Sassda chairman, Charles Cammell, an executive of Macsteel VRN, began his review by thanking those who attended the corrosion seminar and by assuring members that the 2016 AGM had a quorum of over 30 people and was, therefore, legally constituted. He then reminded attendees that “sassda is a pro-competitive association and as a result we do not discuss issues which expose us to any form of anti-competitive behaviour.”
Commenting on the trading environment of the past year he said: “I had the privilege of submitting a column to the Stainless Steel magazine for the 2nd quarter edition. This prompted me to consider some possible themes for my review for the AGM. Suffice to say we are certainly operating, both as an industry as well as an economy, under extreme pressure.
“In January of this year, I achieved and have had the privilege of being actively involved in the stainless steel industry for more than 30 years and, quite frankly, I believe that even compared to the global economic meltdown of 2008, we are, as an industry, operating in an even more challenging environment,” he said.
“As John Tarboton will no doubt touch on, the ISSF is forecasting annual global growth in stainless steel consumption of around 2.5% – down dramatically from the heady 5-6% growth of the past. As our South African economy is particularly reliant on the commodity markets and minerals beneficiation, our stainless steel growth has been lacklustre and indeed negative over the last periods. Whilst I have a personal opinion on when we can expect a recovery, it is clear that this is some distance away,” he said.
The economic environment, according to Cammell, has resulted in a real contraction of tonnage sold and consumed in the South African market and has put some pressure on the industry and the association. This has certainly affected both the local producer as well as importers of product.
“This having been said it is incumbent on sassda and indeed the members of the association to align ourselves to the new normal,” he advised. “This has already led to consolidation of capacity and, sadly, a number of job losses and business closures in our industry. Our focus must therefore be on expanding the size of the pie,” he added.
Sassda has faced, over the last five years, the need to review itself, its structures and relevance. “This has been a tough and trying process. Over the last two years John Tarboton has done a sterling job of taking over the ‘back to basics’ approached adopted by Bill Scurr and then focussing on the pillars identified to support these,” Cammell pointed out.
He told members that during the AGM, they would be asked to vote on and accept sassda’s new MOI (memorandum of incorporation). “Just as a brief background, we took legal opinion on the previous MOI and particularly on the funding mechanisms we were employing. These had been in place for a number of years and we needed to ensure we were and are compliant with current legislation as well as being pro-competitive. The review and evaluation resulted in us needing to change the funding mechanisms for sassda. John will take you through a brief summary of the changes but we are comfortable as the outgoing board and main committee that the new MOI serves to protect the association and assists in keeping sassda relevant,” Cammell explained.
Turning attention to the 2016 biennial stainless steel awards he said that he was concerned that with the current tough economic climate, sassda would battle to attract sponsorships and support for this important event. “It was therefore very encouraging that the sassda team, under Kim Stevens and John Tarboton, have managed to entice more sponsors than budgeted. This may well be a vote of confidence in sassda and it is now incumbent on us, as members, to ensure we encourage deserving award winners to enter under the various categories,” he said, adding: “the sassda team will actively support and assist interested members with their entries.”
Touching on two areas Cammell is particularly passionate about, he said that the association had done an excellent job of improving the quality and standard of the training materials and indeed the technical literature available to its stakeholders. “This allows me to acknowledge the hard work and effort put in by Ken Dewar, who spent five years working at sassda post retirement and has, amongst his other tasks, put together a number of excellent technical publications including the most recent – the information series,” he announced.
From a sales and marketing perspective the sassda board tasked Gary Crawford with putting together advertising and marketing campaign last year. “I do believe that the work that Gary led and the proposals he made have been key in the new identity of sassda and continues to underpin our media and communications strategy. Thank you to you both,” he said.
“To the sassda team,” he continued, “congratulations on a very good year. John, your team has met the targets and goals set for and agreed between you and the board. It is encouraging that we are getting renewed interest in the activities offered by sassda.
“In particular I would like to acknowledge both Ken Dewar and Clive Philpots from sassda in Durban. Both have now retired from sassda but we appreciate your input over the years and really hope you remain active as retired members in the association.”
Thanks were offered to the board, audit and main committee: “Thank you for your support over the past year. It has been a privilege working with you and I am certain that without the hours and commitment you give to sassda that we would not have the strong and relevant association we do.
“Finally, to the members of sassda, thank you for your participation and support,” Cammell concluded.