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History of the HRIA

The Australian hire industry originated as individual business opportunities in a variety of prospective markets, which gained impetus as these businesses grew and developed.

Today the Australian hire industry is represented by the Hire and Rental Industry Association (HRIA), a national industry association representing 1000+ members in total (550 member companies, plus corporate branches and supplier members).

A look back at the birth of the Hire Industry in Australia

HRIA History – Across the Decades (Part One)

HRIA History – Across the Decades (Part Two)

Early history of the State associations

The HRIA consists of a national executive committee and five state committees (New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia). These committees manage affairs and interests in each state and coordinate efforts and issues (such as changes in WHS legislation or electrical testing & tagging requirements) via the national executive. These committees are governed by safety requirements and regulations as well as affordability and efficiencies of operation, as elsewhere in the world.

However, it was during the 1960s the hire industry in Australia began to attain credibility, when those involved in hire began to establish State associations to give a growing industry a base of operations.

These State associations kept the industry together and put in place foundations, which permitted the industry to grow to its present status.

The first Hire Convention

The first Hire Convention was held at the Hotel Metropole in Sydney on October 12, 1968. Conventions became an annual event with the next three held at Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast, each convention attracting more interstate visitors each year.

Formation of the National Hire Association

In 1973 it was decided to form a National Association. A National Committee was formed with two representatives from participating state associations, NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and the State Associations became members of the National Association.

By 1975 both South Australia and Western Australia had joined the three other states, forming a true National Hire Association.

The early days

Overall in the early days, the hire industry in Australia was a young but growing industry, which was self-educating. Like other businesses of the era, they opened five days a week and closed public holidays. Stock of equipment operated on the supply and demand rule – when you needed another chainsaw, you ordered one.

One-day hire was the shortest hire term. The operations were based on the USA models with Australian hire operators continually visiting the ARA Conventions to keep up with global industry trends. The main areas of participation were in servicing the construction industry.

Kennards were the first company to realise the potential of the domestic market and sub-contractor hire market. But in 1974, following a recession in the construction industry, others started to look towards this market opportunity.

The 1980s

The 1980s was probably the period when hire came of age. A building and construction boom in the mid ‘80s saw increased activity in portable buildings, while elevating work platforms were established as an integral part of the industry. This was accompanied by an increase in opportunity and demand in the domestic market.

The home handyman market continued to grow in the 1990s while elevating work platforms now represent one of the major markets for hire.

The 1990s

In the late 1990s national association councillors decided to look into forming a truly national body. The grand plan was to dissolve state associations and form one national association, and create state branches to represent the individual (then existing) branches.

In July 2000 the Hire and Rental Association changed its name to the Hire and Rental Industry Association and became the national voice of the industry. Since then the industry has grown enormously and the association continues to grow as well.


The progress of the hire industry in Australia has been nothing short of remarkable. However there will always be room for the small suburban hire operation because the customer base of its operation is within a 5km radius and it can supply a better service than anyone outside that radius.

Hire is an ever-growing way of doing business and Australian industry greats are ever growing too. In 2003 the ARA recognised Australian contributions to the rental market by inducting Kennards Hire founder Andy Kennard into the ARA’s Hall of Fame.