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Life as a chemist and teacher

More than 50 years of work make Hugo Haas a reference in the paint industry in Argentina. From his experience, the Professional made a tour of the changes that the industry has experienced during the exercise of his career.

by: Alejandra García Vélez

This story begins in the city of Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina in 1934, but it is difficult to specify what day, because although in the official documents it appears that the protagonist was born on August 31, many say that it was actually a 24. His true date of birth will remain a mystery, but in this article we will know the details of the career of Hugo Augusto Haas, the Professional of the Month of this edition.

His childhood, like his date of birth, was also marked by curious situations: his parents were school teachers and within the exercise of their work they decided to settle in Argentine Patagonia. In that "inhospitable but wonderful region" as he himself defines it, he carried out his primary studies, although on account of the continuous moves he studied twice first grade and three times the third. "But all that never weighed on my life, on the contrary I recognize that it enriched her a lot," says Haas.

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A lifetime of work
He studied high school and university in Buenos Aires, where he received his
Degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) in
1958 and PhD in Chemistry in 1961. At first he followed the vocation of his parents as an educator, he was chosen as a non-graduate teacher of the Faculty of Engineering of the UBA in 1955, and for 25 years he made the entire teaching career by competition becoming the full professor of the chair of analytical chemistry, a position he resigned at the time of subversion in Argentina.

It was precisely during that period that he also served as an assistant of practical work, under the direction of Aurelio Mazza, who in turn was the Technical Director of an important paint factory, "he invited me to work with him, and since then he was my mentor and guide," says Haas.

After rising through different positions to become Technical Director, Haas became independent in 1962 founding with a colleague the SA LUSOL IC factory, which was dedicated to the line of paints for the industry. In 1988 they would sell that factory to BASF Argentina and he would become the General Management of the then newly formed Glasurit de Argentina S.A.

Subsequently, from 1997 to 2000, he was appointed as Director for South America of the automotive paints segment of BASF Brazil; but when his contract expired, he decided to venture again to form his own company and at the turn of the millennium Pulverlux S.A. was born, dedicated exclusively to the field of powder coatings of electrostatic application.

On April 30 of this year he left the presidency of Pulverlux SA and sold the company to the firm Weg Tintas Ltda. of Brazil leaving aside all relationship with the company, and today he only plans to exercise consulting, teaching and research tasks.

Years of experience
More than 50 years of experience testify to the constant evolution in the industry. For our Professional of the Month, the paint sector in Argentina is predominantly dominated by decorative or home and work paintings. "I don't think I'm far behind when assessing that it occupies approximately 60% of the market, reserving for OEM and repainting car paints a value of the order of 10%, with the rest being occupied by the industrial and maintenance paints segment," he explains.

And he added that "the demand accompanies in general the ups and downs of the country's economy. As everywhere, the market is divided between large international or national consortia, as well as a wide variety and number of small companies that are dedicated to specific niches."

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In that sense, he also pointed out that although it is true that the subsidiary companies of the large global consortia have an important technological level, the so-called small companies are, in general, directed by technicians with very good experience and knowledge of the industry and its technology.

Finally, he highlighted the evolution in equipment and processes "investments have focused mainly on improvements in manufacturing systems and color control by instruments. Since the distant – for me – 1955 in which I positioned myself for the first time on a laboratory countertop of a paint factory, progress has been gigantic, being able to affirm that today the technological level reaches that of any developed country".

He also touched on the sensitive issue of commodity prices. In this regard, he said that "the industry has no alternative but to position itself in the face of the problem, attacking it through the substitution of certain raw materials, reformulation of products and price increases. Obviously, this race is not a simple or definitive solution. It is usual that each product has in the master of formulas of the companies more than one composition that respects the quality and characteristic of the product, but that allows the choice of the most convenient raw materials at each specific moment".

To highlight
A time for everything

Beyond his work, Haas states that a person his age needs to take care of three basic aspects, the mental, the physical and the playful. He constantly tries to exercise his knowledge through courses and conferences, reading publications, visiting clients and attending congresses.

Physically, he practices sports daily, whether it is playing tennis, walking, going to the gym, practicing spinning or swimming. And in the playful aspect, he helps the guitar that he has used for years to play music from Argentine and citizen folklore. She also sings in the club choir and enjoys listening to good music.

As for his family, he has a large family: five children who, according to Haas, become in reality nine, when he counts the wives of his four sons, whom he considers and loves as well as his daughters. In addition, he already has seven grandchildren and does not hesitate to affirm that he expects some more.

Author: Vanesa Restrepo

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