On the 3rd of January 1849, at the age of just 21, Henry Binney Hawke arrived in Adelaide on the ship William Money and took a job at a foundry in North Terrace. H.B. Hawke & Company began business in Kapunda, South Australia in 1857 making castings for the nearby copper mines. By 1867, the company was manufacturing and installing weighbridges. In 1884 Hawke sold out to William Thomas and Rees Rees.
By 1890 H.B. Hawke & Company employed over 90 people, including pattern makers, moulders, fettlers, fitters, turners, apprentices and clerks. In 1912 Sir Sidney Kidman took an interest in the business, investing some operating capital. In 1926 Kidman purchased all the company's assets and liabilities.
Horatio Rees, a son of Rees Rees, was enticed back to the business from Castlemaine in Victoria. Horatio promised Kidman that he would revitalise the company, which had somewhat slumped - and within five years was so successful that he repurchased the business from Sir Sidney. At the age of 37, he became the sole proprietor.
In 1931 Hawke & Company produced the first Australian-designed hydraulic car hoist, which was an instant success. The company continued to manufacture weighbridges, along with hydraulic presses, road rollers, kerbing machinery, and doing general engineering and repair work.
In 1945, Hawke & Company became Hawke & Company Pty Ltd. In 1957, Horatio Rees died and his daughter Enid, who had been the company secretary since 1937, became Managing Director.
In the late 1960s, Ultra Scales Pty Ltd, owned and operated by Eric Brabham, became the representative for Hawke & Company weighbridges on the east coast of Australia. By the mid-1970s, Ultra Scales Pty Ltd was selling, installing and servicing many Hawke & Company Pty Ltd weighbridges in eastern Australia, with Eric Brabham having an influence on new designs and manufacturing techniques.
During this time, Eric was able to purchase a minor shareholding in the weighbridge side of the business. In 1983, when, due to recession, Hawke & Company Pty Ltd closed in Kapunda, Eric Brabham purchased the remaining major holding in the weighbridge business and moved manufacturing to Melbourne.
Eric Brabham was an innovator in the weighing industry and introduced much forward thinking to a product that hadn't changed in basic design for nearly 100 years. He was quick to introduce load cell technology to weighbridges, and he would always be open to building in the latest technology.
When Eric decided to retire in 2000, the company he passed on to the current owners was an industry leader in its field, a position it still holds today.