

Continuing on-farm changes and a demand for new equipment and machinery, Ahrens evolves from blacksmithing to manufacturing. A new workshop is erected on rural land at Sheaoak Log, next to Bill and his wife Myrtle’s house, and Ahrens hires its first full time employee, Roy Leske.

1967

Bob and Marj take over full ownership of the business, after his father Bill sells them his share, and Marj’s official involvement with Ahrens begins. She modernises the business’s accounting procedures, working alongside Bob from the home kitchen, adjacent the Sheaoak Log factory.

The couple branch out making small, welded silos with a capacity of up to about 20 tonnes. The silos are bought by feed companies and farmers wanting to store seed and grain.

1970

Bob observes across the country there is need for larger transportable silos with a capacity of about 80 tonnes. His foresight leads the business to expand to manufacture sheet metal and deal in bulk handling services – building silos inside his factory and delivered to farms fully constructed.

1972

Ahrens’ first export request for five chicken sheds to be exported to Libya is secured and Bob receives another order from the same client for 16 chicken sheds. It is Ahrens’ biggest order in terms of finance with the project valued at $84,000. With the first silo shed and the chicken sheds underway, Bob and Marj are dealt a blow when a telegraph is received cancelling the buildings.

This is the closest the Ahrens business is threatened by bankruptcy. In true optimistic style they resolve the matter, selling the majority of chicken sheds to a local poultry farmer and the remainder to farmers.

1976

Bob diversifies the company’s traditional range of rural-based products and branches into industrial buildings. This marks the beginning of Ahrens’ structural steel fabrication, with a workshop and office expansion, and the opportunity to take on bigger projects.

1979

Ahrens constructs its first winery in the Barossa Valley for Hoffmann Cellar winery, now Peter Lehmann Wines in Tanunda, SA. Works result in the construction of an expansive warehouse and catwalks over the entire tank farm. The project signals Ahrens’ entry in the wine industry, an association which continues to this day.

1980

Ahrens secures its first interstate work in the Northern Territory for a number of agriculture buildings after forging what would become a lasting relationship with builders, brothers Peter and Paul Sitzler. A new road built to Alice Springs is also a catalyst for Ahrens’ expansion of their structural steel project work in the NT.

The Anglican Church in Bath Street, Alice Springs, is one of the first jobs Ahrens complete for the Sitzler brothers in the early 1980s.

1985

Bob commits the business to a large research and development project for pea and grain at Two Wells in SA. With support from farmer Rod Lienert, Ahrens successfully manufactures a helical rolling trash harrow designed to level the ground and leave the stubble on the top.

1988

Fourth generation family member Stefan Ahrens joins the family business, spending the first 18 months welding in the workshop before moving to the office and deciding this is his future.

Ahrens’ first feed mill for Metro farms at Wasley, SA, is built following a decision to upgrade their existing feedmills which produce feed for SA piggeries. Ahrens is the successful tender and since then has built feed mills in most States of Australia, plus for Inghams in New Zealand.

1995

Stef formally takes control of the company and Ahrens wins its first mining project. This was a staggering $9.5M job at Mount Todd gold mine near Katherine. While a calculated risk, given the business’ annual turnover at the time was $12M, the project is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Ahrens’ capabilities, with the single project financially making a huge difference to the company.

1998

In October Stef and Bob acquire the silo manufacturing and distribution business of Sherwell in SA and Victoria. The business is renowned for manufacturing silos, field bins and augers, and the acquisition marks Ahrens’ return to silos.

1999

Ahrens opens a display centre at Cavan for Ranbuild C-section sheds to complement their range of heavy industrial and rural buildings. It would mark the first move for the company outside of Sheaoak Log and the start of their Design and Construct industrial business.

Cellarmaster Wines, SA, shed expansion is completed. The work marks tens of millions of dollars for the company and leads Ahrens to develop a reputation in the wine industry for delivering high-quality and cost-effective building solutions.

2000

Ahrens secures works for the 2000 Sydney Olympics which involves a temporary 9000sqm shed at Homebush. Ahrens’ successful tender results in work to design, fabricate and erect the warm up facility.

Ahrens continues its expansion program with the acquisition of Websters, a silo-making operation owned by Jim Webster, based in Oakey, Queensland. The business was begun in 1970, manufacturing farm silos with a capacity of up to 140 tonnes, with Ahrens turning it around.

