Today, Ahrens is a national full-service construction, engineering, rural infrastructure 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 and family values, which sets us apart from the rest.
Johann Carl ‘Wilhelm’ Ahrens establishes a blacksmith shop at Sheaoak Log, on the edge of the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
Wilhelm’s wife, Alma was installed as Sheaoak Log postmistress. She held this position for 51 years.
Wilhelm’s son Bill, aged 18, joins the business. The duo work harmoniously at the forge and anvil, and become respected tradesmen in Sheaoak Log and miles beyond.
Wilhelm powers the workshop with the engine from his Overland. It drove a 12- volt lighting plant from the house to workshop.
Before long, more changes occur in the family workshop, with oxy-welding replacing the traditional forge welding.
With the arrival of Sedan cars, the road past Sheaoak Log became busier and Ahrens decided to install a bowser, selling both petrol and oil products from the blacksmith shop.
Sheep feeders become an important product for the business, and the servicing all types of farm machinery continued to be a significant part of the Ahrens business.
An office space was needed, with a wood and asbestos room built to adjoin the workshop. It soon became an extra storage space for work-related requirements.
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.
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.
Bob Ahrens progresses the family business by attending an auction and purchasing a guillotine
for cutting steel, becoming a very important machine in the workshop.
Ahrens start to develop and produce land rollers, stone rollers and silos. They would become a major product for the business for many years and led to the development of larger rollers.
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.
Ahrens employs their first employee – Roy Leske, 36, a qualified blacksmith and mechanic, who previously operated his own business. He continued with Ahrens for more than 37 years.
Bob & 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.
Bob and Marj 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.
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.
New opportunities knock and Ahrens secures its first industrial building –
the Gawler Trotting Club. The custom-built, all steel building led Ahrens into a different era with the business, taking on commercial and industrial work, and the tendering for these types of projects.
Ahrens’ first export request for five chicken sheds to be exported to Libya is secured and Bob received another order from the same client for 18 chicken sheds. It is Ahrens’ biggest order with the project valued at $84,000. With the first silo shed and the chicken sheds underway, Bob & Marj are dealt a blow when a telegraph is received cancelling the buildings.
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.
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.
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.
On June 30, Ahrens starts a board of directors which involved Stef, Bob, Marj and business consultant Michael Lloyd. Michael would be the company’s first external director and guided the board during the new transition from Bob as Managing Director to Stef.
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.
In October Stef & 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.
Cellermaster 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.
Ahrens continues its expansion program with the acquisition of Websters, a silo-making operation based in Oakey, QLD. The business began in 1970 manufacturing farm silos with a capacity of up to 140 tonnes, with Ahrens turning it around.
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 experiences in the construction business across the State.
Ahrens purchases the purpose-built M&S Steel Buildings based in Goombungee, 40km north-west of Toowoomba. Shortly after the purchase, Ahrens merged the business with Webster. The manufacturer of grain silos and staff from Webster were transferred to the expanded facility at Goombungee.
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, specialising in material handling within the grain industry.
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.
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 showcasing 1902.
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 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 subcontractors.
Ahrens secures its largest project to date, design and construct an expansive 70,000sqm distribution centre for Australia’s leading wholesaler and distrubutor – 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 provides steel for majority of their projects, which is supplemented by overseas fabricators after the company establishes a global procurement office in China.
Ahrens moves into the expansive purpose-built steel manufacturing facility at Kingsford SA. 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 purchases business assets from MPH Rural. 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, NSW, SA, VIC & TAS.
Ahrens purchases Mahon’s Asset Management in Newman, WA. It eventuates in $40M worth of work at the significant Ichthys project. Civil works involves a 45,000sqm office, warehousing and dangerous goods facility.
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, VIC, 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.
Ahrens take over the fabrication, machining and blast and paint operations of Sandvik Mining & Construction at Olympic Dam, SA, and relocated the existing operation. 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’ long association with the agriculture sector culminates in the design and construction project for a $40M bulk grain export facility in Bunbury, WA. 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 by acquiring Olympic Dam Precision Engineering, which that same year trades under the Ahrens name.
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.
Ahrens purchases Barossa Engineering Services, SA. The move enables Ahrens to provide a broader range of specialist mechanical, structural and piping services.
Ahrens designs and constructs an offshore logistics base as part of Toll INPEX’s multi-million dollar Ichthys LNG 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 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.
Ahrens acquired 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’ 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.
WA’s longest established shed business, Wheatbelt Steel, is acquired by Ahrens in 2017 to complement Ahrens Shed division. 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 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.
Ahrens further expands its posiiton as a one-stop-shop with the establishment of a component manufacturing facility in Vietnam 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 Southern Cross Water who produced one of the first metal windmills in 1903. 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.
Ahrens becomes a fifth-generation, family-owned Australian company with Ellen Ahrens and Riley Ahrens joining the business.
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.
Ahrens held six individual evening celebrations to celebrate our remarkable 120-year anniversary with festivities in Brisbane, Sydney, Gilgandra, Perth, Newman and Adelaide.
Ahrens purchase Taylors Engineering in Western Australia. Specialists in welding and fabrication that will strengthen Ahrens’ mining and industrial services.