In the Spotlight – Paolo Trinchero

F: Tell us about your life in the steel industry
PT: I have been involved in the steel industry for almost 31 years. Starting off in 1988 as a young Dorbyl structural engineering bursary student, I completed my BSc in civil engineering at WITS in 1990 and then in 1993 I did a Masters under the supervision of Professor Alan Kemp who introduced me to the workings of the SAISC, which I joined in 1998 as Consulting Development Engineer and Technology Director under the guidance of Dr Hennie de Clercq.

F: Did you ever work in the commercial environment?
PT: Yes. I became Engineering Manager at Macsteel Trading in 2003, ultimately becoming Group Business Development and Technical Director at Macsteel Corporate Services. But throughout
my 11 years at Macsteel I never lost touch with the SAISC and became its CEO in 2013.

F: Why did you choose the SAISC route?
PT: I wanted to get back into engineering and contribute to the industry. Little did I realise, however, that the industry was heading into such a difficult place. After my first six months as CEO of SAISC, Highveld Steel went into business rescue and the boom times of the Soccer World Cup and the advent of the Steelwork for the large Power Station projects were really part of the past. The result is that currently we are faced with much tougher times in the steel construction industry in the Southern African region where large projects are few and far between and international competition is growing. The challenge now is to focus on the good things happening in the industry and rebuild capacity as our economy gradually improves.

F: How did you get involved with the SAIW?
PT: My first experience of the SAIW was as a first year civil engineering student at WITS. During our end of year experiential training in all things steel we went to the SAIW to learn more
about welding and had great fun doing practicals and learning how to weld. I am not sure if our teachers and supervisors had quite as much fun as we did but our welds as you can expect were
“perfect!” Throughout my early engineering career, especially my time at WITS and on starting a new business within the Macsteel stable, the SAIW has been there to assist with great technical advice and training.

F: What do you feel about the SA welding industry and its future?
PT: Fortunately, the SA welding industry, which is a high-quality industry, does not depend on construction alone but also on a wide range of manufacturing, which helps to keep them going.
In the meantime the mining, manufacturing and construction industries will recover and the demand for skilled, well-trained people in the industry will return which will be good for the industry and for the SAIW.

F: What do you feel about the role that the SAIW plays in the future of the welding industry in SA?
PT: The SAIW plays a critical role in all fields that require welding and welding technology. The unique services they offer and the broad spectrum of the welding community means that the SAIW will continue to play a significant role in all things welding in Southern Africa and in Africa! In addition to this they are a critical link to maintaining quality and international standards in our, and the continent’s manufacturing community. I would like to encourage industry to utilise their services as they are a key link in the steel construction supply chain.