This past February (2019) the SSPC Board of Governors approved the petition charter from SSPC members in Colombia to establish the fifth SSPC Chapter. Mauricio Herrera in collobration with SSPC members in Colombia were instrumental in establishing SSPC Colombia Chapter, Mauricio’s leadership during the formation of the chapter resulted in his election as the first Chairperson for SSPC Colombia Chapter.
I took the opportunity to interview Mauricio Herrera to learn more about the protective coatings industry in Colombia and understand the country mission of SSPC Colombia. Here’s my “Five Questions” interview with Mauricio.
Jim: So let’s get to it and kick off this interview, please tell the readers who is Mauricio Herrera?
Mauricio: “My professional background is in mechanical engineering and I’m specialized as a bilingual (Spanish/English) Surface Preparation Specialist Senior Engineer. In 1997, I graduated from the Andes University in Colombia as a Mechanical Engineer and shortly afterwards found my passion with surface preparation and the use of protective coatings.”
“My first professional position was for six years with Siemens Colombia, which moved me from Colombia to Canada. After leaving Siemens Canada, I took a position with Wheelabrator Group and participated in the design and manufacturing of several kinds of air blasting equipment and wheel blasting machines that were sold and installed in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. Wheelabrator also sponsored my training at McMaster University Canada for my Masters in Design and Manufacturing.”
“In 2007 I started my own company, Blasting Experts, to support my vision of helping facility owners in Latin America to learn more about the new technologies related to the proper surface preparation and the importance of industrial painting and protective coatings. Another area that’s extremely important to me is skills training and the protection of craft workers who perform abrasive blasting for surface preparation.”
“Blasting Experts first two offices were in Canada and Colombia, and now Blasting Experts has offices and distributors in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Peru. In my role as President and CEO, I’m leading an ambitious project of introducing many new North American technologies into Latin America. I do this while providing sales, installation, commissioning and training of blasting equipment (air assist blasting, wheel blasting, robotics, blasting media and accessories), assisting industries to replace older abrasive blasting equipment, and contributing significantly to environmental protection and importantly the safety of craft workers.”
Jim: Colombia is Latin America’s fourth-largest economy and has consistently been a leading country in providing petroleum to global customers. What is the current state of the protective coatings industry in Colombia?
Mauricio: “To the surprise of many of Blasting Experts partners in the USA, Colombia is one of the leaders in Latin America in the coatings industry in Central and South America. Colombia has over 150 SSPC and NACE members and more than 200 certified protective coatings inspectors. Universities in Colombia also offer corrosion educaton to engineering students, as well as having a Masters in Corrosion Engineering.”
“The opportunity to grow professionally is great in Colombia, because there is an understanding of the corrosion problem and many companies are willing to invest in the education, training, equipment, and the maintenance painting of industrial and marine structures.”
Jim: What future plans does the SSPC Colombia Chapter have and how can SSPC members in Colombia join the chapter?
Mauricio: “Our 2019 initial goal of establishing the SSPC Colombia Chapter was to sign as many SSPC members in Colombia as possible. Now we are actively working towards organizing chapter technical seminars (conferences) and outreach events to promote the mutual mission of SSPC Colombia Chapter and SSPC and to increase the awareness in relation to the importance of training, certifications, as well as how to incorporate SSPC resources and programs into their daily activities.”
“We (the chapter members) realize that with the approval of our charter, SSPC Colombia will need international sponsors to help us achieve the chapter goals. Currently our chapter leadership and members are working on a strategy to present the chapter as an active and relevant partner in the coatings industry in Colombia as well as the overall industries in Central and South America.”