2003

Ahrens is engaged to fabricate and erect the steelwork for the northern and southern roof structures for the ANZ Stadium roof structure in NSW, within a tight timeframe for the opening of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The project involves 1,000 tonnes of steel, along with polycarbonate roof sheeting and stainless steel guttering.

Ahrens opens a Brisbane office due to growth experienced in the construction business across the State.

Ahrens’s purchases the purpose-built M&S Steel Building based in Goombungee, 40km north-west of Toowoomba. Shortly after the purchase, Ahrens merged the business with Webster. The manufacture of grain silos and staff from Websters were transferred to the expanded facility at Goombungee.

2005

Ahrens wins the Blue Circle cement processing facility project, worth just under $12M, after the bid impresses with its innovative design of a 45 metre high dry mixing tower. Works include the design, procurement, installation and commissioning of the entire plant, including hoppers and conveyors, a vibrating dryer, bucket, elevators, mixer, conveyors, silos and dust collection, and all associated electrical and control systems.

Ahrens continues to spread its wings across Australia, with a Materials Handling office opening in Toowoomba, QLD. The office pinpoints a time of great growth for Ahrens within the Brisbane market, specialises in material handling within the gain industry.

2006

Ahrens celebrates what it understands is its 100 years in business having marked their blacksmithing existence from land titles date stamped, April 5, 1906. The date is later corrected in 2022 following State newspaper records from 1902.

This 2006 milestone is preceded with the launch of a new Ahrens logo and culmination of several major events, including a formal dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre and family day at Sheaoak Log. Ahrens also releases its history book ‘A Century of Change’ to commemorate the special occasion.

2007

Ahrens acquires Allbuilt Constructions in Darwin which later is rebranded to Design & Construct with offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth. The division specialises in large office/warehouses, distribution centres, factories and mining and processing facilities.

Ahrens further purchases rural company F.A. Miller and aligns the rural business with the Sherwell brand, further expanding the range of its grain handling equipment and products.

2008

Ahrens secures it largest project to date, design and construct an expansive 70,000sqm distribution centre for Australia’s leading wholesaler and distributor – Metcash. The $66.4M new facility at Gepps Cross, SA, replaces Metcash’s existing distribution centre at Kidman Park, which Ahrens completed 19 years earlier.

Ahrens heads to the West Coast to open an office in Perth and proves successful. The permanent base leads to several design and construct contracts secured and relationships built with local sub-contractors.

2009

Ahrens moves into the expansive purpose-built steel manufacturing facility at Kingsford Estate, just north of Gawler, SA, and up the road from their Sheoak Log site. A big catalyst for company growth, it gives Ahrens the advantage of sourcing steel from its own steel fabrication facilities, which have been extended with the addition of a semi-automated shot blast and paint line and a world-class Custom Engineered Building (CEB) line.

Ahrens provides steel for a majority of their projects, which is supplemented by overseas fabricators after the company establishes a global procurement office in China.

2010

Ahrens enters a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) to purchase business assets from MPH Rural, formerly the sister company of Ahrens’ Sherwell business. The contract agreement coincides with the launch of Ahrens’ Agri division and the opportunity to purchase MPH Rural, including its manufacturing facilities in Toowoomba, QLD and Gilgandra, NSW. The move enables Ahrens to manufacture and distribute Sherwell products in QLD and NSW, SA, VIC and Tasmania.

Ahrens purchases Mahon’s Asset Management in Newman, WA. It eventuates in $40M worth of work at the massive Ichthys project. Civil works involves a 45,000sqm office, warehousing and dangerous goods facility.

2011

Ahrens is appointed Construction Manager to deliver an eight-storey car park on Franklin Street, Adelaide CBD for Tritan Corporation. Ahrens is further engaged to supply and erect the structural steel and metal work.

Ahrens acquires Jaeschke Silos in Tarranyurk, Victoria, making Ahrens the biggest manufacturer of field bins and transportable silos in Australia. Jaeschke retains its brand and traditional place in the market alongside Sherwell products.

2012

Ahrens takes over the fabrication, machining and blast and paint operations of Sandvik Mining & Construction at Olympic Dam, SA, and relocates the existing operation to 10 Gunson Street, Olympic Dam. The main benefit of the relocation is the large, more modern workshop facilities and enables Ahrens to extend its range of services and increase their capabilities.

