150 years of BAM

The story of BAM is one of skill, values and entrepreneurial spirit. From its humble beginnings as a village carpentry shop in the Netherlands in 1869, the company has grown into a leading all-round European contractor that also has a modest, but reputable footprint on all other continents.

1869-1897: The village carpenter

On 12 May 1869, Adam van der Wal sets up shop as a carpenter in Groot-Ammers, a polder village at the heart of the Netherlands. While the country is rapidly industrialising, there is still plenty of work for a carpenter, including in maintenance of the many mills.

1898-1927: From local carpentry to national construction

When Adam’s son Jan joins the business, the scope extends from carpentry to construction. Due the limitations of the market in Groot-Ammers and the surrounding Alblasserwaard polder, Jan moves west and finally settles in The Hague. Soon, he caters to some of the country’s major enterprises.

1928-1939: The business expands

A third generation of Van der Wal joins the business: Jan’s son Joop, who just a few years earlier obtained a degree in civil engineering at was then called Delft Polytechnic. Under a new name, the company thrives, requiring the establishment of several offices across the country.

1940-1945: World War II

During the war years, business gradually dwindles down and finally comes to a complete standstill. In this same period, Joop publishes his seminal book about the economic development of the Dutch construction business.

1945-1959: Reconstruction of the Netherlands

After the occupation, the country slowly gets back on its feet and when it does, there is no end to the optimism. The company takes its place among the nation’s most important builders, while gradually expanding the scope of its activities.

1959-early seventies: Listed at the stock exchange and further growth

The company now offers the full package of construction services, apart from roads and dredging. As prosperity grows, there is room to continue the implementation of measures in keeping with the company’s values, such as profit sharing for employees. The name BAM is introduced in 1971.

1973-late eighties: The oil crisis heralds a period of economic struggle

A structural change in the organisation happens in the same year as the decision by OPEC members to minimise oil exports to the West. The following decades show a mix of modernisation on all fronts, while at the same time the economy – and thereby the construction sector – sees significant fluctuations.

1988-1999: Further expansion and a jubilee

In 1994, BAM celebrates its 125th anniversary. By royal decree, the company is now allowed to carry the title ‘Koninklijke’: Royal BAM. Further expansion is achieved, including by more acquisitions and the merger with Bredero Bouw in 1992.

2000: Acquisition of NBM

The acquisition of NBM makes BAM (now ‘Koninklijke BAM NBM’) the market leader in some sectors and a close runner-up in others.

2002: Acquisition of HBG

Sooner than expected, BAM is able to realise its ambition of becoming the overall market leader in the Netherlands. The international branches of HBG also elevate the business to a top-ten position in Europe.

2002-… : A leading all-round European contractor with a global footprint

Against the diversity of the global economic landscape (while one region slumps, another may boom), BAM cements its position as a reputable building company with a nose for innovation and a healthy sense of responsibility towards the planet, its people and their prosperity.