Originally an academic at Queen's University, Belfast, Alan Bell first came into contact with Keller during a six month sabbatical in 1982. 'My interest was in the application of soil mechanics theory to practice, ' he says, 'not because I wanted to be managing director.'
Early days with the then central engineering department were spent looking at products and processes and comparing theory with what engineers said actually happened.
He enjoyed it so much that he jumped at the offer of a permanent position. Activities included development and design troubleshooting on driven cast insitu and CFA piling, vibroreplacement, vibro-compaction and jet grouting.
His bosses recognised a commercial edge and in 1987 Bell was made contracts director of GKN Colcrete, then a newly acquired sister company to its GKN Keller Foundations division.
Following a management buy-out from GKN in 1990 he became managing director of Keller Colcrete and a year later a director of Keller Foundations. And when Keller merged its activities under the Keller Ground Engineering umbrella in 1997 he was made managing director.
However he says he has never lost his technical interest. The only difference is now 'I'm surrounded by people who know a lot more than I do - such is the depth and diversity of our activities.'