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Joseph C. Bamford

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Joseph Cyril Bamford (1916 – 2001) was an engineer who founded the British-based company JCB that bears his initials and specializes in the manufacturing of over 160 different pieces of equipment in the construction, agricultural, and other industries.[1] Joseph Bamford was known for his enigmatic personality, dedication to going the extra mile to please his customers, and exemplary marketing skills, that combined, made JCB a household name in the U.K. and around the world. In fact, JCB is a definition in the Oxford English Dictionary that refers to “a type of mechanical excavator with a shovel at the front and a digging arm at the rear."[2]

Contents

[edit] History

Born in 1916, Joseph Bamford was known in the construction world as Mr. JCB.[3] Bamford was born for a career in engineering. His family was from Uttoxeter in Staffordshire and owned Bamfords Ltd., an agricultural engineering company founded by his grandfather.[4] 

Upon graduating from Stonyhurst College in Lancanshire, Bamford worked as an engineer for several firms and as a diesel engineer in Africa. After working for the RAF during World War II, he went to work for the family business. His uncle let him go, stating he thought Bamford “had little future ahead of him.”[5]

[edit] Bamford's Early Career

At one point, Bamford even sold hair cream. In 1945, his career path began to unfold when he rented a 12- by 15-foot (4- by 4.6-m) lock-up garage and started to build agricultural tipping trailers out of war-surplus material. He then took his trailer to a nearby market and sold it for 45 pounds. By 1948 his agricultural trailer business was in full force and Bamford’s company employed six people and produced the first hydraulic tipping trailer in Europe.[6]

The use of hydraulics led to the development of the company’s first hydraulic loader and then the company’s first backhoe excavator in 1953. Most of the equipment Bamford manufactured through JCB existed as some variation of the backhoe loader. In 1957, he brought the “hydra digga[7]to market. The machine combined the excavator and loader into a single multi-purpose unit that could be used in both construction and agriculture. Other prominent equipment contributions included the company’s first forklift, the Loadall 520.

[edit] Bamford, Master Marketer

Bamford was also a brilliant marketer and understood the importance of customer relations, never wavering to go the extra mile to put his customers first. This undoubtedly helped him steer his burgeoning enterprise to global success. For example, in 1963, JCB launched the 3C backhoe loader. Then in 1967 the new 3D was designed and marketed as being with the comforts of home—it had the ability to boil a kettle within the cab of the machine. Bamford was persistent in marketing this built-in feature to buyers. He visited the first 100 purchasers of a 3D, presenting them with the JCB kettle in person.[8] The first JCB exported to the USA was a 4C in 1964.

During the 1960s, Bamford gained popularity for what soon became a JCB tradition—"JCB stunts.” This included such outlandish tactics as hoisting up diggers on their hydraulic arms to showcase the machine’s strength and versatility. These shows, dubbed the “Dancing Diggers,” [9]become a mainstay attraction at agricultural shows and remain popular with crowds to this day. He even purchased a corporate aircraft to fly customers in for business and then had them picked up in a Cadillac that occupied the same number of seats. Bamford also fully understood the concept of branding. In 1951 he had all the company’s equipment painted yellow and the paint color became a standard known as “JCB yellow.”[10]

[edit] Philosophy of Hard Work

Bamford was a firm believer in working hard, and put in long hours at the company. He did not like to borrow money, and reinvested profits back into research and development. In fact, the company’s slogan was “a product of hard work” and Bamford ensured that the JCB image lived up to it. As he once said, “The problem with the competition is that they get up late and go to bed early.” [11]In 1969, he was appointed a CBE and in 1993, was the only Briton ever to be acknowledged by the American Construction Hall of Fame.

[edit] Retirement and Death

He retired from JCB in 1975 and passed away in 2001, leaving the company in the hands of his eldest son, Sir Anthony Bamford.

[edit] References

  1. JCB. Bluebird-Electric.net, 2008-09-29.
  2. Phillips, David. Joseph Bamford. Guardian.co.uk, March, 2001. (accessed: 2008-09-29)
  3. Phillips, David. Joseph Bamford. Guardian.co.uk, March, 2001. (accessed: 2008-09-29)
  4. Phillips, David. Joseph Bamford. Guardian.co.uk, March, 2001. (accessed: 2008-09-29)
  5. Phillips, David. Joseph Bamford. Guardian.co.uk, March, 2001. (accessed: 2008-09-29)
  6. JCB. Bluebird-Electric.net, 2008-09-29.
  7. JCB. Bluebird-Electric.net, 2008-09-29.
  8. JCB the First Fifty years 1945-1995, pub by JCB, page 35 & 36, JCB part no. 9999 / 2957
  9. JCB. Bluebird-Electric.net, 2008-09-29.
  10. Phillips, David. Joseph Bamford. Guardian.co.uk, March, 2001. (accessed: 2008-09-29)
  11. Phillips, David. Joseph Bamford. Guardian.co.uk, March, 2001. (accessed: 2008-09-29)