How The Porters Group and Hyne Timber
are the Ultimate Collaboration
This article was written by FTMA’s Kat Welsh
For this Framed Faces we’re honouring 2 men, who when they started out their businesses could not have foreseen what their names would mean today. The connection they built, from humble beginnings, has been a foundation cornerstone for both groups, and for the Australian timber construction and hardware industry as we know it today – driving excellence, modernisation, and the highest standard of quality.
In 1882, Richard Matthew Hyne started up a sawmill on the banks of the Mary River, in Maryborough Queensland. An area steeped in sugar cane, coal mining, and with a rapid population growth, Hyne saw a market for sawmilling and timber production. Not only did Hyne begin a landmark Australian business, he was also went on to become a local member for parliament and later, the setting up of the Queensland Department of Forestry. Today Hyne Timber are renowned for their engineered wood technologies, wood treatments, and their passion for sustainability and climate action advocacy.
In 1883, Charles Porter, a little further north, began his construction business at Mackay. Porter built many local community buildings – now iconic and heritage listed. Porter started a venture that has endured the decades, and is still family owned. The Porters Group today spans across Mackay and The Whitsundays. Charles Porter was significant in beginning the local Master Builders Association, and Porters today are passionate about delivering the highest standard of services and products, and leading the way in supporting the communities however they can. Their Mitre 10 store in Mackay recently took out the title of hardware store of the year at the NTHA awards.
Far Left – R.M. Hyne, 1889.
Photo Credit: State Library Queensland
Left – Charles Porter.
Photo credit: Porters Group
Both businesses have expanded and paved the way forward as giants in their sectors of industry. And… they have a collaboration together that has existed as long as their businesses. Right from the beginning Hyne supplied timber to Porter, as both established, grew, and became renowned symbols for quality, innovation, and reliability. Not many can boast a partnership of 140 years – going strong.
For both businesses, collaboration seems to be key in how they thrive. Hayden Cargill, CEO for the Porters Group, is incredibly proud of this historic connection. “With such a long-term relationship we leverage off the Hyne brand name in our trade businesses, both Porters and Hyne are well known names in the industry and we use that to our advantage. Porters pride themselves on relationships and being aligned with key brands across all of our businesses.”
When Porter and Hyne started out in the 1880’s both Mackay and Maryborough were considered frontier towns. The 2 communities were struggling to survive in the harsh landscapes, and existence was very different from the parts of Europe most had originated from. When Porter started his construction endeavours in Mackay, the town needed infrastructure. Porter sourced wood from the newly opened milling business that Hyne had set up, to begin making his mark. Many of the early municipality buildings that Porter built, including the Empress of India Hotel, and Mackay’s historic town hall, still stand strong today – made out of Hyne timber. “Way back when our relationship started our orders were shipped from Maryborough to the wharves in River street Mackay, we then transported the goods by horse and carriage to our store in Brisbane street,” Hayden said.
Being a developing colonial outpost, Australia was rapidly attracting migrants desperate for a better life. The result of which can often be chaos when there is not a developed community structure. Both Porter and Hyne were diligent in setting honourable standards for the timber and construction industry. Porter was instrumental in the establishing of a branch of the Master Builders Association – a partnership that still endures today. Porter set up the first hardware store in Mackay, to assist the community and better supply his construction business.
Porters Hardware Mackay. Photo credit: Porters Group.
Hyne understood the need to invest in the materials of his trade and make a sustainable future for timber in Australia. Whilst he was a committed Queensland Member of Parliament, in 1889, he advocated for and ultimately created Queensland’s first Department of Forestry – to implement responsible best practices for logging and regrowth. He knew that Australian forests could be sustainably managed and cared for, and supply the needs of the industry, with correct policies in place. Hyne was also a campaigner for community, and used his position to advocate for equal rights for women, workers’ rights, education, and health care.
When times were tough, Hyne and Porter saw each other through the hardships, like any good partnership. “Both companies have been through highs and lows being around for 140 years, and have continually supported each other during this time. Having such a long-term relationship allows us to be open and honest with each other at all times,” Hayden said.
Throughout the years, the 2 businesses and families have remained close, and connected. They have provided each other with assistance, and vision. “There was a long period of time where Hyne was on the Porters’ board, we are still in regular contact daily with the Hyne customer service team, management and BDM. As often as we can we take groups of our customers to Hyne’s operational plants and sawmills to give our customers an understanding of the process to get a length of framing timber made from the forest to our warehouses as well as the advanced technology used by Hyne,” Hayden said. These collaborations over the years prove that when people come together ingenuitive transformations happen.
Both businesses have evolved and maintained the integrity of their founders to this day, with strong emphasis on quality, sustainability, and community – everything that is at the core of their collaboration together, they project outwards too. They understand the importance of fully caring for employees and the responsibility of assisting their communities. “Porters support the community through sponsorships as well as allowing clubs to undertake fundraising events on our sites. Our latest sponsorship was involving local cricket in a new competition called Porters T20 Smash which was played last month, this was a huge successful event. We have always made sure we do what we can for the community and get involved with numerous events throughout the year, including as many school events as possible, even down to teaching grade ones how to pot plants!” Hayden said.
Hyne Timber, are maintaining the pathways of their founding father, partnering and establishing groups such as the Timber Framing Collective – dedicated to bringing the timber framing sector together and spreading the message that timber is The Ultimate Renewable™ for the future of our planet. Another alliance for Hyne, is that with their Scottish partner group James Jones & Sons, one the first businesses in the UK to gain Forest Stewardship Council accreditation, for harvesting, sawmilling, and timber engineering. Hyne Timber is continuing all the ethics that their founder spent his life’s work petitioning for.
The amazing thing that is evidenced through Porters, Hyne Timber, and their further partnerships, is that greater things are achieved when we do it collectively. Sharing knowledge, building together, and fostering connections grows a stronger forest – one that will endure the test of time. In the world of business, success is often measured by profit margins and market domination. However, there is an intangible factor that can greatly impact a business’ longevity and innovation – collaboration. Porters and Hyne Timber are proving that collaboration plays a significant role in building stronger and sustainable businesses, communities, and how we care for our environment.
Photo credit: Porters Group
Porters and Hyne Timber, have an amazing anniversary to celebrate – 140 years is truly an epic achievement. And while they’ve been through tough times and prosperous times, together is the central word here; together is how 140 years can be accomplished and celebrated. If Hyne and Porter could see what both these groups were doing now, they would’ve been extremely proud. Both families, and devoted employees over the years, have taken the beginnings of these 2 great men, and continued everything noble that they worked so hard to create and advocate for – developing an impressive legacy in ever-expanding directions.
“There are not many businesses out there that get to be 140 years old, let alone have a 140 year-long business relationship. This is a significant milestone that we have reached with Hyne but you will not see something like this very often. I am proud to say that I have been part of that journey and look forward to continuing this relationship into the future,” Hayden said.
Happy anniversary to the Porters Group and Hyne Timber partnership.
L-R: Jeremy Mead, James Hyne, Barry Porter, Gavin Porter, Paul Porter, Hayden Cargill, presenting the Porters Mitre 10 with a commemorative axe. Photo credit: Hyne Timber.