Success Story

Dahlsens Truss and Trade Centre


Giant steel trusses loom overhead as the Dahlsens Roof Truss Plant and new Trade Centre has taken shape at 108 Forge Creek Road. The development, set on approximately 7,000 square metres of covered space and 7,000 metres of uncovered space, is the latest in a long history of developments by the Dahlsen family.

Dahlsens began in 1877 as JC Dahlsen Pty Ltd when Johanas Christian Dahlsen, a migrant from Denmark who came to East Gippsland in 1862, established the business in Bairnsdale. The business has grown and changed over the decades and now sits on 88 sites throughout Australia. Today the company is led by fifth generation Geoff as CEO and Jamie as the GM of Technology and Innovation.

Johanas, who changed his name to John in 1878, was first successful with gold mining across the region. He established the School of Mines, which became Bairnsdale Technical School. This still stands today as one of Bairnsdale's historic buildings; now TAFE Gippsland. John was involved in developing many businesses including guest houses, land and housing developments, shipping, transport, timber milling, oyster and vegetable farming, a department store, motor vehicle distribution and trade business which is now a national chain.

John’s son, Percy known as P.B, established the Department Store, JC Dahlsens, on Nicholson Street (Bairnsdale) site in the 1930s. “He was the driving force behind the expansion of the company,” said his grandson and current Co-Chairman, John Dahlsen.
John, a fourth generation Dahlsen, is proud of the company’s East Gippsland roots. John has worked in other sectors as a lawyer and became Chairman of Woolworths, Herald Weekly Times, Southern Cross Broadcasting, A Director ANZ, Myer and then joined the family business in a non-executive role in 1992.

The company employs 100 people in East Gippsland and 200 across Gippsland. 1200 Australia Wide. It operates stores in Darwin, Cairns, Melbourne and Sydney as well as in regional areas such as Sale, Traralgon, Warragul and Lakes Entrance.

The Trade Centre in Bairnsdale will expand its capacity to cater for the booming building industry. The new truss plant will have two production plants doubling it’s output. The pandemic, unexpectedly, increased the people moving to non-metropolitan areas, including East Gippsland, and a demand for new homes. Building works have been hampered by both timber supply and builder shortage because of the high demand and supply chain interruptions due to the pandemic.

Dahlsens is synonymous with East Gippsland, although the company operates throughout Australia. The business, under the leadership of five generations of Dahlsens, has expanded and adapted, along with changing society and demands, across three centuries. “East Gippsland remains at the heart of our family business,” said John. “I am proud of our 140-year history with the fifth generation now successfully running the business. The future belongs to them.”