Our History

Since 1877, the Dahlsen family has been dedicated to providing quality building materials to Australian builders. 

More than 140 years of experience as an independent supplier of building materials, and a 100 per cent trade focus, means Dahlsens understands what it takes for builders to get the job done. 

We keep our builders up-to-date with the latest in building news, product innovation, design trends and service offers. Today, we are among Australia’s leading trade suppliers, known for offering reliable foundation to fit out hardware and tools, and trade services for builders. 

Follow our history by viewing each date below:

  • 1863
    John Christian Dahlsen, founder, arrived in Australia. He landed somewhere close to Sale and then headed for North Gippsland in search of gold. The precious metal drove J C Dahlsen all his life. For over forty years, J C Dahlsen stayed involved in the gold mining industry of Gippsland.
  • 1877
    It is said that a lucky gold find in that year led to the beginnings of the hardware business. J C Dahlsen took delivery of a large consignment of timber in early September 1877 and at the same time advertised his intention of commencing a timber yard business.
  • 1880s
    As a storekeeper in the late 1870s, J C Dahlsen foresaw the advantages of shipping as a means of transport, especially between Bairnsdale and fast growing town of Lakes Entrance. The flagship of the Dahlsen fleet was the JCD, named after its owner John Christian Dahlsen. Another member of the fleet was the SS Gippsland.
  • 1924
    In 1924 Dahlsens once more ventured boldly, engaging in contract building in Bairnsdale and throughout East Gippsland. In the inter-war years the company constructed, altered and extended numerous houses. At the time, this seemed to be smart business as Dahlsens were a reputable firm with proven contractors. The demand for housing had soared following the return of soldiers to civilian life, too.
  • 1954
    This was an eventful year for Dahlsens. It extended and modernised the Nicholson Street store. The main purpose of the project was to provide a new fashion and menswear department. It featured sound absorbing ceiling panels and floor tiling. The renovated store opened in September 1954.
  • 1970s
    Dahlsens positioned its business for momentous change, selling a large part of its other businesses to focus on the original core business of timber and hardware. In 1974 Dahlsens bought its site in Macarthur Street in Sale. In 1979 Dahlsens relocated its Bairnsdale outlets to a three acre site in Dalmahoy Street.
  • 1992 - 1995
    In 1992 the main office of Dahlsens moved from Bairnsdale to Springvale in Melbourne. John Dahlsen, the elder son of Keith Dahlsen, became more involved in the family business. A career lawyer, a former chairman of Woolworths, ANZ and Southern Cross Broadcasting and a sitting director of the Melbourne Business School, John launched Dahlsens into its next growth phase. New stores were acquired. By then, Dahlsens had 3 stores operating in the metro market.
  • 2000
    Dahlsens sells its Melbourne metro stores to another family owned chain of hardware stores.
  • 2004 - 2005

    Dahlsens Building Centres were now in 13 cities and towns in regional Victoria. The General Managers over that period of rapid expansion were Derek Dahlsen followed by Bill Dahlsen, who in 1997 was appointed Managing Director.

    In April 2005 Geoff Dahlsen, the son of John Dahlsen, was appointed CEO. Geoff is a trained lawyer and joined the family business in 1991.
  • 2006 - 2008

    In 2006, Cairns Hardware Company, a chain of hardware stores in north Queensland located from Cooktown to Innisfail, was added to J C Dahlsen Pty Ltd.

    Through its acquisition of 3 Hudsons stores, Dahlsens returned to metropolitan Melbourne. The sites in Box Hill, Croydon and Cranbourne joined the group in June 2007. The Cranbourne store is still operational. Croydon was relocated to a new facility in Kilsyth. Unfortunately Box Hill was closed down in late 2011 due to a return to its landlord. Dahlsens opened a store in Laverton in 2007.

    In November 2008, Dahlsens acquired the Nortruss Group based in Darwin. The group comprises 3 hardware stores and frame manufacturing sites.
  • 2011
    In May 2011, a joint venture arrangement acquired Midcoast Timber Centres, a network of stores in metropolitan Sydney and the Central Coast and with a particular focus on the renovation market.
  • 2013 - 2018

    Amidst a rapidly changing competitive landscape in the hardware retail market and a couple of years of fast contraction in housing activity in Victoria, Dahlsens reassessed its offering. The decision was made to re-focus the Victorian business on Trade, the firm’s core business since its early days in 1877. Stores with a strong retail offer were bannered Mitre 10 and the remaining stores were re-laid and re-ranged to focus on the builder market.

    In 2014 J C Dahlsen Pty Ltd (parent company of Dahlsens Building Centres P/L) acquired the remaining interest in Midcoast Timber Centres to give Dahlsens full ownership. The Dahlsen group sees opportunity in buying businesses which share similar family oriented and customer first values. Each subsidiary within the Dahlsen group is managed in its own right, each with challenges both unique and similar in their respective local markets. The ideas and learnings exchanged within the group further concretes the strong market leading position it holds as experts in the distribution of building materials to the industry.

    In October 2015 Dahlsens opened its Pakenham branch, the first new branch to open since the re-structure in 2013. Two new stores then followed in the Gippsland towns of Sale and Warragul in February 2016. Griffith H Hardware in Griffith was acquired in January 2018.

  • Today

    After more than 140 years, Dahlsens is still very much a family business with John Dahlsen owning 100% of J C Dahlsen Pty Ltd. John’s son, Geoff, is CEO and John’s nephew, Jamie, who joined the firm in 2003 after an early career in Engineering, is the General Manager, Innovation and Technology. 

    Dahlsens is now a leading regional and metropolitan distributor of building materials to builders across many parts of Australia. We are also one of the largest truss and frame manufacturers in the country. The Dahlsen group employs over 1000 team members. The company’s mission is to add value to the building process for builders, helping you build better. We do this with a clear focus on our people, our processes and the products and services we offer. 

    This is only the beginning. 

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