Katanning Stock and Trading Co is the oldest surviving business in Katanning
still in its original position on the corner of Albion Street & Austral Terrace.
It is currently (2016) owned by the van Kodenhoven family.
Katanning Stock and Trading Co, with its two-storey federation freestyle building, represents the economic growth of Katanning in the early part of the last century.
It was the headquarters of the first regular sheep sales and a meeting place for both buyers and sellers.
Its sheep selling yards were situated between Austral Terrace and Britannia Street on Bokarup Street. The original Roman Catholic church was on the opposite side of Bokarup Street.
In 1905 A E Piesse and Company was established in Austral Terrace with offices and a showroom.
The company provided farm and building equipment and the timber yards were located on the corner of the building.
A single storey building (see photo above) was built by one of the most prominent citizens in Katanning, A E Piesse, and was associated with another important local businessman, George McLeod.
In 1907 the company extended its business part of this new venture.
The company then began trading as Katanning Stock & Trading Company Ltd, and continued dealing in livestock until 1914.
The company was to feel the full effects of the Depression and leased its garage and plant to two enterprising men, Hughie Mouritz and Les Gare, who established their own garage.
Some staff lost their jobs and others had to accept a lower wage.
However, the company survived and was eventually able to embrace two new agencies – Ford Motor Cars and Wigmore and Co. Agricultural Machinery.
As a result, new premises had to be erected by 1925 including a second storey being added to the main building around 1927 (with part being leased to a legal firm), and these were, at the time, one of the most modern and handsome showrooms outside Perth.
Advertisements from the Great Southern Herald – 1928:
Fifty Years of Progress and Expansion
Katanning Stock & Trading Company Ltd.
From inception in 1907 to 1957
As reported in The Great Southern Herald
The formation of the Katanning Stock & Trading Co Ltd, on November 29, 1907; its growth through the years, the survival of two world wars and the depression period, and its range of activities from stock merchants to car dealers, were traced recently by Chairman of Directors, Mr A. J. Morrell, when speaking at two functions, held to mark the company’s fiftieth anniversary.
Mr Morrell joined the company in 1915 as an accountant and was appointed secretary in 1932.
Three years later he became manager and held that position until his retirement in 1954.
Mr Morrell became a member of the Directorate in 1940 and was appointed chairman in 1954.
The two functions held to celebrate the Company’s Jubilee were the Shareholders’ dinner on Friday, December 13, at which the special birthday cake was ceremoniously cut by Mrs Harold Piesse, and the employees’ dinner on Thursday, December 10.
Although the Katanning Stock and Trading Co Limited is this year celebrating fifty years of solid progress the business was, in fact, established some time prior to 1907.
The history of the company is intimately associated with the history and development of Katanning.
The foundation of the business, which was to become the Katanning Stock & Trading Co. Ltd., had its roots in the development of the State and the construction of the Great Southern railway line.
The brothers F. H. & C. A. Piesse commenced the business of F. & C. Piesse at Williams on March 30, 1880, and later established a branch at Arthur River.
The decision to run the Great Southern line between Albany and Beverley, instead of as expected along the more direct route through Kojonup and Williams, cane as a great blow to the Piesse brothers.
When construction works commenced in 1887 they closed the business they had established to move to the Great Southern.
In 1889 they opened the first store in Katanning.
The activities of the Piesse brothers extended and Mr Arnold E. Piesse became manager of the store.
After some years he established the business of Arnold E. Piesse & Co., which continued until fifty years ago when the Katanning Stock & Trading Co. Ltd. was formed to take over the concern.
The Company was incorporated on December 6, 1907, with Arnold E. Piesse, managing director; T. W. Langley, manager; F. M. Gare, secretary; G. McLeod, director; E. L. Holly, director; and Smith & Goyder, auditors.
During January 1908, the Company entered the stock business and erected sale yards on the site now occupied by the BP Aust. Ltd. bulk installation.
Sales of sheep, horses and cattle were conducted – and explain why the word “stock’ was included in the name of the Company.
The Company prospered for some years and paid dividends.
However, it became difficult to finance stock deals and, on May 25, 1914, the stock portion of the business was sold to Farmers Mercantile Union and Chaff Mills Ltd. for £1,000.
£500 was received in cash and the balance accepted in shares.
These proved worthless and the £500 was eventually written off as a bad debt.
Association with Ford
In August, 1915, the Company entered into an agreement with Grave and Dwyer to sell Ford cars and in 1916, Ford tractors.
It has therefore been selling Ford products for over 42 years.
The company has acted as agents for Millars Timber and Trading Company from the outset.
The company has also had and association of fifty years with the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Ltd.
