Hills hangs in by going from an industrial company to technology investment firm
The cover image from Hills Industries annual report in 1986 – South Australia's 150th year as a settlement.
The challenge of competing with large multinational companies started the shakeup, from the1980s/90s, for Hills Industries towards becoming Hills Holdings. Hills firstly stopped producing automotive components but continued to diversify its portfolio. In 1986, Hills bought 46% of Korvest, a maker of cable and pipe supports, and in 1987 bought Direct Alarm Supplies.
By 2000, Hills had consolidated into electronics, home and hardware and building and industrial. Steel tubing, the mainstay of Hills’ manufacturing growth, was sold into a joint venture with Welded Tube Mills of Australia to form Orrcon,
In 2002, Hills sold 50% of its UK business to form a partnership with Freudenberg Household Products, makers of the Vildea brand, to facilitate sales throughout Europe. In Australia, the K.Care group and Kerry Equipment (health care equipment brands) were acquired, as Hills capitalised on the growing aged care sector.
Hills was refined by 2004 to electronic security and entertainment, home and hardware and building and industrial, signalling a focus on integrated entertainment, security and communications systems. In 2006, Hills sold its remaining investment in Hills United Kingdom to Freudenberg Household Products, ending its European venture.
Buying Air Comfort Seating Systems in 2007, to complement the K-Care and Kerry Equipment range, Hills Healthcare was launched and quickly became the leading maker of rehabilitation, mobility and hospital equipment in Australia.
In 2010, Hills Industries became Hills Holdings, reflecting the switch from an industrial to a diversified investment company. A major restructure in 2012 took the company from a low-margin, capital-intensive manufacturer to a distributor of integrated technology products and services.
In 2013, the company – now Hills Limited – divested itself of industrial assets including Korvest and Orrcon, plus its healthcare businesses to focus on technology and communications After two years of licensing the sale of its Hills Home Living brands to Woolworths, Hills Limited sold their manufacturing and sale rights to AMES Australasia, a subsidiary of the American Griffon Corporation.
In 2017, Hills, with its headquarters now in Sydney, was reporting a payoff in the shift to new technology and services that integrate security and surveillance, CCTV, alarms, audio visual lighting and hospital communications systems.