BUSINESS partners and good mates Bruce Bolam and David Pennells only signed a single contract together – on their first job 10 years ago.
Since then they have completed millions of dollars worth of developments in Bathurst together that transformed the face of the city.
Mr Pennells on Sunday paid tribute to his close friend, the man known in Bathurst as “Bruce the Builder”, who died on Saturday. He was 78.
Mr Bolam was a former mayor of Bathurst and one of the city’s most successful businessmen.
He arrived in Bathurst with his family on holiday in 1974 and never left.
The family spent their first winter here living in the old caravan park before Mr Bolam went on to become one of the region’s most successful business people.
In a long career as an entrepreneur he created or developed nine diverse types of businesses, including a security business that expanded from one branch to 30 and became the largest privately owned security business in Australia.
Mr Pennells said Mr Bolam was the “most wonderful, generous, clear-thinking person I’ve ever known”.
“He had an unbelievable mathematical mind, he would think things through so far in front of everyone else,” Mr Pennells said.
“As mayor he did not build Ben Chifley Dam but he was the one who fought to have the money put away for the dam. His foresight was second-to-none.”
Mr Pennells, the principal of Inland Building and Construction, said he had worked with Mr Bolam for 10 years and the pair had never had a “crossed word”.
“I had his trust and he had mine,” he said.
“We built the VERTO building together, a $4 million building, and we never signed a contract. Try finding another developer or another builder who could do that.”
Mayor Gary Rush said Bathurst had lost a great friend of the city.
He said Mr Bolam would be “sorely missed”.
“I am sure I speak for many Bathurstians when I say that today Bathurst is in mourning,” Cr Rush said.
“At this time we feel very much for Bruce’s family and friends and we would all share the view that he was a great participant in the community, serving as mayor on Bathurst City Council and as a prominent business man who used his success to benefit and support many local people and volunteer organisations.”
Cr Rush said Mr Bolam had a strong belief in Bathurst.
“He loved the city and loved the people and through his many developments showed his strong understanding of the rich heritage and history of Bathurst.”
Mr Bolam ran for council in 1984, was elected and became mayor at his first meeting.
He was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2014 for service to the community of Bathurst and was named one of 200 living legends during Bathurst’s bicentennial celebrations in 2015.
He told the Western Advocate in 2014 that he had acquired more than 40 parcels of land on which he had renovated or constructed more than 31 commercial buildings, leased to 57 tenants.
Some of Mr Bolam’s high-profile developments include lower George Street and the former Tindalls Corner eyesore, the Centrelink complex on Russell Street, VERTO on Howick Street and his loft-style apartment on George Street overlooking Machattie Park.