Sparks Electrical News

MIKE VISSER, founder of Power Quality Company along with his partner Elva Visser, is a proud family and businessman with a great appreciation of the earthing and lightning protection industry. His impressive 26 years of experience, include working with the Bombardier engineers on the Gautrain project and, recently, winning the De Beers Venetia contract for the eight-year development of the mine.

Sparks Personality of the Month July 2017Taking a closer look at the alchemy of his achievements, there are two distinct virtues that stand out: a pioneering spirit and a willingness to work hard.

Sparks: Where were you educated?

MV: Peterhouse School, Marandellas, Rhodesia and then I went to Bucknell University in the USA.

Sparks: How long have you been involved in the electrical industry?

MV: I have been involved for 26 years, since starting Power Quality
in 1990.

Sparks: What are the greatest changes you have seen over the years?

MV: The tsunami of crime and fraud in all aspects of life in South Africa of which we are all victims. Copper theft for one causes electrocutions, train derailments, fires and killing of innocent people. This cannot continue. The rise in the importance of safety on site has been rewarding; inductions, medicals, increased specialisation and training are ongoing exercises to improve safety on sites. Finally, one of the biggest changes has been in communication and the increasingly rapid adoption of technological advances, PCs, then laptops, fax machines, mobiles and tablets. The new frontier is software, apps, little screens, and a complete loss of privacy.

Sparks: What significant projects have you worked on?

MV: Working with the Bombardier engineers on the Gautrain project was an eye opener and great learning experience. Earthing of the Beeshoek mine was our first major project back in the mid 90s, Nestlé's Harrismith plant, Sasol’s Ammonia plant and rail loading Mponeng plant, a church in a particularly icy Bloemfontein winter, they and many others were all milestones. Winning the De Beers Venetia contract for the eight-year development of the mine has been a recent highlight.

Sparks: What is your greatest accomplishment?

MV: I would rate my family and children as my greatest accomplishment. Professionally, without a doubt, founding ELPA and working with my peer group over the last three years making it happen has been incredibly rewarding.

Sparks: Who has been your inspiration or have you had a mentor who has influenced your career?

MV: Without my partner Elva, I would never have come this far. In the early days, we partnered with Don Wilkinson who had been in the industry since the 60s, and he taught me extensively while presenting the early earthing and lightning protection seminars in the 90s. With my software background, I appreciate the imagination and achievements of Mark Shuttleworth and Elon Musk, and especially what they have done with the wealth they created.

Sparks: What, to your mind, is one of the biggest challenges facing the lightning protection industry at this time?

MV: Regulation of the industry to a state of conformance, and the unknown adjustments it will come with. Earthing and lightning protection has been largely un-regulated and this has allowed many projects to be carried out without conforming to the codes of practice, putting end users, their personnel, processes, infrastructure and equipment in danger.

Sparks: What do you enjoy most about your job?

MV: Running your own company is a continual challenge and earthing and lightning protection is my passion. I would say I have enjoyed the training of the end users most and I feel that we have raised awareness of the importance of this discipline in the marketplace. Seeing staff members grow, develop and put their shoulder to the wheel has also been hugely rewarding.

Sparks: If you could “do it all again”, would you change anything? If so, what would that be?would do it all again and, of course, be more prepared for some of those hard lessons.

Sparks: What is your advice to electrical contractors and/or electrical engineers?

MV: My advice is to elevate earthing and lightning protection to its rightful place (of significant importance) and cater for it at the design phase. Often it is an after-thought, and this means that the installation can be expensive, which becomes difficult to integrate into the project correctly. If the earthing and lightning protection is considered in the early phase, there is a huge saving to be made.

Sparks: What is your favourite quote?

MV: Osho, paraphrasing the Buddha said the last words of Gautama the Buddha on the earth were, “Be a light unto yourself. Do not follow others, do not imitate, because imitation, following, creates stupidity.”

Sparks: Name three things on your ‘bucket list’ (things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’).

MV: Visit Peru and explore their ancient sites, see full disclosure on planet earth, see alternative energy become accessible to uplift mankind.

BANNER 2

Contact Sparks Electrical News

Title: Editor
Name: Karen Grant
Email: sparks@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

Title: Advertising Manager
Name: Carin Hannay
Email: carinh@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

 
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