No Sacred Cows – March 2016


gary crawfordOnce put to bed, my musings, personal anecdotes and occasional questioning of the thoughts of others, are seldom reread. And that goes for the sixteen columns I’ve written for Stainless Steel since 2011.

The last issue’s column was a little different. I requested that readers of Stainless Steel let me know what they think of my columns.

Problem is, I didn’t ask the question upfront. I waited for the second paragraph on the second page before setting myself up for a heavy fall.

According to survey experts, the most important question should be at the beginning of the questionnaire.

If readers got halfway through the column before encountering my question, they must have found the first part of the column at least interesting enough to push on to page two.

I was heartened by the comments … not a single negative (maybe a function of the ‘pre-qualifying’). Encouraging, instead: “Makes you think … and smile.”

“I find your comments refreshing and interesting and worth reading.”
“ … I enjoyed reading the article.”
“… Your article provided much inspiration.”

Only a couple of responses were from industry associates with whom I have had a connection. Most were from people I’ve never met, and a few from overseas readers.

Also heartening was the survey result of the electronic version of Stainless Steel

Of the ‘Top Links Clicked,’ John Tarboton’s “Perspective” scored 30, followed by “No Sacred Cows” at 25. For the sake of comparison, the Duplex article scored 19.

However, hardly a word from a friend or sassda pro bono colleague. Perhaps they think I don’t value advice? They couldn’t be more wrong!


nde advertIn his “Perspective,” John TarboForum’s Short Track Report for December 2015 and how it compared with December
2014. The international stainless steel mood has definitely deteriorated.

Will the local mood parallel the international mindset? I doubt it. South African business people are made of tougher stuff. While others may find their way into recessions and depressions, the local ethos moderates our viewpoints.

I believe, under John Tarboton’s leadership, sassda will continue to lobby for fair competition, but more importantly will press on with its efforts to grow the local stainless steel market through innovative communication and the “engaging” of its members and key audiences directly wherever possible, and, where not, through the forging of relationships with trade media (through the regular sassda articles, for example)

Engaging also brings to mind the role of sectors in sassda. In the past, members saw value in attending sector meetings, perhaps because they fraternised with those who shared their problems and opportunities. Sector meeting attendance started to ebb, some say because of increased competition between sector members, or could it be that for a time the powers that be decided that sectors should not exist.

As, I believe, the only person in sassda history who has chaired three sectors, I should be for sectors, if only for the networking and social opportunities they should provide. Perhaps, the old notion of sectors being aligned to types of business (e.g. fabrication sector equates more or less with heavy fabrication) should be dumped. In the current sassda Stainless Steel Buyer’s Guide, sectors are still very much alive. On page 6, under the heading of Industry Sector Development, it is mentioned that: “Sassda members,
in various industry sectors, meet on a regular basis to discuss areas of common interest.” However, that doesn’t happen. Under the same heading, the sectors are listed. Of the nine sectors, four are listed as dormant. Why? Do they simply no longer fulfil a need?

My suggestion. Let’s just ditch the grouping concept. Instead, invite all members to get-togethers where they can network.

The sassda team has some good ideas on get-togethers. The first most probably will be the moving back to Rivonia party in March.

On a more personal front, my decadelong consulting contract with the Metquip Group finished end-February. As did my one-year marketing consulting contract with sassda. On both counts, I feel good about the results achieved.

What’s next for me? Certainly not retirement. Although some may say I’m beyond my sell by date, and having Parkinson’s Disease doesn’t help, I’m game for another few years. I could dive head-long into my latest passion, sculpting (in stainless steel of course). And, the demand seems to be there if the recently offered price of R22 000 for my ‘Some Days’ piece is anything to go by.

It would, however, be a pity to shelve my decades of marketing and strategic consulting experience. So, expect me to knock at your doors. And, my pro bono association with sassda? That’s for you to decide.


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