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Rafael del Pino: tribute to Ferrovial founder

Rafael del Pino y Moreno, one of Spain's leading entrepreneurs who founded family-owned construction company Ferrovial in 1952, died last month aged 87. Here is the tribute paid to him by his company.

In a long and distinguished business career, del Pino was chairman of a number of companies, such as Europistas, Enagás and Philips Ibérica. He was also a founder member of Círculo de Empresarios and he chaired construction industry group SEOPAN and the Board of Instituto de la Empresa Familiar (IEF).

Following his first steps in the construction industry, Rafael del Pino launched his own project in the autumn of 1952. First, he travelled around Europe to see how railway lines were built in other countries. In Germany, he purchased, for the equivalent of €6,000, the necessary machinery to export the system to Spain.

“A million pesetas of the time; a tidy sum,” he said. With the new tools and “a great deal of enthusiasm and determination”, del Pino founded Ferrovial. His first office was in an attic near the Jerónimos church in central Madrid.

Focusing initially on repairing track and sleeper fixing, Ferrovial obtained its first project in the province of Burgos. The company soon began to move abroad, and in the 1960s it built roads, hydroelectric plants and water treatment plants. The construction of the Bilbao-Behobia toll road was a milestone in the company's development – its first move into the transport infrastructure concession business.

Despite the crisis in the 1970s, del Pino spearheaded a move to internationalise Ferrovial and diversify into infrastructure concessions, real estate development, municipal services and infrastructure maintenance.

Since then, Ferrovial has established itself as the world leader in innovation and sustainable management. The company now operates in more than 40 countries, employs some 100,000 people and boasted revenues of more than €14 billion in 2007.

Del Pino often insisted that his success lay in finding capable colleagues who shared his enthusiasm for expanding the Group, guided by principles such as “serving society, the love of a job well done, hard work, austerity in spending, ploughing profits back into the business, constant adaptation to a changing society” and “keeping our sights firmly on the future”.

In 1999, his interest in the world and his passion for entrepreneurship led him to found the Rafael del Pino Foundation in order to "contribute to enhancing the knowledge of Spain's future leaders, foster individual initiative and promote the principles of the free market and business freedom.

“Our leaders have shown that tenacity and hard work can lead you to a position of excellence in any field of knowledge and professional and business endeavour. It is important to enable them to develop their skills successfully in an increasingly globalised world, where competitiveness is vital,” he said.

“We all have an important job to do: ensure that the knowledge we inherited, with the valued added by us, will continue to be transmitted to future generations. This viewed from the perspective of service and through our dedication, work and sacrifice. And if we use our knowledge to improve the welfare of others, we will have done our duty and contributed a little to facilitating co-existence of the Earth's inhabitants”.

“You’ve got to do things with love,” he would tell his collaborators. “With a cool head, but with a very warm heart; otherwise it's not worth doing.” In 2000, he handed the reins of the company to his son, Rafael del Pino Calvo-Sotelo, and was appointed honorary chairman.

May he rest in peace.

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