When Bechtel began trading in 1898 with equipment transported by the founding family’s mules, no one could have predicted its impact on the world stage. Starting out on the railroads, the company quickly gained a reputation for the speed and quality of its service and pioneering use of equipment.
By 1925, Bechtel was the leading construction company in the western US and regularly took on government work to build pipelines, refineries and other vital infrastructure. Seven years later, the company would win its most prestigious contract as part of a consortium to build the Hoover Dam.
Following the project’s success, Bechtel was trusted to carry out many more government and state projects and, by the 1960s, was responsible for developing around 40% of all nuclear plants in the US.
It was during the 1970s and 80s, however, that things went into overdrive. Dubbed its ‘megaprojects era,’ Bechtel worked on major airports in Saudi Arabia, the Washington D.C. metro, and the industrial city of Jubail and handled project management for the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Another of the company’s and indeed the world’s most transformational projects would come in 1987 when Bechtel was awarded the contract to manage the building of the Channel Tunnel connecting the UK and France.
The 90s and 2000s saw similar fortunes with multibillion-dollar projects undertaken to manage and build the Hong Kong Airport Core Programme, an extension to the London Underground and yet more infrastructure management for the Olympic Games.
Today, Bechtel is ranked eighth on the Forbes list of America’s Largest Private Companies in terms of revenue and seventh on its list of most important private companies. In 2022, Bechtel generated revenues of over USD 17bn.