One of the company’s earliest schemes was a factory for British Celanese in Wrexham, 1954. In money of the day it costs £1.9 million, over £60 million in today’s prices and in the 1960s was acquired by chemical giant Courtaulds. The BBC’s regional headquarters and Salford University’s library followed in the late 60s. BAM (then two separate companies called Higgs and Hill and Kyle Stewart) built Fiddlers Ferry Power Station and North Wales District Hospital.
Although the company was founded in London, work expanded to the extent that a dedicated North West office was needed and BAM started in Salford in 1976. It has been there since.
“It was clear that the market wanted a company that could develop, design, build, engineer and manage its own buildings with a highly technological approach behind it. That focus on quality is the secret to our success.”
Mr Fleming remarks that much has changed in the construction sector.
“Safety has transformed beyond recognition. Our early employees back in 1874 had a horse and cart and moved goods via steam. Now, we have virtual reality engineers and drone pilots, and the sustainability agenda has combined with modern technology to make buildings smarter and cleaner. We can harvest the data to manage energy better and improve design. It’s a constant stream of innovation, efficiency and improvement.”
Sustainability brings him back to the tree planting event in Manchester where his team are working with local charity, City of Trees at Boz Park, Bury, on Tuesday 10 December. The new tree-planting season began late November during National Tree Week.
The UK has the least forest coverage in Europe (around 13%; the average is 35%). BAM is supporting City of Trees to create a new broadleaf forest in Bury, sponsoring 3,000 trees for 30 years.
Beth Kelsall, Delivery Co-Ordinator for City of Trees, says: ‘We aim to plant half a million trees by March 2020, which marks the end of tree planting season. The trees also form part of the Northern Forest, an ambitious initiative aiming to plant 50 million trees in 25 years, stretching from Liverpool to Hull.
She adds: “The private sector is critical to this, bringing in both funding and volunteer support. Tree planting is a great way people can connect to nature and it’s not a mechanised process. Planting the right tree in the right place is also crucial for their long term survival.”
A team of some 50 volunteers, plus Woodhey Brass Band, and local school, Summerseat Methodist Primary School, will be on hand to make the occasion into a real community effort.
Ian Fleming concludes:
“Wherever we build we have an opportunity to give back, and act as a responsible business should. Future generations matter to us. We need to help preserve the planet for them. That’s why our Group company, Royal BAM, chose to celebrate its 150th anniversary by planting 150,000 trees around the world, instead of organising a party. Forests are key to restraining climate change and restoring biodiversity. Trees provide clean air to breathe and so much more. I’m very pleased that the North West is where our final tree planting of the year will mark our historic 150th year.”