The need to compete against national and chain store industrial supply companies led to the meeting of a number of owners of independent stores in and around Melbourne in December 1996. The objective of this meeting was to ascertain the potential support-base for a buying group.
The AIS group was created in February 1997, and with an initial membership of nine companies, the advantages of combined expenditure and the resultant purchasing power, quickly attracted the interest of national wholesale and manufacturing businesses.
This interest resulted in the group becoming an active entity in April 1997, having produced a member subsidised product brochure/catalogue for distribution to end users. Initial sales successes and the growth potential saw a considerable number of product suppliers enter into trading contracts with the group. These additions further enhanced the competitiveness against the larger national industrial supply companies.
A Propriety Limited company was formed in November 1997, with the appointment of a Board of Directors as the controlling body, and an Office Administrator employed to maintain communication channels between the Board, Members and Suppliers. Committed to quality management, strength of independent membership and expansion of its membership and supplier base, the company has grown to over 80 Members, upwards of 120 stores throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea and in excess of 130 suppliers.