David Barro migrated to Australia from Treviso, in the Veneto Region of northern Italy, with his mother and three siblings in 1936; his father had come earlier, in 1928.
At the close of World War II industry was flat right across Australia. Within a few years, however, huge growth began in the building industry, with an accompanying demand for concrete.
In 1946 Dave started up Barro’s Paving Co focusing on concrete placement and terrazzo. His brother Marc joined him shortly afterwards. Dave and Marc, now Australian citizens, both married in the early fifties and built adjoining homes on land in Warrandyte Road Ringwood from where the business was operated.
In 1953 a block of land was purchased on Maroondah Hwy Ringwood allowing expansion of the business – from here the first PRONTO MIXED CONCRETE plant was established.
Plant-mixed concrete was a big step. Here, they could batch concrete in bulk and deliver to job sites in trucks mounted with agitator barrels. Pronto’s first agitators were built at Supreme Engineering in Sydney and the dark green Pronto agitator trucks rolled out of the yard in February 1956.
For many years there was a shortage of cement, due in part to the demands of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. At first, Pronto’s cement was supplied in bags, then small amounts of bulk cement came from Gippsland Cement & Lime’s plants at Port Fairy and Traralgon, and some from Geelong. Aggregates and sand were first accessed from Narre Warren and Springvale.
To learn more, Dave went on a sponsored overseas trip to Japan, England and the United States to look at methods of production, construction, quarrying and promotion.
Pronto Concrete was soon the foremost independent operator in the game, but needed to expand further to keep up with demand. On Dave’s return from the United States, he began looking for his own resources – firstly, a stone supply. In 1962 the first quarry was purchased – Mountain View Quarries at Montrose. At the time, three companies controlled the manufacturing of cement, as well as all the major quarry and sand deposits; it would be a coup for Dave and Marc to have their own stone and sand supplies.
Around 1962 the brothers purchased a sand pit in the You Yangs and from here they were on a roll – more Pronto Concrete plants and a hard rock quarry in 1976. In the mid-seventies, the different branches of the business – concrete manufacture, quarrying, concrete placement were linked under the new name of Barro Group.
Throughout the seventies the company underwent continuing expansion, with quarries at Point Wilson and Bacchus Marsh, and more concrete plants. With the eighties quarrying became a significant arm of the company. Further upgrades and acquisitions took place in this decade, including the purchase of Maude sand pit.
A cement shortage across Australia in the 1980s was the catalyst for Dave Barro to find a steady cement supply. He had tried Queensland, New Zealand and Tasmania but none would sell to him. His search led to the formation of Independent Cement and Lime (ICL) a joint venture company formed for the bulk receival, storage and distribution of cementitious product. Despite a union backlash, the company imported bulk cement from Japan. It was an industry coup. With a consistent cement supply, Dave and Marc had now successfully vertically integrated the company.
Then came a move interstate, starting with Hervey Bay in 1989, followed by Mt Cotton, Townsville, Ipswich, Gladstone and Mt Marrow.
Integration and growth continued with extensive expansion, growing year by year. Barro Group today is fully integrated, with operations in all aspects of concrete production, hard-rock quarries and sand pits, landscaping and builder’s supplies, precast panels, concrete roof tiles, earthmoving and truck tyre retreading, tyre retailers, transport, landfill, maintenance workshops and materials testing laboratories in both Victoria and Queensland.
In 2017, the Barro Group has over 600 full time employees, over 20 concrete plants, approximately 18 quarries and hundreds of contractors, along with substantial shareholding in Adelaide Brighton Cement.