Ramboll in the 1960s
Rambøll & Hannemann won their first projects within incineration plants and waste management, and the environment became a new area of growth.
A time of prosperity: building modern society
During the sixties, Rambøll & Hannemann went from about 30 employees to around 170 employees. In the expanding company’s job adds, emphasis was on the many exciting new projects and the fact that they offered a five-day work week.
Among the employees, a new group emerged as the decade came to its end. Women were slowly entering the company.
“In 1968, I turned up at Rambøll & Hannemann to ask if they would take me on as Technical Assistant. I spoke with the Director responsible for recruitment who proudly told me that they’ve all just recently become on first-name terms, and that this even included the girls – who were almost entirely Technical Assistants or draughtswomen. Female engineers were an absolute rarity”, Ramboll employee Mona Henriksen recalled at her 50 years-anniversary in Ramboll.
As the company grew, the tasks became more numerous, and more diversified. The company started working with incineration plants and waste management, and the environment became a new area of growth. Slowly, projects in other countries emerged, in neighbouring countries Sweden and Norway, in Greenland, but also in developing nations.
Rambøll & Hannemann were engaged in many of the societal agendas that shaped the industries they worked in, eg the industrialisation of the construction industry. On the merits of a more modern and industrialised building site, Børge Rambøll writes – in the spirit of the decade - in 1961:
“People that work hard towing from morning to night do not become bulging muscle men like boxing champions who train hard with deforestation in Canada’s forests. They have their legs and backs wrecked and were, in the past, often worn out by their prime. Knocked out, as boxers”.
Many of the areas Rambøll & Hanneman worked in seem to epitomise the sixties: industrial plants, tele towers, reinforced concrete, and electronic data processing. And some of the buildings too reflect the changes in society in that decade: broadcasting institutions, new Copenhagen University Hospital, bridges, and telecommunication infrastructure.
The movement towards a modern multidisciplinary enterprise had begun.
First office abroad
Intriguingly Børge Rambøll was on vacation in Tunisia when he negotiated one of the company’s first foreign contracts. Johann Hannemann had been in contact with with Tunisian officials and Rambøll had coincidently planned a vacation in Tunisia.
The story begins back in 1964 when Hannemann wrote an article on round steel bar masts in the French journal CIGRE. The article came to the attention of Director Zidi from the Tunisian state-owned steel mill, Elfouladh. The director then posted a letter to Ramboll & Hannemann. This letter is now regarded as the starting point of the company’s international adventures with commercial projects all over the world.
In his letter, Director Zidi wrote that he had read the article and liked Mr. Hannemann’s innovative design. Hannemann held on to the letter, as Børge Rambøll was planning to spend his vacation in Tunisia that same year. Børge Rambøll subsequently conducted the first direct negotiations with Director Zidi while on holiday in Tunisia, and a contract was signed in 1969.
Rambøll & Hannemann was to export its know-how on round steel bar structures, find new usage applications as well as streamline production at Elfouladh.
The company decided to open an office in Carthage, Tunisia, based on the principle that it is prudent to be close to your clients.
MSc (Eng) Jørgen Leisner was in charge of the foreign office, and just the following year he reported that Rambøll & Hannemann had 20 employees and had expanded its client base with, among others, Tunisia’s national electricity company.
The first decade abroad was successful. Tunisia was experiencing a veritable boom in the construction sector. In 1976, Rambøll & Hannemann teamed up with local partners and formed Tunisie-Consult. Rambøll & Hannemann owned slightly less than half of the first modern Tunisian consulting engineering company.
The adventure didn’t last and in 1996 Rambøll & Hannemann withdrew completely from Tunisia.
Explore the next decade
Find out how Ramboll developed in the 1970s