The biennial Sassda Columbus Stainless Awards are a testament to the strength and durability of the South African stainless steel industry, despite the buffeting winds of change that have beset our country in the two years since the last awards event was held.
This year, as was the case in 2016, Sassda employees personally interviewed each of the awards entrants, to remove barriers to entry. A benefit to this approach is getting the opportunity to talk to our members face-to-face about their successes and what we saw was that often companies are working closely with their projects and don’t necessarily see the brilliance of what they’re doing.
The personalised entry process resulted in 189 entries from 53 companies which represents a 20% increase in entries since the last edition in 2016. These led to a stellar list of more than 60 finalists from the five key sectors that make up the awards.
- Support Category – Environmental, Manufacturing Innovation, Services, Students and Welding.
- Sector Awards – Architecture, Building & Construction, Agro-Processing, Food & Beverage, Art, Consumerware, Hospitality & Catering and Engineering.
- Product Awards – Duplex Stainless Steel, Ferritic Stainless Steel and Product Development.
- Business Awards – Business Excellence, Export Achievement and a new category this year, Most Transformed.
- Grand Prix – Overall Winner and Lifetime Achievement Award.
Within these categories, entries ranged from locally manufactured stainless steel corrugated pipes to world-class architectural masterpieces to feats of engineering and inspiring stories of transformation and growth among our members.
Ten judges spent an entire day pouring over the entries, taking time to analyse each one. Key comments included the following from SAIW CEO Herman Potgieter, while assessing the winner of the Environmental Category: “My reason for selecting this finalist is the possibility of improving life and conserving water for millions of people in future.” When looking at the winning entry in the Architecture, Building & Construction category Graytex Metals MD Jason Naude commented: “An outstanding example of the use of stainless steel to create a beautiful architectural ‘signature’, true to form and function, which makes dramatic use of reflectivity and demonstrates an understanding of stainless steel’s characteristics.”
In the Business Excellence category, Crown Publishers Editor Peter Middleton commented on the winner Fabrinox, stating: “This award is justly deserved in light of this company offering sustained high-quality and customised services to the stainless industry for 25 years.” Looking at Runner-up Sello’s Gutters, Middleton added: “A great example of how transformation and a willingness to offer better service and to collaborate with fellow local suppliers, installers and service providers can have an all-round positive effect.”
In terms of the new Most Transformed winner, Sky Hill Heavy Engineering, the judges commented: “Through training and equity partnerships, the company has transformed from a Level 5 B-BBEE company against the new codes in 2016/2017 to a Level 1 B-BBEE company today. Black females now own 30% and black men 21% of the company.
The company is indeed transformed and has achieved this very rapidly.” For the overall winner, ND Engineering, the judges felt the company was consistently impressive with a variety of projects in a number of different categories. “We were particularly impressed with the large number of duplex stainless steel projects and congratulate the company on establishing such a high benchmark for aspirational fabricators of stainless steel.”
In general, the judges were very pleased with the locally originated nature of the entries, and it was encouraging to see the determination of companies to innovate, to localise, to create solutions to problems and to develop their people. The passion of the entrants is what sets them apart.
So, with all the doom and gloom of the economy, being part of the awards process was heart-warming and uplifting. There is no doubt we have quality companies and individuals in the stainless steel industry and that we have the capability to grow this market into the future.