An Aussie Icon Celebrates 60 Years

A washing dilemma in the Hill household lead to the start of a multi-billion dollar industry…Lance Hill pictured with one of his Hoists

One of Australia’s most famous icons – the Hills Hoist – is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. It was 1945, in the Adelaide suburb of Glenunga, that Lance Hill decided to do something about the problem his wife, Sherry, was having with her washing getting caught in the trees. So, Lance scrounged some old water pipe and wire and dragged his oxy-acetylene gear into the shed and couple of days later staggered out with a weird contraption that was destined to become world famous – the Hills Hoist rotary clothesline. Together with his brother-in-law, Harold Ling, the two men started a manufacturing enterprise that would grow from a humble backyard operation into a multi-national company. In 1946, the Hills Hoist was officially launched and the orders came rolling in. Army salvage trucks were purchased to keep up with deliveries. By 1948, the hoist was selling for 11 pounds and was in such demand that the new Hills factory could scarcely keep pace. By the early 1950s the company had expanded interstate and overseas, and was diversifying. Realising that television was on the way, Hills utilized their expertise in tube manufacturing to design and produce a range of television antennae. Today, Hills is the largest antenna producer in the country. In 1959, Hills entered the television repair business with the launch of Hills Telefix. Hills has continued to diversify through acquisition and now includes companies such as Bailey Ladders, Kelso Wheelbarrows, Direct Alarm Supplies and Triton Manufacturing. Keeping pace with changing times, the Hills Hoist has undergone a series of improvements over the years and to celebrate the 60th anniversary, new models have been released. The new generation of Hills Hoists are transportable, easy to store and feature collapsible arms. “Householders are able to pack away their hoist when it is not in use to maximize valuable yard space,” said Barry Sharpe, Hills Industries’ General Manager – Marketing. The hoists now come with a handy ‘parking block’ for storage purposes. “Originally used as a packaging device, the parking block now doubles as a handy storage apparatus,” said Sharpe. “It can be bolted to any outdoor wall, garage, or garden shed, with the hoist fitting securely in its grip.”

You will find more news items on the hardware industry in Australian Hardware Journal’s March issue.