Construction Europe's first cover, and the 25th anniversary front

Construction Europe's first cover, and the 25th anniversary front

The April 2015 issue of Construction Europe marks the 25th anniversary of the first edition of the magazine.

In April 1990, with significant changes about to happen all over Europe and the world, James King published the first, and still the only pan-European construction magazine.

He set up a company, KHL, and with Paul Marsden on board as editor, the first issue of Construction Europe was created.

Many of the industry decision-makers who were attracted to those first issues are still readers today, and, in many ways, the editorial aims of the magazine are much the same as they have always been – to inform the construction industry across Europe. It is that simple. The industry needs to know what is going on, and in a post-Single Market continent, it is essential for companies of any significant size to command a pan-European view of their world.

Construction Europe has always been at the heart of Europe, with close relationships with the people and companies making the news, but also with the organisations at the sharp end of the legislative process. With Brussels the epicentre of much of what goes on in Europe, it has been important for Construction Europe to work with the people there, listening to those who are chipping away at the regulations to make sure the voice of the industry is heard and understood.

These relationships go back to the very first issue of Construction Europe where readers were able to read the CECE Report from the Committee for European Construction Equipment. Of course CECE still has a regular column in the magazine, and has been joined by FIEC (the European Construction Industry Federation) and EFCA (the European Federation of Engineering Consultancy Associations). With legal advice from international law firm Pinsent Masons, the regular flow of opinion and advice has long covered the essential requirements of the readers.

Companies have come and gone over the past 25 years, but it is noticeable how many companies who are mentioned in the first issue, and many who advertised, are still around, still making news, and still advertising. The construction industry is remarkable in its almost family-like structure – once in the industry, it is rare for anyone to leave for another field.

This is mirrored by Construction Europe. There have only ever been three editors – Paul Marsden was followed by Chris Sleight, who although he moved over to sister publication International Construction, still writes the CE finance pages every month. Sandy Guthrie took the reins nearly five years ago.

On the sales side, there have only been two advertising managers in the history of the magazine – James King and, since 1998, David Stowe. And so while many aspects of the construction industry have changed enormously, and the publishing sector is in many ways unrecognisable from the way it was in the 1980s, there is continuity.

The managing director of KHL and the founder of Construction Europe, James King, takes a look back at why he set up the magazine 25 years ago

In 1986, the Single European Act was signed, to create a single market by December 1992, and while the benefits are taken for granted, there was back then no free movement of people, capital or goods in Europe.

This new Single Market would become the largest construction industry in the world.

With fewer trade barriers existing, contractors, consultants, rental companies, utilities and manufacturers could expand throughout the continent.

The whole process resulted in a revolution in trade, regulations, health and safety, currencies, capital movement, company strategies and general business practices.

At the time, there was no magazine covering this huge new, unified market.

There was a shortage of public information to help construction companies understand the consequences and changes in Europe, and suppliers to the industry had nowhere to promote a pan-European image and commitment to match their customers’ expansion.

With this critical information requirement and a new demand for advertising, in a massive new market, it became clear that a new magazine was required. And so, KHL was born on 7 December, 1989, with Construction Europe launching in April 1990.

On the whole, the Single European Market has been a force for good in the industry.

Recently, many countries are reverting to a more nationalist way of thinking but memories are short.

Europe was a far harder place to do business before 1992 and, from a geopolitical point of view, we live in a far safer and more peaceful continent now than the generations before us.

Construction Europe, in its own small way, has furthered the integration of Europe and certainly the European construction sector by providing a platform for free speech and dissemination of vital information to the market.

Paul Marsden, a director of KHL, was the editor of the first issue of Construction Europe in 1990. He evaluates the massive changes in the industry since then

A week might be a long time in politics but 25 years is certainly a long time in the construction and construction equipment industries – and how the industry has changed.

Over the last quarter of a century Construction Europe magazine has reported on those changes. There have been changes in construction methodology, technical developments, innovations in engine technology, taller buildings, longer bridges and tunnels, and many, many more advances.

The idea of a building climbing almost a kilometre into the sky 25 years ago was just pie in the sky. Now, through the combined efforts of designers, engineers, project planners, architects, financiers and other visionaries, such sky scrapers exist – and taller ones are planned.

Those buildings stand as a tribute to an industry that continually strives to advance its methods and techniques, its achievements, its safety record and the professionalism of its people.

It is, after all, the biggest single industry in the world.

In the field of construction equipment, there have also been many significant developments. Legislation across the globe, particularly in Europe and the US, has demanded incredible reductions in emissions from the industry’s engine suppliers. These have been demands that the industry has met with flying colours. Engines today are significantly cleaner than they were 25 years ago – a great achievement from any point of view.

The way that the information within the pages of Construction Europe is disseminated around the region, and indeed around the world, has also changed significantly over the past 25 years.

In the beginning there was just paper and a traditional regional postage system. Every month, thousands of magazines were carefully printed, collated, bound, trimmed, put into postage wraps, carefully labelled and addressed, and then posted to destinations across the region.

Today, we still send out thousands of paper magazines – that’s how many of our readers want to receive it.

But in addition, we have added many other information streams. These include digital magazines which are delivered direct to computers across Europe; tablet versions of the magazines with rich media; regular e-newsletters; regular e-news alerts; a big social media presence; and much more.

This is all, of course, in addition to our website, www.KHL.com that features news from Construction Europe and all KHL’s other construction-centric magazines and news sources.

We strive to provide information in whatever format our readers want, as we always have. In fact, Construction Europe was the first business-to-business magazine in Europe to be made available in the then new digital PDF format.

A great deal has changed over the past 25 years, and that pace of change looks set to accelerate even more over the next 25 years. But, whatever the pace, whatever the change, whatever the impact, Construction Europe will be there to cover the developments, to report on them, and to try to make sense of them – just as we have for the past 25 years.

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