Ira Leigh Berk came to Australia in 1909 with the single purpose of establishing
sales offices for the American adding machine company whose franchise he
held. He was. however a man of vision, and the consequences, of his visit
were more far-reaching than one might have expected
Today, the companies which exist because of that visit have a proud history
in the automotive field, and a promising future of greater diversity.
In half a century the firm of Ira L. & A. C Berk Pty". Ltd reflects
the faith of Ira Berk and his brother Clyde in a young and growing nation
Ira Berk was born in Dayton. Ohio of parents of Dutch extraction,
he and his brother incidentally wereschoolmates of Orville and Wilbur
Wright who developed and flew the first aeroplane in the U.S.A
At the time of his coming to Australia he had for some time been associated
with the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, serving at one time as secretary
to the company President. Alvan Macaulay, who later became President
of the Packard Motor Car Company.
First of all, Ira Berk, set up Burroughs sales offices in Sydney and
other capital cities, and in his travels became aware of further
business opportunities in this young country
He also established selling branches in the leading cities of New Zealand
In in 1914. just prior to the outbreak of war. he persuaded his brother
Albert Clyde Berk, to join him in the Australian business. His purpose
was double-edged in that he was now free to return to the United Stales
to develop other interest?
On his return to the United States Ira Berk obtained distribution rights
for Packard cars in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, and part of West
Virginia. He set up a sales and service organisation in Pittsburgh with
such success that he returned to Australia thereafter only short visits
As a result. A. C. Berk remained in charge of Australian operations until
his retirement many years later.
From April 1921 to 1923 the business was conducted in the name of Ira
L & A. C Berk, foreshadowing a profitable partnership in new. fields.
Early in 1923 the company obtained distribution rights for Packard cars
for Australia and New Zealand and two companies were formed to handle
the respective fields of operation
Ira L. & A C. Berk Ltd. with offices in Challis House. Sydney was
formed on the 8th August, 1913 for the stated purpose of ''acquisition
by the company of all that portion of the business at present carried
on by Ira L. &. A C. Berk referring to the Burroughs Adding, Book-keeping
and Calculating Machines'. Under the chairmanship of A.C.. Berk the directors
of the company were Vida Davis (Mrs A. C Berk). Ira Berk. V B. Audette
and H.C Bartley.
The other company incorporated on the same day was titled Ira L. &.
A. C Berk (Packard) Ltd., founded for the purpose of acquiring the business
previously conducted by Ira. L. & A C Berk. A. C. Berk was also chairman
of this company, the otthcr directors being Ira L. Berk, Vida Davis Berk,
H C. Bartley and C McGhie. The office was in Martin Place Sydney while
the selling and servicing of Packard cars was handled from premises in
Castlereagh Street, near Mark Foys
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