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Johnston’s Transport Industries commenced operations at the turn of the 20th Century, with a single axle horse drawn cart. It has retained the standing of a privately held family business that is presently owned and managed by the founder’s grandsons. Through three generations the company has transformed into a multi-disciplined transport and logistics provider, supplying a diverse range of services to a blue chip clientele of prominent Australian and International companies. The company’s first major contract was the establishment of a Sydney delivery network for David Jones Ltd; requiring a sizeable commitment in capital and personnel to meet the rigorous standards demanded by such a distinguished client.

In 1940 the company pioneered a separate operating division that specialised in machinery handling and factory relocation. Again, taking a substantial risk that necessitated large capital expenditure for building and acquisition of purpose built, heavy lift cranes. Johnston’s had to overcome the difficulty of recruiting and training operators and dogmen at the height of the wartime manpower shortage. Today Johnstons unique equipment and personnel skills are recognised by the heavy machinery, food & printing industries as having no peer in this field.

Johnstons Company History
Johnstons Company History

Through the 1980s Johnston’s was at the forefront of innovation in transport equipment, cultivating the development of walking floor and chain roller conveyor pantechnicons to pursue the concept of Just In Time deliveries for the beverage industry. In recent times the company has established strategic partnerships that developed a purpose built central distribution centre to provide global Supply Chain Management of supplies and provisions to the airline industry. Johnston’s performed a key role as a selected logistics provider to SOCOG for the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic games. Culminating a great year 2000, Johnston’s received the prestigious NSW Master Carrier of Year Award for excellence in Service to the industry and the community.

Close involvement at industry level has occurred consistently over the decades with many Johnston’s staff serving on the executive council and section committees of the NSW Road Transport Association. Johnston’s have upheld their corporate and social responsibilities to road safety by being one of only thirty companies in NSW to achieve accreditation with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority, Alternative Compliance Roadworthiness Scheme (now the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme). The company has pursued its goal of excellence in the transport and logistics field by conducting extensive occupational health & safety programs, apprenticeship schemes, comprehensive driver training, in house upgrading of skills and external study programs that provide employees at all levels with positive career paths.

Having taken the plunge towards independence, Francis W Johnston used his initiative and leadership qualities to cultivate important relationships. Family businesses have a distinct competitive advantage. Learning how to harness that, build on the positives and manage the challenges, is the key to long term success for every family business.

Key Milestones

From the early days, at the turn of the 20th Century, with Francis Johnston’s horse drawn carriage, many significant achievements have assisted Johnston’s towards its path of becoming one of Australia’s foremost ‘family owned and operated’ integrated logistics providers.

We’ve undertaken an organic program of expansion and growth since commencing. The strategic acquisitions have presented opportunities and had a critical role in our development from the horse drawn cart operation established by Frank W Johnston to the local integrated logistics business that Johnstons Transport is at present.

Through our selective program of acquisitions Johnstons has successfully incorporated critical ingredients of operational scale, expertise and offered a diversity of services, technology solutions and resources, enabling us to better deliver comprehensive logistics services and solutions for our customers. Since September 1900, when Frank W Johnston purchased for £30 a horse drawn carriage and carted flour to bakeries in Waterloo and produce from Redfern railway yards. From this point in time, Johnstons have undertaken a conservative acquisition program to assist with organic growth.

These integral strategic milestones are critical to our relationships and success.

  • 1884 - Johnston family migrate from Ireland (County Fermangh) Arrive Oct 1884.
  • 1900 - Founded Frank W Johnston Pty Ltd, what is now known as Johnstons Transport
  • 1902 - The Sydney Carrying Company, Blackwattle Bay Stables, Glebe
  • 1907 - Partnership of Orr & Johnston
  • 1927 - Acquisition T.McHugh & Co. (4 Horses & 10 Carriages)
  • 1960 - Acquisition of Alert Transport
  • 1971 - Acquisition of Brian Reilly Freighters Pty Ltd (BRF)
  • 1973 - Acquisition of Patterson Carriers
  • 1979 - Relocated to 56 Fitzroy Street, Marrickville – Head Office til 2012
  • 1986 - Added 82 Long Street, Smithfield to for dual operations – now Head Office
  • 1988 - Sale of Warringah Crane & Transport
  • 1990 - Acquisition W.M. McKeown Pty Ltd t/as McKeowns Transport
  • 1993 - Acquisition of Meloys Transport
  • 1995 - Added Botany Property to the company
  • 2002 - Acquisition of Brooks Transport
  • 2004 - Acquisition of Sandelon Crane Trucks

Why Johnstons


Johnstons is one of NSW's largest, best-known family owned and operated transport and logistics companies, with an impressive track record dating back over 100 years. In fact, we were one of the earliest transport companies ever established in Australia! Today, Johnstons continue to strategically focus on our core competencies that add value to long term relationships. High value activities and the foundation of trust allow the team to innovate and differentiate Johnstons from its competitors.


In today’s dynamic marketplace, our framework is being reconfigured to respond to the development of ‘Port Centric’ markets, to cater for the increase of imported goods and the inbound supply chain.


Our 'service first' philosophy pervades everything we do, from our highly trained staff to our scrupulously maintained equipment. Our two strategically located service centres enable us to offer you a seamless delivery service throughout metropolitan Sydney and country NSW.

We set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) together with our clients and then work to exceed them. We're also proud to have won prestigious industry awards such as 'Carrier of the Year', 'Driver of the Year', 'Occupational Health and Safety Award' and 'Environmental Award' which pay tribute to our commitment to excellence.


Our meticulous reporting systems allow us to pinpoint potential cost savings throughout the transport process. We understand the impact of delays and late deliveries when your goods sit needlessly on trucks, or your staff wait around for deliveries. That's why we're always seeking out innovative ways to work with you to improve efficiency. Take a look at some of our case studies.

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