Following a distinguished career of 29 years in Russula and 42 years in the steel industry, José Antonio Suarez has announced his retirement, effective February 9, 2020.
Over the years he experienced many stages of the transformation of Russula from a startup to a multinational. He is well acquainted with the steel production process and has actively participated in very important projects that contributed to the sustenance of the company. He has been very committed to teamwork and supporting the necessities for growth, hence the creation of the workshop for Russula in 2004: an assembly, testing, and training center located in A Coruña, Spain.
As the Purchasing Department Manager, his motto was “buy the best, the right thing and on time.” In this interview, José Antonio shares a glimpse of the past, when the story of Russula first began, and what makes its team stand out from the rest.
In those days, Russula’s staff came from the former SIDEGASA, a steel company that closed in 1988 due to the restructuring of the steel sector in Spain. They knew perfectly how mills worked, what to do and how to do it. For these people the engineering phase was very short and practically non-existent, they applied their accumulated knowledge from years of directly working in steel mills and developed very specific applications with very specific functions.
Well, the first project was the transfer of the ExSIDEGASA foundry to a customer in Malaysia. It consisted of the disassembly, revision, assembly installation supervision and commissioning in collaboration with the client.
The second project that Russula undertook alone was the CELSA mini-flat bar mill. It was a complete mill revamp project that was carried out in 1992. At that time, Russula had few personnel resources and, nevertheless, successfully executed this project. There was no purchasing department, no engineering department, nor sufficient resources for the control and management of the project. We only had an accounting department and a few technical people who were in charge of different matters. Even with limited resources, the project was an outstanding success.
In 1997, Russula carried out the complete revamp of the two-strand wire rod mill for Nuevo Montaña Quijano in Santander, Spain, now part of the CELSA Group™. It cost us sweat and tears at that time. Today, Russula could cruise through that project easily. Even with limited technical resources and equipment, the project went ahead and the plant became a great client.
From my point of view, these are the projects that have defined Russula: demonstrating the team’s dedication, work capacity, and their spirit to overcome challenges, and above all, to never give up before a great challenge, that’s what makes Russula ‘so great’.
At that time Russula was a young company with few resources, but with great enthusiasm to grow and keep growing, there was immense human potential, everyone gave it their all and more, no matter the hours worked, with one only thought in finishing, in accomplishing, the team threw all their weight together on the same rope in the same direction, with an eagerness to better themselves.
We did projects that seemed impossible to develop with 4, 5 or 8 engineers. The first thing we thought was “we aren’t going to make it”, “this project will be the end of us”. But each time we set the bar higher, we rose to the challenge over and over again.
I think it is a seed that has been sown in Russula since that time and I hope it continues to be sown. The Russula workforce has great commitment and will continue to set great challenges, there is great potential for huge successes. The young people will understand the culture little by little and will bring forth great results.
Technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and today’s digital information age has nothing to do with that of yesteryear in terms of quality, time and results, etc. But one must understand that customer requirements will always increase, and you have to satisfy the customer, results rule.
In those days the experience factor was worth more. Today we see simpler, faster and more efficient applications. As I said before, technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and we have to go with the times, but the human factor cannot be eliminated. The machine does not understand challenges, does not understand successes, has no desire to overcome, etc. For the moment, each will occupy its own space. Everything in good time.
The changes have been, also there are many years. But I would list five:
Our ability and know-how and, above all, the success of our projects, that is, our ability to exceed customer’s expectations.
I could list many good things about Russula, for example, the big challenges and its enthusiasm. But there are also many other things that sometimes we do not give much importance to but they are very important; I have had the luck and honor to be able to enjoy and share with many people my passion for work, the ability to overcome very difficult circumstances in very difficult times and, above all, the respect and professionalism of all. Russula has an untold human potential, an inexhaustible source of wisdom, an elite training school. Thinking about it now makes me sad to leave.
I have great memories of Russula throughout the past 29 years. It is difficult to name only one, but I would say Russula’s – unwavering urge to excel. With little, we do great things, overcome great challenges, accomplish the impossible. As always!
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