At George Fethers we are very proud of our rich heritage and our status as one of Australia’s longest running companies.
Our roots go all the way back to 1865 and the foundation of Jules Renard & Co, a small Melbourne trading company importing building supplies.
In 1900 the business was renamed George Fethers & Co to reflect a change of ownership.
Around this time a young man was hired as an office boy. He later went on to buy the company in 1930 and today, 85 years later, George Fethers is still run by this young man’s family.
Having survived the great flood of 1891, two depressions and two World Wars, we still trade by the same name and with the same commitment to deliver superior products and an exceptional level of service.
Founded in 1865
From a Melbourne laneway
The origins of George Fethers begins with the establishment of Jules Renard & Co., importers of building commodities, including cement. The firm operates out of an office in Church Lane, off Collins Street in central Melbourne.1865
Trading wool for glass
By 1890 Jules Renard & Co. starts importing glass from Belgium in exchange for wool.1890
The great flood puts a strain on the business
On the 13th of July 1891 Melbourne experiences the greatest flood since the city was founded. The wharf, where Jules Renard & Co.’s imports and exports goods, is completely destroyed by the raging waters of the Yarra River. In the face of these difficulties George Fethers became involved in the management of the business.1891
Jules Renard retires and Bernam Perkins is hired
Mr George Fethers takes full ownership of the business when Jules Renard retires in the early 1890s. By 1900 Fethers changes the name of the business to George Fethers & Co. and advertises for an office boy. One of those who answer is 12-year-old Bernam Perkins, who is hired on the spot.1893
The Great War obstructs business
Business is initially thriving in the early years of the century, but the Great War soon begins obstructing trade. By 1917, shipments from Belgium are no longer coming through, forcing Bernam Perkins to travel to the United States in search of a new glass supplier.1914
George Fethers & C0. becomes the first PPG glass agency outside the United States
Bernam Perkins has been in correspondence with the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Co. and a visit to Pittsburgh in 1917 sees George Fethers & Co. become PPG’s first agency outside the United States. Our partnership with PPG is still strong today, almost 100 years later.1917
Bernam Perkins buys the business and the Great Depression sets in
The 1930s is a challenging decade as many of George Fethers & Co.’s biggest clients are going bankrupt. Business slowly recovers by the end of the decade, only to be interrupted yet again by the Second World War.1930s
WWII breaks out
Obstruction of international trade, with financial hardship as a result, continues throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s, when a ban is placed on imports from PPG, due to Australia’s inability to afford the U.S. Dollar.1939
The company enters the veneer business
A difficulty with trade from PPG means that George Fethers & Co. must find new areas of business, beyond glass. Throughout the 1950s the company expands to dealing in veneer. Bernam Perkins passes away in 1958.1950
A third generation takes over
The third generation of the Perkins family take over the business.1980s
Flooring becomes a core part of the business
On the brink of a new millennium, George Fethers & Co. introduces timber flooring as a central part of the business.1999
A fourth generation enters the company
140 years since the business was founded, the fourth generation becomes involved in the business.2005
Lignapal is launched
George Fethers launch our first pre-finished veneer product, Lignapal.2007
The building additives division is born
The company begins supplying the construction industry with building additives and George Fethers & Co.’s products are used in the construction of a range of prominent constructions.2011
George Fethers & Co. starts dealing in stone
The company introduces Senstone, the company’s first stone brand.2012
Thermally formed decorative surfaces arrive
In response to an increasing interest from customers in alternative vertical solutions, George Fethers & Co. introduces laminates through Italian manufacturer CLEAF.2015