Degree Speeches
Summer 2002

Sir Anthony Bamford, DL

Public Orator, Professor Chris Backhouse, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Congregation held on the morning of Thursday 11 July 2002.

Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, Distinguished Guests, Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen

In 1975, at what many would consider to be the tender age of 29, Anthony Bamford assumed the twin mantles of Chairman and Managing Director of the company with the most famous initials in British Construction - JCB. Sir Anthony Bamford, as he is now, inherited a hugely successful British company - he transformed into one of enormous success to be truly one of the world's best.

Anthony Bamford was named Young Businessman of the Year in 1979 and Top Exporter of the Year in 1995. He was knighted in 1990 at the age of 44. His company, JCB, has won a host of accolades for engineering, export, design, marketing, management, and for its care of the environment. Under Sir Anthony’s leadership, JCB increased its profits from £6 million in 1976 to £100 million in 1995, a fine celebration of his own, and the company’s 50th birthdays. Today JCB is Europe's premier manufacturer of construction equipment and exports 72% of its products to 140 territories around the World. It has nine subsidiary companies in Europe, the US and Singapore and nine factories in the UK. Its famous yellow backhoe loaders and excavators have become part of the landscape and part of the language- the name JCB is even in both the Oxford and Collins English Dictionaries. These machines are the world's top selling brand of their type.

Sir Anthony’s father started JCB on the day Anthony was born, and his early memories are of travelling with his father in their pick-up truck to buy second-hand war equipment – axles, steel, wheels, chassis etc. From the age of 19 he went through the traditional boss’s son routine – assembling machines, working in the export division, and as a rep “on the road” in the UK and Northern Ireland. When he took over the reins he had just spent a year in charge of sales and finance.

Becoming chairman and managing director at the age of 29 was a shock, he told a journalist for International Construction magazine. “Youth helped,” he went on, “because then you don’t think of the downside. I think the responsibility of what I had been landed with sank home a couple of days later. I think my father thought that if I made a mess of it he could always come back!”

For those of you graduating today and starting out on your own careers, what advice can Sir Anthony Bamford offer you? What has been the secret of his success? “The fact that we have ploughed our own furrow, remained a private company and not ventured into other businesses. That has been my philosophy. I’ve kept it simple.” If you take a look at the company web site you will find strong evidence of this philosophy but also much more. You will find the concern for the arts, the environment and education are as high on the agenda as building a successful and profitable business. The latest news on the web site concerns a clarinet concert on the company’s lakeside at Rocester. A truly multi-faceted company.

It was 19 years to the day, at an identical ceremony to this one, that Loughborough University had the honour to award Sir Anthony’s father, Joseph Cyril Bamford, the degree of Doctor of Technology. Today, 19 years later, it therefore gives great pleasure to say almost the same words again:

Chancellor, I present to you and the University, Sir Anthony Bamford, for the award of the degree of Doctor of Technology, honoris causa.

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