James Hardie is a leading international building materials company and a global leader in fibre cement, one of the world's fastest growing building products.
James Hardie Industries NV (JHINV) was created in December 2001, after shareholders voted to accept a unanimous recommendation by the board of James Hardie Industries Limited (JHIL) to restructure the company and establish a new parent company (JHINV) incorporated in the Netherlands.
The new structure is designed to position the company for further international growth, and generate higher returns for shareholders than were possible under the previous structure. James Hardie Industries NV now heads the James Hardie group of companies, with operations around the world.
The predecessor to these modern companies was established more than 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 business, importing oils and animal hide tanning products.
The second major figure in the company's history, Andrew Reid, was born on January 24, 1867, near Linlithgow in Scotland. He knew James Hardie and maintained contact from Glasgow, where he worked as a Shipping Clerk. Encouraged by prospects in Australia, Andrew arrived in Melbourne in March 1892 and soon after joined James Hardie's business, becoming a full partner in 1895. Andrew Reid was outgoing, energetic and visionary and his talents combined well with Hardie's sound commercial judgement.
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.
A publicly-owned company, James Hardie Industries Ltd, was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1951. In the following years, the company built up a diverse portfolio of building and industrial products businesses.
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.
Using the technical and manufacturing expertise it developed in Australia, James Hardie expanded its operations to become a world-leading, specialised, high-technology manufacturer of a wide range of fibre cement building materials.
Today, James Hardie is purely a fibre-cement business. It operates in markets around the world, with manufacturing operations in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Chile. The businesses employ over 2,500 people who generate revenue of more than A$1.5 billion a year.