1928-1939: Expansion of the business

From 1928 onwards, the company was known under yet another name. Jan’s poor health forced him to make way for his son Joop, who formed a two-man board together with his brother-in-law, Gerrit Jonkheid. 

Gerrit was a graduated engineer, just like Joop, and had already made a name for himself through his involvement in the construction of the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium. They reorganised the company as a public limited company under the name N.V. Bataafsche Aanneming Maatschappij van Bouw en Betonwerken v/h Firma J. van der Wal en Zoon (Batavian Contracting Company of Construction and Concrete Works Ltd, formerly J. van der Wal and Son).

This lengthy new name was the first step towards the BAM acronym. ‘Batavian’ was an often-used adjective in Dutch company names in that period of time, most likely because of the reference to the Batavi, the Germanic tribe believed to be the founders of civilisation in the Dutch Rhine Delta in the first century BC. Another firm that chose to name itself after the Batavi was the Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij (Batavian Petroleum Company), which would later become part of Shell. The petroleum company was a regular employer of the Batavian contractors.

BAM’s precursor experienced rough times in its first few years, which concurred with the worldwide economic crisis. In 1929, Joop and Gerrit, the two engineers now at the head of the company, faced an immediate crisis when their main financier, the bank Scheurleer & Zonen, went bankrupt. Despite the threat this posed to the company’s solvability, Joop and Gerrit’s response ensured that the company’s reputation towards its clients remained untarnished.

Business picked up again in the 1930s, with many large projects such as the head office of the Bataafsche Petroleum Maatschappij in The Hague, the KEMA laboratory in Arnhem, the offices of broadcasting company AVRO in Amsterdam, C&A’s store in Rotterdam and the conversion of the Baarn wing of Soestdijk Palace (designated to be the home of newly wed Princess Juliana and Prince Bernhard).

In addition to a new head office in The Hague, the company also established two regional offices in Arnhem (eastern part of the Netherlands) and Amsterdam.