Sir Frank Lampl: tributes from John Spanswick and Alan Crane
John Spanswick FCIOB, who retired as chairman of Lend Lease last month, kept in regular touch with Sir Frank Lampl up until his last illness. Lampl retired from Bovis in 1999, following its acquisition by Lend Lease, but the two men met “every three or four weeks”.
Until the end, Spanswick says he regarded the 84 year old as his “mentor”, for his insight, business skills and ability to engage with people at every level.
“Sir Frank was an amazing guy, when you think of his background he came from. When he arrived in this country [from Czechoslovakia, following the violent suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968] he couldn't even speak English. But he rose from his first job on the Arndale Centre in Luton to become chairman of Bovis, and a member of the P&O board [which was owner of Bovis at the time].”
As Spanswick recalls, Lampl was responsible for building Bovis's international operations in the 1980s, no doubt helped by the fact that he spoke seven or 8 languages. During this period, he also identified the rising importance of US-style 'construction management'.
Sir Frank Lampl FCIOB
“Probably the biggest decision he made was when he acquired Lehrer McGovern [buying 50% in 1986, and fully acquiring it two years later], which brought us into the US market, and also meant we were able to bring construction management to Broadgate.
“Buying McDevitt & Street [in 1990] immediately created a huge presence for Bovis in the US market, almost overnight. He had realised that CM was the future, and was also able to export it to the Asian market.
“He was an exceptional leader, and a very compassionate man, who was always concerned about other people, right up until his last few days. He was incredibly unselfish, and could communicate at all levels with great ease. He was certainly one of the greatest people I've met in business.”
In a tribute to Sir Frank, CIOB vice president Alan Crane said: “On a day with headlines about the economy, taxes and war we lost a special man, a giant of the industry. It is so easy to become preoccupied with budgets and finances, and forget the very human aspect of construction.”
“Sir Frank Lampl was a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building and such was his quality that he was a Fellow of many other professional bodies too. His own personal journey is perhaps even beyond Hollywood’s imagining, from his teenage years as a prisoner in Auschwitz, forced labour in uranium mines, never allowed to visit his own capital city, to becoming a truly world renowned business and construction leader culminating as the lifelong president of Bovis Lend Lease.
“As a leader in our industry Sir Frank was without equal - he built great iconic relationships, not just projects. Not only will he be remembered for his expertise in the very real business of construction, but also for his ability to motivate, enthuse, teach others and encourage talent into our industry.”
But Crane concluded: “I doubt we will fully see his kind again.”
To read more about Sir Frank Lampl's exceptional life, in an extract from the CIOB book on construction leaders published in 2009, click here