Juan Caballero Master coatings inspector and sspc board member

Jim: Juan, this past June 4th it was announced to SSPC membership, that you were elected as the International Board Member, to serve your first term on the Board of Governors of SSPC. First, let me congratulate you on your election as the first Latin American Board Member. For the members and readers, who might not know you personally, please tell us your background in the protective coatings industry, and how you arrived on the SSPC Board of Governors?

Juan: “Jim, first of all, I would like to mention that I highly appreciate being considered for this month’s edition of the “Five Questions Interview with Jim Kunkle”. You have been doing an amazing job with this initiative to promote the industry overall. For those who may not know me as of yet, I have been involved with protective coatings for more than seventeen years now, but let me tell a short story on how I first entered the coatings industry. Back in the days, I was completing my Engineering degree when I was considered to apply for a position in a paint company. I did not have a clue at that time on the great industry I was about to be part of... I thought to myself it could be a good opportunity for a “first job experience” and that I can then move on to something different. I was totally wrong. I have never thought about leaving this ever-changing, challenging, and dynamic industry. I thank God every day for putting me in the right spot, and allowing the opportunity to get into the protective coatings industry. Since then, I have had the opportunity to be involved in different roles in a diverse range of markets of the steel and concrete coatings industry. Throughout my career, I have also been able to gain real field experience in different projects helping owners and contractors, hold executive positions, and even finally being able to run my own business.”

Juan a Superhero, maybe?

“Regarding my path to the SSPC Board of Directors, I think it has been an amazing journey. It all started several years ago when I decided to become a member of SSPC. Very soon I recognized that the SSPC Mission was the missing X-Factor link for the Latin American development of the coatings industry. Then when you and I met for the first time Jim, we built a plan with the SSPC mission as the main driver. The rest of the story came along together naturally. The Panama Chapter was born as the first Latin American Chapter, where I was a founding member and also the first President. After that, I started to collaborate with my fellow industry colleagues in the Latin American region. The work along with them set the ground to the first SSPC Latin America Advisory Council. I was elected as the first Advisory Council President to lead this excellent group of experts on developing regional strategies based on identifying main barriers and how to overcome them. The rapid growth of SSPC in Latin America together with the association’s great interest in developing the region generated the necessity to have a Latin American presence on the Board of Governors.”

Master Coating Inspector (MCI), Inspecting

Jim: As the incoming (July 1, 2019) International Board Member for SSPC, how will you represent the international members and stakeholders? Will there be a focus for your first term that you want to accomplish being on the board and working with the Executive Director and staff at SSPC?

Juan:  “Thank You for asking, Jim. For me, it is a great satisfaction, but at the same time, a great responsibility to represent the best interests of the members and stakeholders on the SSPC Board. I will do so by understanding their main common challenges. As an industry, to establish the right strategies to overcome them and promoting initiatives that provide value to the entire membership. My goal is to continue to unify efforts with the international community to promote the SSPC Mission on a global basis, which is industry growth and development.”

Juan Greeting Officers of the Panama National Aeronaval Service

“My focus on working with the Executive Director and the staff of SSPC will be to continue to liaise and work together closely. Supporting their work, finding continuous improvement opportunities, providing my long-term experience, industry know-how, and transferring my industry understanding of workers limitations, contractors’ challenges, engineers and inspectors’ concerns, owners’ expectations, and overall industry barriers. That allows me to make in-depth analysis and provide appropriate recommendations in favor of the different membership demographics, as well as propose new synergies with them.”

Jim: Being the first SSPC board member from Latin America, what near-term and future opportunities do you see between the Latin American protective coatings market and SSPC?

Juan: “As the first SSPC board member from Latin America, I have had the opportunity to better understand the main differences between the different regions, languages, cultures, challenges, and expectations. I can visualize near-term opportunities regarding SSPC support to Latin America with more resources available in Spanish, such as standards, training, and information. That will provide greater access to coatings knowledge and education to a wider range of professionals.”

Focusing on Marine Coatings with the Camara Maritima de Panama Board (2019)

“Future opportunities I can visualize, are the Latin American integration, and establishing SSPC as the main source of coatings information, the primary reference for surface preparation, coatings application and health and safety related to protective coatings. I can see SSPC together with key regional players making an important difference as the regional platform for industry improvements and career pathway opportunities for craftworkers and engineers involved in the coatings industry.”

Jim: In addition to holding the first SSPC Master Coatings Inspector (MCI) certification in Latin America, you hold many other certifications from SSPC. How have the Training and Certifications that you have achieved from SSPC benefited you professionally, as well as Naval & Industrial Solutions (NIS) as a company?

Juan: First of all, it is important to mention that I have spoken at length with industry peers around the world. We have recognized that in general terms, there is a weakness in the academic field about corrosion and coatings knowledge. For me, as a professional, committed to the coatings industry, having become a certified SSPC Master Coatings Inspector (MCI) has provided me with a “Masters in Coatings.” of sorts. This combined with many other certifications from SSPC, complementing my experience, and engineering career, has provided me an invaluable resource, as well as establishing myself as industry credited professional, a proven industry expert. When I founded Naval & Industrial Solutions, it was done with the vision to deliver top quality services related to coatings engineering, consulting, inspection, and training. As a Corporate Member, I have found that SSPC is the right partner to access first-class knowledge, information, training, and networking to be able to accomplish this vision. We are now able to support adequate business, steady growth, and recognize one another within the industry.”

Juan is a provider of SSPC Protective Coatings Inspector (PCI) in Central America

Jim: By the time this interview is posted, you will have been installed on the SSPC Board of Governors as the International Representative Member. What message would you like to convey to your fellow International SSPC Members?

Juan: “To my fellow international SSPC members, I would like to mention that I feel highly honored. To have been elected by the global membership to represent them on the SSPC Board of Governors, I would like to express sincere gratitude. This new election represents a commitment to the international community. During my SSPC Board of Governors term, my main objective will be to adequately represent their common interests, continue to unify all the necessary efforts to work together in various initiatives for the continuous development of the coatings industry. Finally, I would like to thank all members, non-members, and peers. All my coatings brothers and sisters, the whole industry family who has believed, supported, encouraged, and shared this vision of a better industry through SSPC. Nothing would have been possible without them!”

SSPC Protective Coatings Inspector (PCI) Course in Quito, Ecuador (2018)

Thank You readers of this interview series and for all the support and encouragement that you provide to me! Because of you “Five Questions Interview” has become a success!

If you have someone in mind that should be featured in a “Five Questions Interview”, please email me at kunkle@sspc.org

I would like to thank both Cara Blyzwick (SSPC Individual Membership Specialist) and Nicole Lourette (SSPC Events/Exhibits Specialist) on their professional assistance in providing editorial review and formatting recommendations.

This interview series does not reflect any opinion, support, or promotion by SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings. All photographics provided by Juan Caballero, SSPC, and myself.

“Juan Caballero, MCI: Latin America’s Coatings Authority” was produced by Jim Kunkle, PCS and published August 2019

Two Amigos - Panama to Chile Flight (2018)
Created By
Jim Kunkle


Special Thanks to: Juan Caballero MCI, Cara Blyzwick, Nicole Lourette, SSPC: The Society for Protective Coatings, Naval & Industrial Solutions (Colombia & Panama).