Current trends in the pipes, pumps & valves market by Detlev Börner from Walter Meano Engineering As times of uncertainty prevail amidst a global health pandemic, Managing Director, of Walter Meano Engineering shares his opinion and trends of the pipes, pumps and valves market. Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background I graduated from Wits with a BSc Mech Eng in 1985 with a bursary from Anglo American. After a short time on the gold mines, I moved to Kentron as a design engineer working on stabilised systems for the Rooivalk helicopter. I then spent a few years in Germany working on the design of turbine blades for the European Transonic Wind Tunnel and Wind Turbines. Coming back to SA in 1994, I was exposed to production at Kolbenco, producing parts for the motor industry. I took over the reins at Walter Meano in 1999 when my father in-law Eric Meano, Walter’s son, tragically passed away. As time went by the family shareholding changed, with us eventually buying out the remaining family shareholders in 2006. How has your business been impacted by the current crisis and how are you navigating it to remain competitive in the market? We are fortunate that the impact is not that great, in that we have not seen a significant drop in demand. We are attributing this to a catch up in the time lost during shut down and are expecting a decline in demand, as the effects of the pandemic start restricting business from working at full capacity. What are the biggest challenges facing the pipes, pumps and valves sector today? Most of the challenges in the business environment are a result of government policies. There is little that can be done in the short term – so batten down the hatches, keep your powder dry and this too will pass. What are the trends in the sector that you are seeing? What do you attribute it to? It’s difficult to have a positive outlook with the continuous decline in skills and expertise in our industry. Unless government realises that they need to create a businessfriendly environment and improve on our education system, the slow decline will unfortunately continue with the survivors picking up the scraps.
Walter Meano Engineering, +27 (0)11 873 8620, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.wme.co.za 36
Pipes, Pumps and Valves Africa - May/Jun 2020
Detlev Börner, Managing Director at Walter Meano Engineering What is your outlook for pipes, pumps and valves in South Africa? What is the role of your company in this outlook? Walter Meano was established in 1967 and we are now in the 4th generation of the family business, with Walter’s great granddaughter Kirsten, having joined the company at the beginning of this year. With new ideas and approaches we have survived setbacks in the past and will survive this as well. Do you have any key lessons learned during these trying times that you can share with our readers? Don’t panic - prepare for the worst - keep on smiling and as Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. People are more open to change during difficult times, so now is the time implement those changes. Walter Meano Engineering, +27 (0)11 873 8620, email@example.com, www.wme.co.za
Pipes, Pumps and Valves Africa May/Jun 2020