In 1898, a hard-working, young blacksmith decided to test his luck on the Kalgoorlie goldfields. But Johann Karl Wilhelm Ahrens, better known as Wilhelm, became seriously ill with typhoid fever and was forced to return home to the Barossa Valley with his wife, Alma, and their two young children.

Wilhelm rented a barn where he set up a blacksmith shop, offering basic services such as shoeing horses to the local farmers. On 5 April 1906, Wilhelm borrowed 100 pounds from Alma’s father to purchase a cottage and blacksmith shop on three acres of land at Sheaoak Log in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. This was the beginning of Ahrens.

The Early

For the first 50 years of Ahrens, Wilhelm and his son, Bill, ran a blacksmith shop at Sheaoak Log.

During this time, the business experienced many changes, including the introduction of motorised vehicles and power tools and tractors replacing horses for transport and farm work. In the 1960s, Bill’s son, Bob, joined the company and three generations of the family worked side-by-side for the next few years. In 1964, Bob’s wife, Marj, joined the business and under their leadership the company began to show real signs of progress. Bob was an entrepreneurial engineer and grew the business by extending its product range to include grain silos, field bins, rural sheds and stone and land rollers.


In the late 1970s, Ahrens began fabricating its own structural steel at the Sheaoak Log workshop. Construction work in the Northern Territory, as well as projects for the local wine industry, gave the business a strong foundation and it quickly established a reputation as a cost-effective supplier of steel buildings.

Bob and Marj’s son, Stefan, started working for Ahrens in 1988 and was appointed Managing Director in 1995. In 1998, Ahrens acquired the silo manufacturing and distribution businesses of Sherwell in South Australian and Victoria and in 2002 it acquired Webster’s Silos in Queensland. In 2003, Ahrens bought M&S Steel Buildings and established a second steel fabrication and construction base in Queensland.

More recent rural acquisitions included MPH Rural’s silo operations in Toowoomba, Queensland and Gilgandra, New South Wales in 2010; Jaeschke Silos in Tarranyurk, Victoria in 2011; Pioneer Water Tanks in Perth, Western Australia in 2015; Wheatbelt Steel in Western Australia in 2018 and the iconic Southern Cross brand in 2019.

Ahrens also expanded their international reach with Pioneer Water tanks taking ownership of US master dealer, Acer Water Tanks in 2018.

In 2017, to better service our customers and ensure the highest quality of our product range, Ahrens commissioned its own silo manufacturing line at Sheaoak Log in South Australia.

Ahrens Rural division now has a footprint of six primary manufacturing facilities in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, as well as a satellite operation in Tasmania.


As well as expanding its rural business over the past two decades, Stefan has transformed the business from a steel fabricator and shed builder to a national construction, engineering and mining services company specialising in design and construct projects. Ahrens has the capacity to deliver design and construct projects around Australia.

Today, the business has the advantage of sourcing steel from its own steel fabrication facilities, which have been extended with the addition of a semi-automated shot blast and paintline and a world-class Custom Engineered Building line. We provide steel for the majority of our projects.