Our major operations span Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the United States. We employ over 2,500 people who generate revenue of more than A$1.55 billion a year.
James Hardie started the company as a leather tanning business in Melbourne in 1888. He later recruited fellow Scot Andrew Reid in 1891, importing tannery and curriers supplies. While on a trip in London in 1903, James chanced upon 'fibro-cement', a new type of roofing and lining slate that was made in France, and imported it to Australia.
James Hardie retired in 1911 and sold his half of the business to Andrew Reid, whose family led the expanding business from 1911 until 1995, when his grandson John B Reid retired.
In 1925, the roof of Pipitea Wharf, one of the most exposed buildings in Wellington, was done by Hardies' own fixers who were sent over from Sydney. In 1929, John Knutson moved to New Zealand to represent all Hardie interests in the country.
Although James Hardie started importing to New Zealand in 1906, it wasn't until 1936 when the Fibrolite trade took off that they decided to find a suitable manufacturing plant in Morningside, Auckland. However, the area was taken over as a school site by the Education Department. The company found a bigger site at Penrose.
The New Zealand office was officially established on 07 July 1937. Campbell McDougall from Brisbane headed the office and supervised the building work for the Penrose plant. On July 8, 1938, the plant churned out its first sheet.
The original Penrose plant had only one sheet machine, making both flat and corrugated sheet. The company's first major contract was for the exterior walls of the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition in Wellington in 1940.
From 1940s to 1981, the New Zealand plant went through several upgrades and additions in its manufacturing facilities. Also, the merger of major JH interests in New Zealand occurred in 1981, wherein James Hardie and Phillips and Impey became James Hardie Impey. In this group are trading of importing chemicals, textiles, yarn and machinery, pain, wallpaper and building supplies.
In the mid 1980s, James Hardie pioneered the development of fibre cement technology, and began designing and manufacturing a wide range of fibre cement building products that made use of the benefits that came from the product's durability, versatility and strength.
Today, James Hardie is purely a fibre-cement business. Aside from New Zealand, it has manufacturing operations in the United States, Australia, and the Philippines. The businesses employ over 2,500 people who generate revenue of more than A$1.5 billion a year.
James Hardie is the world market leader in the development of fibre cement building products and related building systems. The company pioneered technology for the manufacture of cellulose fibre reinforced cement as an alternative to asbestos cement in Australia during the early 1980s.
Today, James Hardie is committed to supporting the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) by implementing management strategies and programs in the areas of:
These programs have considerably improved the resource and energy efficiency of our operations and building systems technology. They will also ensure an ongoing improvement in the environmental performance of our products.
James Hardie is a founding participant in the Commonwealth Government's Greenhouse Challenge to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions and undertake emission abatement plans.
Our considerable ongoing research and development program includes formulation, energy, waste water and solid waste reduction, and a life cycle assessment study of fibre cement products.
Considering the availability of the raw resource, its freedom from maintenance, excellent product lifecycle and minimum environmental impact, fibre cement building materials contribute to some of the most energy efficient and environmentally responsible building systems available.