For a period of nearly thirty years Mr Fred Keightly worked the Company’s district as an inspector and, twenty-one years ago, Mr Arthur Taylor succeeded him.
Mr Taylor was a Katanning boy, trained in office routine by accountant F. G. Joy, prior to joining the Commercial Union.
With the assistance of Mr Taylor, the Company increased its premium income seven times since 1936.
Largest in Australia
At the present time, the Katanning Stock & Trading Co. Ltd., controls the largest premium income of any rural agency of the Commercial Union in Australia.
In 1925 the current hardware showroom was built and in April 1926 the Company opened the garage section of the business and secured the service of the late Mr Hugh Christian Mouritz.
However, by 1930 business became so bad the Company was unable to continue paying wages.
Rather than close the garage, the premises and plant were leased at nominal rental to H. C. Mouritz and F. Les Gare.
Subsequent to the second world war, Gare and Mouritz established themselves in their own premises and, in compliance with the agreement with the Ford Motor Co., the Company resumed possession of the garage.
The financial stringencies of the depression years left the Company in the position where it had to write off substantial amounts of money as bad debts.
In February, 1930, directors and staff were called together and the position explained.
Some of the staff had to be put off and the balance had their wages reduced.
Business did improve slowly over the next few years but it was a long time before the Company recommenced paying dividends.
Of more recent years, the dividend rate of the Company has been very satisfactory.
Throughout the entire fifty years, there has been little change in the Directorate of the Company.
Those to hold office were: A. E. Piesse, Edmund Piesse, Harold Piesse, George McLeod, F. M. Gare, E. L. Holly, A. G. Purkiss, S. Hedges Dale, C. R. Garstone, A. J. Morrell, and during the past few years, Mrs E. S. R. Piesse, E. G. Thomas, and I. D. Thomas.
Chairman of Directors at various times were the first three, followed by S. Hedges Dale, and on his retirement in 1954, Mr A. J. Morrell.
The first manager was T. W. Langley, who acted from 1907 until December 1911, when he resigned from the position to continue with the Company as auctioneer.Holcome was appointed in January 1912, but did not stay long and was followed by F. M. Gare, previously secretary, who held the position until his death in January, 1932.
Mr A.J. Morrell succeeded Mr Gare and, three years later, was appointed manager.
He held the position until his retirement in 1954.
The current Directorate of the Company is A. J. Morrell (chairman), Mrs E. S. R. Piesse, C. R. Garstone, E. G. Thomas and I. D. Thomas, and is supported by a competent staff.
Executive members of the staff are: Manager Mr E. G. Thomas, who’s has been with the company for thirty-two years.
Starting as a youth, he obtained all-round experience in the Company’s activities, with particular emphasis on insurance and dealership matters.
Assistant Manager, Mr I.D. Thomas, joined the Company twenty years ago after obtaining experience in the timber and building trade.
He has been associated with various sections of the Company’s activities and now specialises on builders and contractors supplies.
Motor Sales Manager P. M. Taylor joined the Company thirteen years ago as an experienced car salesman.
He was appointed to a management position in succession to E. G. Thomas in 1954.
Service Manager Mr Norman Meyn joined the Company as a youth and obtained experience as a motor mechanic and tractor expert prior to his recent appointment to his present position.
In charge of motor parts and accessories is Mr Neville Phillips, who also joined the Company as a boy.
His important and exacting responsibilities are carried out most efficiently.
Company secretary, Mr Claude Kemble, joined the Company as an accountant in 1950, and has brought office routine and methods to a high standard of efficiency.
His responsibilities include the complicated Ford accountancy and recently that company made him a presentation in recognition of him being the best Ford dealer accountant in W.A..
Until recently when war injuries necessitated him relinquishing work, Mr A. H. (Bert) Smith had been with the Company for many years and did excellent work in bulk store and timber yard.
When speaking at both the shareholders’ and staff functions, Mr Morrell paid tribute to the loyalty and co-operation of all staff members and said that the successful results had only been obtained by the excellent team work of the Company’s employees.
Expansion and the Future
Mr Morrell stated the Company had in recent years embarked on a progressive programme to expand and modernise its buildings.
Part of this programme had been the establishment of new showrooms and motor service station at Kojonup, trading under the name of K.S.T. Auto Traders, which had been opened on December 6, 1955, with Mr E. Thornbury as manager.
Premises in Katanning would be extended and modernised in due course.
Despite the complexity of the present times, the Company was confident, it would continue on a sound and successful basis.
The Service Centre at the rear of Katanning Stock and Trading Co was built in 1961.
The Car Yard and Showroom opposite was built in 1977.