1973-late eighties: The oil crisis and a period of economic struggle
Soon after the structural change of 1971, a further adaptation followed in 1973, this time as a result of new national legislation in compliance with European directives. All subsidiaries were made private (‘BV’ in Dutch). The name of the holding company, BAM Holding NV, had come yet another step closer to its current form.
1973 was also the year of the oil crisis, which resulted from the decision by OPEC members to minimise oil exports to the West. It meant a low point in an already struggling general economy, and recovery wouldn’t set in until well into the 1980s.
Regardless, the 1970s were also a decade of opportunity, if not for profit then for development. 1974 marked the first meeting of BAM’s Works Council, in keeping with new regulations that formalised employee participation in company governance. BAM’s investments in its culture, skills level, cost control and entrepreneurship enabled it to expand its product portfolio, such as in project development and partnering with employers. Strong regional offices were able to respond to specific market demands in different parts of the country, while the company also found ways to export its skills to foreign markets – first close to home, in Belgium and Germany, but later in the decade also in the Middle East.
In the early 1980s, BAM experienced its first year with a net loss. Such was the state of the economy. Fierce market competition weighed heavily on prices, but BAM maintained its focus on quality. This marked the decade in general: the continuous search for balance between quality and costs, for the sake of both the company and its employers.
When from 1983 onwards the economy began to recover, BAM’s overall health was such that it was well able to respond to the growth in demand – proof that the strategic choices made over the years had been right.