30 October 2020

A Banner four decades of serving the community in hardware

Rod Evins - home renovation and hardware

Rod Evins

Higher Certificate in Building Technology
Founder of Banner Hardware

One thing is for certain: Rod Evins’ memory is almost as sharp as his business acumen. Now in his mid-seventies, the founder of Banner Hardware recalls his long and illustrious career with great detail, acknowledging everyone that has had an impact on his career by their full name.

This attention to detail and consideration Rod speaks with is a hallmark of the strong family values and local business thoughtfulness Banner Hardware stores and his other business ventures were built on.

Over the course of his five-decade career, and three generations of family in the building and hardware business, the entrepreneurial ideas man has definitely made his mark with an innate knack for the industry.

In 1979, Rod brought his first hardware store from Kauri Timber as did five other individuals, and during a 1980 meeting to decide on a name for the umbrella of hardware stores – before anyone had a chance to formally start the meeting – Rod had a brainwave.

“We needed to have a name that was all-encompassing and at this meeting we have the agenda in front of us,” says Rod. “And at the top it said banner title: to talk about the name of the business, what we’re going to call it, and go onto to market.”

“I was looking at the piece of paper before the meeting and I went ‘banner title’. Wow – a banner – that can be it. So, I said we’ve got the name here, look at this: ‘Banner’ and started drawing a banner like a flag.”

Banner Hardware
The iconic Banner Hardware logo adopted all-round the state

“Banner Hardware. We’re the flagship stores, the flag you should fly, the place to go to. It was just astounding the whole room went silent and it was adopted!”

Banner Hardware’s catchy marketing ploys paid off with the company spending the next two decades riding high on increasing interest in home improvement and demand for hardware, eventually expanding to 23 stores across the state in the late nineties.

Rod also had a unique and valuable perspective thanks to his background in construction.

After school, Rod embarked on tertiary education in Building Technology at what was then the South Australian Institute of Technology (SAIT), in the hopes of joining his father’s construction company alongside his brother, John.

While studying part-time he initially worked for P.C. Russell & Partners quantity surveyors, and then was assistant project manager on the $50M John Martin’s Carpark North Terrace project.

Despite his increasing professional success Rod did, however, begin to struggle in completing his study with everything else on his plate, when a lecturer he saw as a mentor provided some guidance and inspiration.

Banner - Home Hardware
(Left) Rod poses with a commemoration plaque featuring some vintage photos of Banner stores. (Right) Rod hold up an image of the original HardMart store c. 1980 on the corner of Fullarton and Magill Road, now the Norwood Banner Mitre 10 store.

“He said, Rod, come on you can do this, and he encouraged me to do it,” he says. “I know if you don’t, you’ll look back and wish you had.”

“I learned there’s a real importance and value in communicating to senior members or those high up in your organisation. To sit down and just have a chinwag with the insight and confidence that you're quite capable of doing this.”

“That has been something I've remembered all through my life and have taken up in my own career coaching and mentoring the next generation.”

Rod says his time at university gave him a strong foundation in which he was able to build the walls of his career success up higher than he could have ever imagined. This proved salient when he joined the family building company, J. H. Evins Industries, alongside his father and brother, building schools, government buildings and running the new housing division for the next 10 years.

When in the late seventies, through an external director of the building company, the family was given the opportunity to buy a Homestead Blackwood hardware store and diversify into wholesale and retail.

The team looked at the figures and gauged the potential, eventually buying the store, taking possession on the 3rd September 1979. It was assumed that Rod – “the entrepreneurial one” – would look after the business under his portfolio.

rebranded Banner Mitre 10 store
Rod in a rebranded Banner Mitre 10 store with sons, Matthew and James, who also served as Managing Director and Marketing Director for the company

This marked a significant career change for Rod as it simultaneously sparked a passion for retail and marketing in the space. Soon he acquired and rebranded an empty Freeman Motors warehouse on Fullarton Road as HardMart – a discount building material store to rival Lloyds with some more clever marketing tactics.

The store proved a roaring success and Rod was all set on his new trajectory.

In the next few years, he would build up his portfolio of stores with business booming under the Banner Hardware umbrella and be joined by his two sons, Matthew and James (he also has a daughter with wife, Loi), just like he and his brother twenty years before joined their own father in the family business.

In 2013, amongst an ever-changing retail landscape in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis, Banner Hardware joined forces with Mitre 10 to merge into the Banner Mitre 10 network of seven hardware stores, supported by a trade distribution centre, two frame and truss manufacturing plants, plus a home selection centre and Beaumont Tiles in Mount Gambier.

During this time, he made significant contributions to the industry as chairman for 13 years of the largest independent hardware group, National Building Suppliers Group (NatBuild), and was also elected to the board of the National Federation of Hardware & Housewares Hardware Federation.

He’s also been chairman of the Hardware Association and the Hardware Association of South Australia and in this role, Rod spearheaded the Hardware Young Person of the Year Awards with the valuable program still persisting today.

Rod congratulating 2016 Hardware Young Person
Rod congratulating 2016 Hardware Young Person of the Year nominees and winner at the Hardware Association of SA Gala Awards

What is one of the important messages Rod makes sure he gives each of these young people for encouragement?

“Visualize you're 35-years-old or whatever milestone you are heading towards. What are you doing? It's amazing things usually.

“So, I say to them, you've got to have that vision because it’s like a roadmap and if you haven't got a destination, how do you know where you're going to go?”

After successfully helming his celebrated family-owned business with that signature integrity for four decades, radically expanding the retail reach beyond anything he could have ever imagined, Rod still believes it’s important to share his endless depths of knowledge – championing those values that made each of the Banner Hardware stores “the flag to fly”. 

“It's a wonderful way of creating your intent and what you want, otherwise if you don't have it, you can lose yourself. I say that in the fact that you can create your own adventures too, create your challenges in life, and look to really enjoy those things.”

“It’s been a fascinating journey for me to be able to do the things I've done and certainly been fun – it’s been a tremendous career. I’m very proud of it.”

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