Ahrens is awarded BHP WAIO (Western Australia Iron Ore) Non-Process Infrastructure Contract which leads to the successful delivery of various camp maintenance projects in Newman, WA. The work involves the supply of labour, plant, equipment, materials and other resources required to improve the camp-style accommodation.

2013

Ahrens’ long association with the agriculture sector culminates in the design and construction project for a $40M bulk grain export facility Bunbury, Western Australia. Ahrens is engaged to deliver a new port facility for leading global agri-business and food company, Bunge, which operates in 40 countries.

Ahrens bolsters its mining capabilities, particularly at Olympic Dam, SA, where it acquires Sandvik Mining & Construction and Olympic Dam Precision Engineering, which that same year trades under the Ahrens name.

2014

Ahrens designs and constructs an offshore logistics base as part of Toll INPEX’s multi-billion dollar Icthys LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Project. Ahrens designs the offshore logistics and remotely supports facilities in the Icthys gas field, about 220km off the northwest coast of WA.

Ahrens purchases Barossa Engineering Services, SA, on July 1 taking Ahrens’ employee numbers from 200 in 2010 to 450. The move enables Ahrens to provide a broader range of specialist mechanical, structural and piping services.

2015

Ahrens purchases Pioneer Water Tanks in Perth – a provider of reliable water storage solutions and recognised nationally as a leader in large-scale water storage infrastructure. The association ensures Pioneer remains Australian owned and operated.

Savannah Engineers Pty Ltd in WA established in 1991 by Miro Cecich is acquired by Ahrens. Site operations effectively service the entire Pilbara region and northern goldfields.

2016

Ahrens acquires Parkes Constructions, NSW, part of the building and construction industry since 1985. The collaborative business approach continues to connect Parkes Construction to a stronger global presence and increase Ahrens’ capabilities.

Ahrens introduces a new automated workflow software system for its finance division. The software successful helps to remove paperwork, and more importantly glean real-time information and improve efficiency across Ahrens divisions in Australia. – This needs to be checked.

2017

Ahrens’ work on Coopers Brewery’s $65M malting facility in Regency Park, SA, is recognised on a global scale with the facility named equal best maltster in the world. Ahrens completes the majority of works at a value of $40M and the remainder of the $65M facility consisting of specialised equipment imported from overseas partner, Buhler.

Ahrens commissions its own silo manufacturing line at Sheaoak Log, SA. The expansive silo plant features state-of the-art technology and innovation, using steel fabricated in-house, and designed to truly offer a high-quality Australian made products.

Ahrens Software starts?

2018

WA’s longest established shed business Wheatbelt Steel is acquired by Ahrens in 2017 to complement Ahrens Shed division. Begun by the Draffin family in 1982, the purchase seeks to grow their capabilities and take WA shed to the rest of Australia.

Pioneer Water Tanks take ownership of U.S. master dealer, Acer Water Tanks to grow Ahrens’ tactical presence overseas and strengthen the company’s position as a preferred supplier for water tank solutions.

Cowell Electric, founded in 1928 by 15 local shareholders, is sold to Ahrens. Under Ahrens leadership the company continues to expand, offering a range of specialised energy solutions for clients across the various sectors, including low voltage, high voltage electrical construction and maintenance services, remote areas energy generation, distribution, meter reading and retail of electricity.

2019

Ahrens further expands its position as a one-stop shop with the establishment of a component manufacturing facility in Vietnamese through a joint venture with AM Industries. The move ensures cost-effective solutions to clients and to target other businesses in the Asia Pacific region.

Ahrens acquires the Toowoomba, QLD-based company Southern Cross Water company, first introduced in 1903 with the introduction of one of the first metal windmills. The move ensures the Southern Cross name remains synonymous for providing safe, reliable and cost-effective water storage for the agriculture, municipal, industrial, infrastructure, fire and mining industries.

2021

Ahrens increases its water infrastructure presence by acquiring Altanks in Burleigh Heads, QLD, to further strengthen Ahrens’ position as a national leader in water solutions as well as increase access to alternative markets.

2022

Parkes rebranded too Ahrens Fit Out & Refurbishment – (waiting on details)

Become part of our history.

Ahrens is proud of its 1000-plus employees that represent a diversity of backgrounds and skills which are aligned through a shared set of values, with a desire to be the best they can.

Our team know that their contribution makes a difference and our greatest asset is having the workforce that we value and who adopt projects as their own. This is what it means to be part of the Ahrens family.

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