Seventy years old and improving with age
R.E.N Machinery is a business name synonymous with agriculture in the Warragul district. But who came up with R.E.N, and why?
Ray. Earl. Norm: three former air-force colleagues were the men behind the business that started out as R.E.N Motors.
It was 1948, three years after World War 2 ended, when Ray Wilson, Earl French and Norm Francome joined forces to establish a vehicle dealership and service station. Having faced many challenges during active service, their decision to unite in business would be the beginning of a successful partnership.
Setting up in modest premises on Brandy Creek Road, Warragul R.E.N Motors boasted a lubritorium, enviable workshop and spacious showroom.
R.E.N was the major franchisee for several big-name vehicle manufacturers, and customers were spoilt for choice.
Locals now had the luxury of choosing vehicles with an international badge, including Italian Fiat, British Singer and British Renault.
R.E.N also catered to the farmers by stocking David Brown Tractors, designed and built in the UK. On-site fuel sales ensured new-vehicle owners could return to fill the tanks of their shiny, new acquisitions.
During the Brandy Creek Road years, Ray Wilson sold his share in R.E.N Motors to Earl and Norm due to family health issues.
A few years later, Norm approached Earl with the news that he too had to leave the business for personal reasons.
Ray moved to Mildura, Norm moved to Melbourne and Earl became the sole owner of R.E.N Motors.
Earl and his wife Hazel welcomed their firstborn son, Gary, to their family line-up on 11 September 1955.
Soon after, Earl and R.E.N welcomed New Holland to their farm machinery line-up — both proved to be rewarding and successful additions for Earl and Hazel, albeit for very different reasons.
Earl (third from left) at the 1959 New Holland Dealer Conference.
Earl French relaxing in a 1948 Fiat station wagon.
Two-thirds of the original R.E.N Motors team: Norm Francome and Ray Wilson in the beginning.