About Us - A Family Tradition
A Family Tradition
From humble beginnings as a Melbourne grain store, the McKenzie's of today has grown and evolved through a rich, often troubled history.
It began when William and Frances Ward arrived in Australia in 1852 and established a hay and corn store in King St, Melbourne. Their son, Harold Seymour Kellam (HSK) Ward was born in 1863 and put his name to the family company.
Meanwhile, James F McKenzie had begun a small food production company, also in Melbourne, that would much later be acquired by the Ward family.
In the 1880s and 1890s, HSK developed and grew the Ward business, expanding the product range to meet customer needs. The business flourished and moved to progressively larger sites in Flinders Lane (1890) and Spencer Street (1910).
HSK's three sons became involved in the company on his retirement in 1925 with Harold appointed managing director on HSK's death in 1934. The company faced lean times during the depression years, when margins were slim.
In 1950, after Harold's sudden death, his 19 year-old son David was thrust into the business. He set about revitalising and updating to ensure the company remained competitive. Despite his best efforts, profits steadily waned and by 1966, the future looked dismal.
A timely opportunity for a fresh start came with the acquisition of the McKenzie business, which comprised profitable activities to complement Ward's. From December 1967 the new entity traded as Ward, McKenzie Pty Ltd.
The company's future depended on keeping pace with technology. The introduction of new machine-packaging helped lead the way and by 1977 it was strong enough to move to modern, purpose-built premises in Altona.
In 1981, David's son Steve joined the company and over the next decade was instrumental in its expansion as a national operation. David's daughter Helen returned to the company in 1990 and her husband Callum Eddington in 1994. Today the three are joint managing directors of Ward McKenzie, proudly continuing the family tradition which began when Melbourne was just a settlement.