Lord Bamford is best known for his position at JCB, one of Britain’s most successful family-owned businesses. As Chairman of the iconic construction equipment manufacturer since 1975, he has presided over the prolific global expansion of a brand that stands for strength, durability and reliability in products ranging from 46 tonne tracked excavators to children’s toys and DIY equipment.
Born in 1945 on the day his father, Joseph Cyril Bamford CBE set up JCB, Anthony Bamford’s path into the family business after leaving Ampleforth College started with an engineering apprenticeship at Massey Ferguson in France. The three years spent on the Continent were to prove invaluable in preparing him for a JCB career that started on the shopfloor in 1964 before he moved into management to lead the company’s early export drive into Europe in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
When his father retired in 1975 after 30 years at the helm to allow “younger management to show its strengths”, he set about transforming JCB into a world leader in construction equipment technology. An early move was to start producing major components in-house by opening an axle factory in Wales in 1978.
This was the first of many decisions taken over four decades to vertically integrate the company’s operations. Today, JCB makes its own transmission systems in Wales, hydraulic cylinders and cabs in Staffordshire and off-highway engines in Derbyshire. All part of Lord Bamford’s determination to have complete technological control over JCB’s product range.
Arguably, his most inspired decision was to set up JCB’s first overseas operation in India. That was in 1979 when few companies would have contemplated setting up business in India. His love for the country and its people, and an absolute conviction in its long-term market potential have paid dividends as JCB now employs over 5,000 people in India, which has become the company’s single largest market. The move was to become a template for the company’s subsequent moves into Brazil, USA and China.
Since becoming Chairman, he has taken JCB from a one-factory operation in Staffordshire with a turnover of £43 million to a global business with 22 plants around the world employing 12,500 people making over 300 different products. Recent results speak for themselves - JCB reported a turnover of £2.62 billion in 2016 and earnings of £287 million. A new £63m factory was opened in Brazil in 2012 and two new factories costing £62 million were opened in Jaipur, India during 2014.
JCB may be the world’s third largest construction equipment manufacturer by volume, but its Chairman remains firmly committed to manufacturing in Britain. With 6,000 employees in its 11 factories in the UK exporting over 75% of production, JCB generates export revenues of £1.35bn and makes a positive contribution to the nation’s trade balance. In fact, an independent analysis by Oxford Economics has calculated that JCB contributes £1.4 billion to national GDP, £555 million to the Exchequer and 24,000 jobs overall to the UK economy.
Lord Bamford has held some key positions in British society over the years but it is for his many business achievements that he has achieved the most recognition, including National Westminster Young Exporter of the Year (1972), The Guardian Young Businessman of the Year (1979) and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite (1989). He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1990 and awarded the Commendatore al merito della Repubblica Italiana in 1995.
An award by the UK India Business Council for his significant contribution to Anglo-Indian business relations was bestowed in 2008 and he was appointed a UKTI Business Ambassador in 2010 to promote UK excellence in overseas markets. He has also been inducted into the Association of Equipment Manufacturers‘ Hall of Fame USA and received a number of honorary degrees and doctorates from leading British universities.
He has also presided over JCB winning 30 Queen’s Awards for Innovation and Enterprise since the company’s first award in 1969 and in 2013, Her Majesty The Queen conferred the honour of a Life Peerage upon the JCB Chairman with Lord Bamford taking the formal title of Baron Bamford of Daylesford in the County of Gloucestershire and of Wootton in the County of Staffordshire.
Lord Bamford was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014 and appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 2015.
Lord Bamford and his wife, Carole, Lady Bamford OBE make sure JCB becomes an integral part of every community in which the company operates. JCB supports the NSPCC in the UK and its employees are active fundraisers for the charity’s campaigns to end cruelty to children. There are also many projects at JCB’s overseas locations to support local communities, including the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust in India to assist villages near its factories and the Lady Bamford Center for Early Childhood Development in Savannah, USA. Lord Bamford has also donated machinery to support disaster relief efforts across the globe, for example after the Asian tsunami, earthquakes in Ecuador, Haiti, Indonesia, China and Turkey and after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
His interests include gardening and farming. He also enjoys motorsports and although he wasn’t at the steering wheel at the time, he was the inspiration and driving force behind JCB achieving a world land speed record for a diesel-powered car in 2006. The JCB Dieselmax, powered by two JCB engines, reached a speed of 350.092mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, a record the company still holds today. Over 400,000 JCB engines have been made since then, powering the company’s distinctive yellow diggers and loaders in over 150 countries around the world.