Trust-Builder Taking the Lead at First African Claddings
When newly appointed General Manager of First African Claddings (FAC), Van Heerden de Wet, started at the company 20 years ago, the parent company Helderberg Technology Holdings, was still called Aerodyne Technology. When he accepted a job offer, he was expecting to design aeroplanes and rockets, and using high tech composite material. Instead he ended up managing the production of the Caltex pylons and never looked back from there.
Van Heerden matriculated in Stellenbosch in 1987 whereafter he did his 2 years compulsory military service. He was fortunate to spend 4 months in the Caprivi strip of Namibia, though, said Van Heerden, “I never managed to catch a Tiger fish in the Zambezi at the time.” He studied Mechanical Engineering at Stellenbosch University, and not being keen to start working yet, he continued his studies, achieving his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Questioned about what he is passionate about and what gives meaning to his life, Van Heerden responded as follows:
“I believe life is about people. Whatever we do should be of benefit to the larger group of people we deal with, and not first and foremost for yourself. Every day you need to leave the world a little better than you found it”. As neither myself or the world is perfect, I do need to escape the harder realities from time to time. I will jump on my bike at the end of a day (or surf ski !) and in a very short time the world is a better place again! For longer breaks, I love to travel Southern Africa or put my feet up at our family house in Still Bay!”
About his new role and aspirations as General Manager Cladding, Van Heerden had the following to say: “I believe in the same principles for business as for life. I believe that the heart of any company is its employees. If I can provide the environment for every staff member, that will allow him or her to give their best, we will grow to be the most successful cladding company in SA.”
Colleagues of Van Heerden describe him as a man of integrity, who want to do the job right the first time, deliver at the right time, with the focus on solutions, rather than problems.
When clients meet with Van Heerden, they will soon experience that Van Heerden is not a sales –talk- kind- of- guy. He is a natural trust builder. In fact, it is one of the most important things for Van Heerden, when dealing with clients, that trust be a number one priority.