James Hardie was established over 100 years ago, in 1888, when the enterprising young James Hardie left his family’s tannery business in Scotland and immigrated to Melbourne, Australia, in search of new opportunities. Capitalising on his experience, James started a business importing oils and animal hide tanning products, before expanding into building materials.
The second major figure in the company’s history, Andrew Reid, knew James from childhood and maintained contact from Glasgow, where he worked as a shipping clerk. Encouraged by prospects in Australia, Reid arrived in Melbourne in 1892 and joined Hardies’ business, soon becoming a full partner. Reid was outgoing, energetic and visionary, and his talents combined well with Hardies’ sound commercial judgment.
James Hardie retired in 1911 and sold his half of the business to Reid, whose family led the expanding operations from 1911 until 1995, when his grandson John B. Reid retired. The company was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1951 and continued building up a diverse portfolio of building and industrial products businesses.
In the mid-1980s, we pioneered the development of fibre cement technology, and began designing and manufacturing a wide range of fibre cement building products that maximised the benefits that come from the product’s durability, versatility and strength.
Using the technical and manufacturing expertise we developed in Australia, our company grew to become a world-leading, specialised, technologically advanced manufacturer of a wide range of fibre cement building materials.