Mr BG Mabey
Bevil Mabey was born in 1916, in Richmond, Yorkshire. He was one of three children, with a sister and an older brother (sadly killed in action early in World War II). Bevil’s father owned a small builders merchants, Mabey & Johnson Limited.
Bevil was educated at Tonbridge School and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he took an honours degree in Anthropology, Archaeology and History. He then joined the Army, serving for seven years in France, North Africa, Sicily and Italy.
After leaving the Army, Bevil joined his father to help him run the family business, eventually taking over completely. Over sixty years, he built the original small business into a successful privately-owned group of companies that offers a range of products for sale or hire in construction markets world-wide. For more than a decade, the group’s turnover has been consistently in excess of £100m and it has more than a thousand employees.
Bevil Mabey’s influence over the design process and his ability to grasp engineering concepts were undoubtedly a major factor in creating the company’s success. The company has six Queen’s Awards for Export Achievement (1973, 1978, 1982, 1987, 1998 and 2002). In 1984, Bevil Mabey personally received a CBE for services to the export industry. Following Bevil’s lead, the company continues to invest in product development, advanced production equipment and new ventures, to remain ahead of its many competitors around the world.
From the original Mabey and Johnson business, a number of hire businesses has evolved, including Mabey Hire in the UK and Mabey Inc. in the US. These businesses follow Bevil Mabey’s principles of developing excellent products and providing good quality sales and engineering support. These principles, together with high levels of service, help the hire businesses to stay ahead of their competition in this specialist market.
Another evolution from Mabey and Johnson Limited is Mabey Bridge. Under Bevil Mabey’s guidance, this company developed the concept of the wartime ‘Bailey Bridge’. Based on the original temporary construction, the engineers designed a permanent structure that used the latest materials and production techniques yet retained the basic simplicity of the wartime creation.
In 1966, Bevil Mabey bought the ailing Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, preserving 300 jobs in Chepstow, South Wales. In the 1970s, this company built two 12,000-tonne box girder bridges, the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde in Glasgow and the Avonmouth viaduct that carries the M5 over the Avon. It also built a large section of the Humber Bridge. More recently, the company provided 46 bridges for the M6 Toll Road and constructed the new 200 metre-span Usk Crossing in Newport.
Investment in modern equipment and manufacturing techniques at the Chepstow factory has allowed Mabey Bridge to grow and succeed where other UK bridge-building companies have failed. Recent investment at the new Newhouse site has taken the company into the wind turbine tower market, in which it became the UK market leader after less than a year of operation.
Bevil Mabey created a world-beating group of companies that combines the very best of British engineering, manufacturing, dynamism and determination. The success of the group lies in the common thread Bevil Mabey wove through all his companies: invest in product design, production techniques and people. His companies became market leaders largely because of his perception and through the personal inspiration that motivated all who worked for him to strive for excellence.
Above all, Bevil Mabey valued people, investing in their development and rewarding their effort and initiative, especially his junior staff. His loyalty to his employees at all levels earned him in turn the respect and dedication that a man of his integrity and stature deserved. Bevil and his family supported a wide range of community activities and charities, particularly those working with the young and underprivileged. His wife, Penny, was involved in the Girl Guide movement for over thirty years, becoming Chichester District Commissioner. Bevil Mabey himself was especially interested in projects that called for initiative and effort, such as Operation Raleigh and Camp Mohawk.
Bevil and his wife lived by the sea in West Wittering, Sussex for over fifty years. Penny Mabey died in 2002 and Bevil Mabey in April 2010.