The network of L&H branches continues to be one of Australia’s leading industry wholesalers – growing from strength to strength.

Below is a brief overview of our history:

  • 19th Century: L&H was at the forefront of the industrial revolution in Australia, helping spread the use of electricity in homes and businesses all around the country.
  • 20th Century: Through two world wars, a depression and years of tumultuous change, L&H expanded around the country, providing the infrastructural backup to support the technological revolution of this era.
  • 21st Century: L&H leads the way into the new century, introducing Safety and Industrial products into outlets and, with the development of Home Automation and Integrated Supply services, continues to drive smarter business practices.

Alfred Lawrence

Since 21-year-old Alfred Lawrence opened his electrical supply business in 1886, Lawrence & Hanson has dominated the Australian electrical market.

Attention to detail, a focus on product quality, and unparalleled staff education and retention were the tenets of the original business, and see L&H continue to flourish today.

Ambitious Beginnings

“Lawrence, we need someone to represent the company in the Colonies. We’ve decided it should be you.”

With words something like these, 20-year-old junior clerk Alfred Lawrence found himself on a ship bound for Melbourne to represent the interest of the British General Electric company.

The year was 1885. It was the very early days of electricity and young Lawrence’s employers were one of the few companies in the world investing in the new power source. Most people still thought of electricity as little more than a sideshow gimmick, so Lawrence had his work cut out for him.

But trudging the streets of Melbourne in search of orders for electric cables and fittings was never going to satisfy the ambitious Lawrence. In 1886, barely a year after arriving in Melbourne, he moved to Sydney and set up his own business , which he called Alfred Lawrence Electrical Merchants & Importers.

His timing was perfect—and so was his forward thinking.

Off and Running

The following year, 1887, would be Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Federation was still over a decade away, so Australia didn’t exist as a country yet. Lawrence realised that the event would be celebrated as patriotically in Sydney as it would in every other part of the empire—and that the ‘new-fangled’ electric lighting could play a major part in the celebrations.

He quickly raised enough capital to buy thousands of pounds’ worth of electric lamps, cables and fittings from his London suppliers. As he had anticipated, communities strived to outdo each other with dazzling displays of electric lighting during the Jubilee—and Lawrence proved to be the only supplier in Sydney with substantial stocks. The business was off and running.

Alfred Lawrence & Arthur Hanson

Alfred Lawrence was introduced to Arthur ‘Jerry’ Hanson in 1889.

Lawrence recognised that Hanson’s accounting skills were the perfect complement to his technical knowledge. They soon went into partnership, founding the Lawrence & Hanson Electrical company or L&H, as we know it today.

With the partners working in tandem, L&H grew steadily. But in 1897, Lawrence’s health began to fail. Following the sudden death of his mother in England, he sold his share of the company to Hanson in 1902.

Yet the departure of the company’s founder did not slow the growth of L&H. Quite the contrary: as the sole owner, Jerry Hanson was now able to push ahead with his own ambitious plans.

With more people now taking electricity seriously, there were more opportunities for L&H. Soon electricity was used to light hospitals and other major public buildings. Street lighting followed, then lighting for private houses. Hanson made sure the company was ready to take advantage of this growth.   Everywhere electricity went, L&H went too.

The company never looked back.