Neville Kennard, who was a pioneer of the hire industry in Australia and played a pivotal role in the development of Kennards Hire
, has died at the age of 74.
The type of company Kennards Hire is today is largely due to his influence.
Nev, as he was known, was just 23 when he began running the fledgling business started by his father Walter in 1948.
In 1962, he bought the firm and, two years later, was joined as a partner by his younger brother Andy. Together, they built Kennards Hire into the largest family-owned hire company in Australia.
The brothers amicably split their business interests in 1991, and Neville Kennard, together with his son Sam, developed Kennards Self Storage into one of the biggest operations of its kind in Australia and New Zealnd.
Mr Kennard died on June 3 after a short illness. He is survived by his wife Gaby, the celebrated solo around-the-world aviatrix, three sons, Sam, Walt and Jim, his first wife Roddy, and six grandchildren.
"Nev was the most wonderful brother and business partner to me. I will miss him terribly," Andy Kennard said.
A great entrepreneur and trail-blazer, Neville Kennard was responsible for many new and innovative ideas and methods of operation in both industries.
He introduced self storage to Australia in 1974, building several units at the rear of Kennards Hire Moorebank. He had seen the concept in its infancy in the US and would say later, “It was one of those things that just clicked”.
Neville Kennard also founded the organisation that grew into the Hire and Rental Industry Association of Australia. Despite the scepticism of many, he brought competitors together to share their knowledge and experience, and work collectively to improve the industry.
He did the same thing when he moved fully into self storage, and was instrumental in establishing what is today the Self Storage Association of Australasia.
Mr Kennard will be remembered not only for his achievements in hire and self storage, but also as a philosopher, political activist, adventurer and one of Australia’s earliest "greenies" who despised waste and supported early environmental causes .
While he had minimal formal business training, he would say he had "a PhD from UHK" (University of Hard Knocks)". He devoured books and ideas, exhibited exceptional curiosity about what might or might not work, and soaked up information from conferences and personal development courses.