Bamburi Cement, which was founded in 1951 by Felix Mandl, has a rich history in-line with Kenya's legacy as a growing and highly progressive nation for over half a century.
Our history is an inspiring account of the pioneering spirit and vision of Felix Mandl, who despite experiencing numerous setbacks during and after World War 2, eventually settled in Kenya and set up Bamburi Cement, which became a household brand, an industry leader and a significant contributor to the development of the region.
We have been at the heart of building Kenya and the East African region through challenging and prosperous times with innovative solutions made possible by hard work, dedication and a relentless focus on excellence.
Our people are the key drivers behind all that we do at Bamburi Cement which has enabled us to become an industry leader by providing a safe and empowering environment to achieve our full potential.
It is this pioneering and innovative spirit that has continued to propel us forward to greater heights.
When the founder of today’s Bamburi Cement, Dr Felix Mandl, first set foot in Kenya in 1951, he discovered a country, which was to become his homeland. Many decades have gone by since construction of the first cement kiln started near Mombasa in 1954, and during that close to a century, Kenya has changed dramatically.
But as Dr Mandl, an Austrian working for a Swiss company Cementia Holding AG Zurich arrived in Mombasa and started the construction of a cement factory, 12km North of Mombasa town behind the then undeveloped Bamburi Beach, he had an ambitious vision.
A man who had a legendary skill for making wise investments, he might or might not have, dreamed that this company would become the largest cement and concrete manufacturing company in the Eastern Africa region. Sure enough no difficult economic situations, policies or uncertainties of the future has ever cast doubt on the soundness of the investment.
Over the years through proficient management practices and a strong foundation of sustainable development, Bamburi has seen tremendous growth, consistently retaining its leadership position to become a brand to reckon with in the region. Consistent over the years has been a discipline for: innovation and quality in cement, and sustainable business practices especially in rehabilitating and conserving the environment.
The strength of the brand and respect amassed these years comes is built on this rich history of doing business in Kenya.
BAMBURI CEMENT’S HISTORY: CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
1951: On 23rd May 1951 Dr Felix Mandl, Austrian businessman and the founder of current day Bamburi Cement arrives for the first time in Kenya to investigate the possibility of starting a cement manufacturing company. Dr Mandl makes up his mind to put up his new cement factory ‘Bamburi Cement Factory Limited’ in Bamburi area.
1951: British Standard Portland Cement Co. Ltd is founded by Cementia Holding Limited (Switzerland) and Blue Circle Industries (UK). The name had to change from ‘Bamburi Cement Factory Limited’.
1952: Dr Felix Mandl and his wife Anny arrive ‘for good’ in Mombasa on 12th January 1952. Construction work of the factory start in April 1952, a courageous move by the investors to start such a major project in such uncertain times.
1954: At the beginning of 1954 the erection of the plant is completed and operations start with 2
Two pre-war designed shaft kilns. The new grinding mill is started in January, and the first kiln in February. In March the second kiln is lit. Cement dispatch start in the last week of April 1954. The Bamburi plant could produce some 100,000 tons of cement, which was Kenya’s annual consumption then.
Soon after enquiries start coming from Tanzania where no factory exist and the company begins to export bagged cement to Dar-es-Salaam on a small scale. Production for the first year: 140,000 tons
1956: The official opening of the Bamburi factory under its former name of British Standard Portland Cement Co. Ltd. was on March 24, 1956. The third kiln is heated up with an annual capacity of 350,000 tons.
In the coming few years extension of the plant by a further three shaft kilns and better technology machinery, increasing production (often exceeded 200 tons/day per kiln), making Bamburi’s shaft kiln plant one of the most efficient and productive in the world.
1957: The company begins to export to Mauritius, then later to Reunion.
1959: An agronomist, Rene Haller is hired by Dr Felix Mandl to produce food for the employees on the quarry reserve land, and plant trees. Haller’s terms of reference were quite clear, to make maximum use of all the company’s spare land, and this is when the Garden Department under Haller started its impressive gardening, landscaping, fruit, vegetable and livestock farming.
1964: Upgrading and expansion to 6 shaft kilns. Cement production capacity in 1964: 400,000 tons per year
1967: Installation of first dry-process Rotary Kiln (RK/1) to cater for export market in Arabian Gulf. Cement production capacity: 700,000 tons per year
1968: Bamburi Cement begins exports to Dubai.
1970: Bamburi Cement is listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) (then Nairobi Stock Exchange). It trades under the Construction and Allied category, under the stock ticker symbol BAMB.
1971: Quarry rehabilitation starts in South Quarry. The exercise which started bv experiencing with the extensive open quarries by planting 3,000 trees on the hard coral was to become today’s Bamburi Haller Park. The operations were later to become today’s Large Eco Systems, the environmental arm of Bamburi Cement.
1971: Dick Roberts takes over as Managing Director from Dr. Mandl. Dr Mandl becomes Chairman of the company, succeeding J.J. Hughes who remains on the board as Vice Chairman.
1972: Construction of Mbaraki terminals in Kilindini, a joint venture between Bamburi Cement and East African Railways and Harbours, consisting of storage silos and packing plant, to promote export operations. Besides bag export, Mbaraki was designed to receive bulk cement supplies from English Point by ship as well as lorries, direct from the factory. Indeed, bulk cement could also, if require, be back loaded from the silos. A rail connection facilitated up-country supply in bulk or bags. The company supplied to Djibouti, Aden, Mogadiscio, Comoros, Madagascar and occasionally Port Sudan and Jeddah.
1974: Installation of second Rotary Kiln (RK 2) to cater for expanding export market. Production capacity: 1,250,000 tons/year
1974: Marine Cement Limited created to manage logistics of export and Bamburi assets outside Kenya
1975: Installation of Electrostatic Precipitators (ESP) dust filters in stacks at RK2. Commissioning of a new production line end 1975 in order to cope with the increasing sales.
1978: Acquisition of mining reserve land in Diani.
1978: The Garden Department is incorporated into a limited company known as Baobab Farm.
1980-81: Energy conversion of Rotary Kilns from Heavy Fuel oil to coal to reduce energy costs. In 1980 sales for the first time exceeded the one million mark with 1,000,500 tonnes, making Bamburi Cement the largest cement exporter on the African continent. This was a milestone for the company which in 1954 started with a humble 100,000 t.p.a.
1980s: The company’s austerity measures taking place on the 1980s onwards lead to among others, a change in the complexion of Bamburi cement, with among others a major move to replace expatriate with Kenyans such that in the space of 3-4 years, Bamburi’s expatriate complement is down to below 10 from over 40, then down to five thereafter. This become possible largely thanks to the company’s heavy investment in staff training since the 1960’s; including a large in-house Technical Training School, a large apprenticeship scheme and a sponsoring scheme.
1984: Dick Roberts retires as Managing Director after 20 years of service, during which the company was a showcase for foreign investment in the third world. Bob Brenneisen takes over as Managing Director.