Supporting builders at every stage of the project
Bowens has over 35 industry trained, experienced sales representatives helping builders with onsite advice and product support, ensuring no down time occurs and that materials arrive on time. Our representatives are backed by almost 500 friendly and professional staff, offering quality advice and personalised service.
We proudly provide builders with an extensive range of trade-grade, well-priced building materials and hardware. This includes prefabricated roof trusses and wall frames, timber and windows, feature flooring, portable onsite hire, framing, outdoor, lock-up and fixing materials with a complete range of general and builders’ hardware.
To further support our customers throughout every stage of the building process, we offer services such as Delivery, Call in Express and On-Site Expert Advice.
1899 - 1908
The Second Industrial Revolution
It was the era of electric streetlights, the first ever Victorian Football League (now AFL), when Melbourne was Australia’s capital city and the beginning of a little company called Bowens & Pomeroy.
As the company began to grow, on March 7, 1899, a newspaper press release proudly announced Bowen & Pomeroy to the growing population of Melbourne, helping to solidify the company as a household name.
1909 - 1914
Between 1909 – 1914, Bowens staff numbers doubled to more than 100 but dropped to 60 after WW1. Proudly, the company saw a number of its people serve in France and other parts of Europe.
1918 - 1936
The Great Depression
The post war period saw a time of boom for Melbourne, and the Bowens company with the first wave of migrants and the return of servicemen and women.
Bowens became heavily involved with government funded soldier settlement housing around Gippsland and the Mallee. Victoria was well and truly on the road to industrial development, with the introduction of electric trains, the birth of cheap power in the Latrobe valley and large-scale investments by overseas multi corporations.
Helping Victoria build this growth, Bowens imported one of the first ever motion roller recutting bandsaws into Victoria. This was purchased to fore-fill an order to supply three-hundred and sixty thousand super fleet of Oregon beams and framing to build the Ford motor factory in Geelong.
It was around this time in 1924 that tragedy struck the company with the passing of Richard Bowen (aged 59) and Redmond Pomeroy (aged 66), within a three-month period. As John Bowen – Richards only son – was still a young boy, Charles Barrass stepped-up to fill the role of manager until John Bowen completed his education, joined the business and became managing director in 1931.
During the great depression, staff numbers tumbled to 30 with the business almost closing. Right throughout Australia, businesses were decimated, families were losing their homes, people struggled to make ends meet. But Bowens and its people survived the economic downturn, through a strong resilience of spirit and a ‘never say die’ attitude which continues today.
With John Bowen at the helm, Bowen & Pomeroy were faced the daunting prospect of suppling timber for a variety of projects after the outbreak of World War 2 including the Ballarat Army Camp and American Army and Airforce bases in the pacific.
1936 - 1967
Baby Boomers & Pop Culture
After the War, Melbourne grew rapidly and Bowens along with it.
By the mid 50’s most homes owned a TV set, the first ever passenger jet entered service and ‘Rock and roll’ embraced themes popular among teenagers, such as young love and rebellion against authority.
In the summer of 1956, the ‘Games of the XVI Olympiad’ (Olympic games) was hosted in Melbourne and Bowens proudly supplied timber for the temporary seating across various venues.
By the mid-sixties, Bowens began its expansion into the suburbs and in 1966, the company opened its first branch in the outer Melbourne suburb of Mount Evelyn.
Four years later came a branch at Hastings.
The following year, on May 9, tragedy struck again with the sudden death of John Bowen at the age of 61.
His eldest son John at the age of 27, became managing director.
Ahead of the Times
In 1974 – and around the same time Prime Minister Gough Whitlam installed a range of radical reforms – John Bowen travelled to the United States and returned to Australia convinced that the future of the company lay in further expansion into the suburbs. He always saw an untouched opportunity within the “Do it Yourself’’ and Home Renovation markets, not yet popular amongst Australians.
1976 - 1994
Being ahead of the times, in July 1976 Bowens opened its Home Improvement centre in Bentleigh East (Formally Oakleigh South).
Over a relatively short space of time, an existing business was purchased at Croydon, a new complex was built at Bundoora, a satellite branch was opened in South Melbourne, an existing timber yard at Rowville was purchased. A satellite branch for Bundoora was opened in Preston and Oregon sawing facilities were move to Hastings from North Melbourne.
With a further vision of changing market trends, a truss plant was also started in Hastings. In the late eighties, one of the most modern complexes’ seen in Victoria was built at Hallam.
A major recession had hit Australia in the early 1990s. In Victoria building approvals for new residential units had decreased by 25% from the previous year and the overall value of building had increased by a mere 1.8%. Nevertheless, there were signs of improvement in the economy, particularly in Victoria. As the company celebrated its 100-year anniversary, it opened a new store in Taylors Lakes and by the end of that year, the change in the market provided them with ‘a real focus, driving the business towards the builder market and by the end of 1995, Bowens had reason to be cautiously optimistic about the future. During 1999, pre-fabrication services were expanded at Hastings and they were considering offering a full ‘supply and erect’ service as many builders were looking for this. By the end of 1999 Bowen’s had employed 400 people.
With cautious optimism in March 2001 Bowens acquired land at Laverton in Melbourne’s west to develop a new store. This was Bowens’ first new development since Taylors Lakes was built in 1994. It was also the company’s first venture into the geographic region within reach of Geelong. Nevertheless, the design of the store at Laverton showed that Bowens were increasingly aware of catering for customers to make their visit more convenient and more comfortable. The layout allowed for better access with an undercover drive through area. Jack Bowen had announced that he would be taking a step back and hand over the reins to his eldest son, John Bowen, effective from July 2005. An exciting major project came into Bowens’ purview that same year – the Commonwealth games village in Parkville, Melbourne. The village, which was designed to house around 6000 athletes and officials, incorporated the heritage site of the former Royal Park Psychiatric Hospital on a 20-hectare site.
Bowens was delighted to announce that ‘after 113 years’ they had made their way into regional Victoria by acquiring Geoff’s Timber Supplies in Shepparton and Phillip Island. Being able to cater for builders in places like Shepparton and Phillip Island was one of the reasons for establishing regional branches. By mid-2008, Bowens employed over 500 staff, including 35 external sales representatives, had 12 trading branches, two pre-fabrication sites, and sold over 28,000 product lines which is interesting to note that while Bowens was expanding its business in 2008, at exactly the same time the world was facing a major recession.
2011 - Present
Bowens acquisition of Timbertruss in August 2011 was a major investment. Bowens had known since the 1990s that having a prefabrication arm to the business was essential but struggled over the years to make this an efficient and profitable enterprise. With sites in Geelong, Dandenong, and Brisbane, Timbertruss is now the largest prefab supplier in Australia and continues to innovate and grow across the building industry. Since 2015, Bowens has opened three new stores in Port Melbourne (2015), Brunswick (2017) and Pakenham (2018). In the 25 years, since 1994 when Bowens celebrated its first 100 years, there have been significant changes in building styles, building practices and also in building regulations. Many of these changes have been reflected in the way Bowens does business and the products it sells.