Ken Hands Agencies P/L was registered in late 1980 and opened its office in 1981 albeit on the dining room table at the home of it’s founder Ken Hands who’s career in the Hospitality industry began in 1943 as a junior salesman with K. G. Luke Group Industries and rose to become Managing Director of Luke Nettlefold which was the leading importer and supplier to both the distributors and end users Australia wide with branches in each State.
Ken’s extensive buying trips which began in the early 60’s through Europe and Asia secured many Agencies and was at the forefront of overseas product sourcing and opened the way for new products to enter the Australian Market. Luke Nettlefold led the Industry for many years and was the source of supply to all in the Hospitality field.
In 1980 the Luke Group was sold and headed in a new direction so Ken decided to do the same and formed Ken Hands Agencies. From humble beginnings the first shipment arrived from Sunnex, teaware, oval platters and some sugar bowls followed by 501 cutlery. Ken was salesman, accounts, storeman and delivery man with orders delivered within hours of being placed in the old station wagon. Interstate orders were despatched same day without fail thus beginning a service that the Company is renowned for today.
The warehouse was the rear of a shop in Chapel Street Windsor which soon became too small to operate from so in 1984 Ken put a deposit on a warehouse at 220-228 Roden St West Melbourne. This too quickly filled with new product ranges and increased stock holdings. The one man show became two in 1986 when Ken’s son John joined the business. Another station wagon to deliver the local orders and a hand to pack the interstate orders and the business was growing rapidly. In July 1988 the Company employed its first staff member who stayed with the Company for 21 years.
In 1993 an opportunity arose to acquire the building next door at 212-218 Roden Street which was a welcome addition for space and allowed for a showroom.
More and more products followed, cutlery, cookware, cutting boards and shelving, again space became the enemy. In late 1998 the Company purchased the 2000 sq metre property and a showroom that doubled in size in Flemington which we occupy today. At first it seemed impossible that this warehouse could ever be filled but it soon became apparent it could.
Travelling to the manufacturing hotspots became more essential as the world shifted its manufacturing base to China so new relationships had to be built to get solid reliable supply. We are proud to say in some instances we have had relationships with Suppliers that go back to our beginning and continue today, a trust relationship that has been invaluable for our growth and reliability in supplying quality products.
In 2003 we diversified into the Healthcare field and our range has become the market leader and will continue to be with additions to the range. At this time John became Managing Director as Ken took a step back albeit still heavily involved even today in his late 80’s. Our product list continued to grow to over 1000 lines with the help of our suppliers, customers and changes in market demands.
In 2013 we decided to enter the glassware business and purchased the rights of several brands from GCI. With the vast volume of glass required to supply the Industry an additional warehouse was purchased in Sunshine West which now houses our bulk glass and healthcare products as stock holdings are the key to regular uninterrupted supply to our valued customers.
Over the journey our staff have been our most important asset and we are proud to say that when people join KHA they stay long term and are now recognised as Industry professionals with long histories in the Hospitality supply field.
With ever increasing challenges and changes in the Industry and indeed the World, we plan to adapt to these changes and face them head on as we look forward to our customers continued support as we grow together.