South Australian infrastructure and farm equipment maker, Ahrens, has retrieved one of agriculture’s best known brands from foreign ownership, buying the Southern Cross windmill and water tank business.
Southern Cross, established in Queensland after the Toowoomba foundry began making wooden windmills based on US designs in the 1890s, has been bought from water equipment multinational, Pentair.
Ahrens, which builds silos, sheds and Pioneer water tanks, has acquired Pentair’s Australian tank and windmill divisions.
The deal includes Southern Cross tanks and windmills, plus Encon Modular Tanks and Australian Panel Tanks, prominent names in water supply and storage in agricultural, municipal, industrial, infrastructure, and mining sector markets in Australia and New Zealand.
All will now operate under the new banner of Southern Cross Water.
No purchase price details have been disclosed.
Southern Cross has a rich cultural significance in Australian history and we look forward to taking this brand to another level- Stefan Ahrens
Southern Cross emerged as Australia’s first pump brand name in 1903, growing into a thriving business in the 1920s and ‘30s.
Its windmills became synonymous with Australian rural landscapes, also selling in Africa and the Middle East.
By the Second World War the company employed more than 1000 staff in Toowoomba and was making pumps and water equipment for Australian, US and British armed forces.
The founding Griffiths family eventually sold to National Consolidated in 1987, with the Southern Cross name changing hands again in 1999 to become part of Tyco Flow, then in 2012 to US-headquartered, Pentair, a big player in water treatment technology, and household, industrial agricultural and aquaculture markets.
New owner, Ahrens, has rich farm sector origins, too, starting in the Barossa Valley in 1906 and still family-owned.
Managing director, Stefan Ahrens, was proud to be bringing one of the nation’s most iconic rural brands back into local hands.
“Southern Cross has a rich cultural significance in Australian history and we look forward to taking this brand to another level,” he said.
It would be supported by the strength of the company’s West Australian-based Pioneer water tanks business, acquired in 2015, which also has operations in the US.
“The products coming with this acquisition are highly complementary to Ahrens’ existing water tank business, giving us tank manufacturing bases on both the east and west coast,” Mr Ahrens said.
“We’ll be able to increase total production capacity and allow improved servicing of Australian and international customers.
“The panel tanks business has a great range of fire tanks so this will expand our current water tank range to include both round and rectangular fire tanks, and increase our capabilities in the commercial water tanks business.”
We plan to release fire tanks to the US market- Stefan Ahrens
Ahrens’ tank business was well-positioned for significant growth over the next few years.
“We plan to release fire tanks to the US market through our base in San Marcos, Texas,” he said.
“The acquisition also gives Ahrens the opportunity to grow our tank maintenance capabilities to customers.”
Ahrens has 24 offices and factories around Australia, employing about 900 staff involved in a range of engineering, construction and steel fabrication ventures.
He said the Southern Cross move was part of a strategic plan to add further scale to the company’s goal of becoming Australia’s number one provider of rural infrastructure solutions for silos, sheds and water tanks.
“From water to hay to grain and equipment, Ahrens aims to provide a solution to protect all your assets on the farm and this move affirms our offering as a one-stop shop.”
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