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Living legend of the industry

This space is little to talk about Ramiro Restrepo, a Colombian professional who has given his whole life to the industry.

By Duván Chaverra Agudelo

Ramiro Restrepo is a tireless professional who has dedicated more than 60 years of his life to work, which became one of the engines that keep him with the energy intact and the desire to continue leaving a mark on the industry.

Today he is a recognized and, more importantly, beloved professional by hundreds of people within the industry, not only of paints and coatings, but also within the field of construction which is the sector where he currently serves as an advisor in his vast majority of time.

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More than 60 years involved in the Research & Development industry, his educational contribution, his way of being, among other qualities make him more than deserved his appointment as the Professional of the month of this edition representing Colombia and the Andean region. Through an interview, and extracting some paragraphs from the book of his authorship called: Unconventional resume, we managed to write this special note.

The human being
Ramiro, who was born in Medellin, considers himself a person of peaceful character, who does not like to fight with anyone. "As for my behavior in front of others I try to be kind and friendly to all people, no matter where they come from or what color they have. Sometimes I am a holiday, especially at work, because this way I contribute to making it less burdensome, but without ceasing to be rigorous in the analysis of problems; I'm quiet to the extreme when I'm with large groups," said the professional.

Another aspect that the professional highlights: "I am routine in daily tasks, but in matters of projects or ideas, I always like to change and look for new things, although trying to finish the work already started with dedication and patience".

Culture always by the side
In the musical aspect, he is described as a lover of Colombian old music, boleros, Latin American and Spanish folk music, Juan Manuel Serrat, Isabel Parra, Alberto Cortez and others of the same style; but it has also opened space for the new generations: "I hear a few songs by Shakira that I love; Juanes seems to me a... I'm tired of the records I like and sometimes one of them I have in the car and I listen to it for months."

On cinema, he says he likes all genres, although he hates Cantinflas "because he doesn't say anything coherent": "My star film of all time is Casablanca. I must say that I have dedicated time to cinema as fun since the first youth and the French New Wave and its Italian competition were my favorites; from then on I have seen films of all types, countries and themes but I am only a dilettante in this field."

He also played table tennis, soccer and baseball, with few results; now he reads all the sports news and suffers with the matches of Atlético Nacional and the Colombia national team.

Highlights of his life as a student
About his professional studies, he says "that professors Gabriel Poveda, Alirio Correa and others guided him in the subjects of calculus, chemistry and thermodynamics, and thus he was able to understand concepts such as limit and those of the laws of thermodynamics (not obvious but logical). In the end I had as a 'work-study' a three-month internship at the National Chemical Laboratory, in which I studied and experienced the science of Mineral Treatment and, with these bases, I did the degree work with Alonso Muñoz (later a colleague in Corona Service Centers) on the treatment of a copper mine in an area of Antioquia, " adding that "the formation of the career gave me a global vision of my field of work, which was later complemented by a two-year program at Alfred University, to be able to restart my work as a Ceramic Engineer in Colombian Locería (today Vajillas Corona) in 1959".

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From college, he says what he has learned has been important in his career and in his personal life. "Some of the mathematics, which is little used in industrial practice, served me in my jobs as a teacher, both official and to help my children, nephews, grandchildren and their friends. Later the Mineralogy, the thesis and the internship at the National Chemical Laboratory served me in my work with minerals in Locería Colombiana, in the development of kaolin technology for paints and paper and in the design and commissioning of the first Industrial Minerals plant.

In the United States he made a specialization in Ceramics, he did it at Alfred University on behalf of Corona with promising results; "It was the basis for my performance in Locería Colombiana and in Centrales de Servicio Corona, supported by my best boss and great friend the German ceramist Dietrich Paetsch," said in his biography the professional of the month of this edition.

His professional life
Ramiro is a professional who has gone through different companies in which he always left his trademark. His work activity was present in brands such as Locería Colombiana, Centrales de Servicio Corona (today Sumicol), Pintuco, Química Prodes, Inversiones Mundial (Planning and Development Unit) and Tecnología S.A. He also had an extensive career as an industrial advisor in companies such as Destisol, Polco, Simesa, Minerales Industriales, Electroquímica West, Colombiana Kimberly, Promical, Tintas SA, Camacol (as a lecturer in Medellín, Manizales, Cartagena, Pereira, San Andrés, Cali, Bogotá, Cúcuta and Pereira), Cecal, Pinturas El Cóndor in Quito, among others. Fifty years after starting my first job at Locería Colombiana, I returned to the Corona group as an R&D advisor at Sumicol SAS.

This professional life has allowed him to achieve different achievements that are worth highlighting:
"In Simesa, with Carlos Barragán, we made a product with anticorrosive pigment qualities from the residues that remained when treating the surface of the steel. We were also able to verify that the macrocaolin of La Unión (region of the department of Antioquia) could be processed to be used as a normal kaolin with an adequate previous grinding".

"In Electroquímica West we developed a product called "5 in Everything" because it was lubricant, water repellent, anticorrosive, degreasing and high penetration. It competed against foreign products (5-56 and WD 40) with about 50 years of being manufactured in the United States and with the market monopolized. "

"In Colombiana Kimberly, a cigarette paper factory, together with Esteban Echavarría, we carried out the planning, selection and purchase of the equipment, the reformulation of the inks (they came from France and did not work) and the start-up of a small factory for the coloring of the paper. The biggest problem was that the ink on the surface of the paper was sprayed by friction on the same machine and we corrected it with the addition of a wax that made the surface smoother."

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"I end this point with the work carried out in Polco, with the collaboration of a brilliant chemist (whose name I do not remember), we established chemical tests for the determination of more than 70 elements in the water, some in parts per billion, which were required in the permits to industrial companies to start their operation."

But Ramiro also wanted to have something of his own, like another son to take care of. Then Recidales (Industrial Materials Recovery company) was born, which, after its bankruptcy, became an independent company which was given the name to Tecnología Ltda and later to Tecnología S.A. (to eliminate the Ltda that was not at all sound or convenient).

"In Technology we started the manufacture of mineral coatings and obtained two paints for roofs (fiber cement and galvanized steel); this was the first attempt in the country and, at present, the work of Mónica Bach, Jorge Iván Uribe and Diego Jiménez in Sumicol have managed to improve them a lot". At the moment, these paintings are manufactured in Corlanc with very good results due to new improvements made by Edwin Rivera and Oscas Vasquez.

Subsequently, Ramiro went on to have a new stage with the Corona group in the company Sumicol, as an advisor in R&D of construction materials.

In addition, he has even had time to venture into academia as a professor in different spaces such as Corona Service Centers (he taught practitioners), the Pontifical Bolivarian University, the National University (12 years), and Sumicol, among others; in the latter he has also wanted to teach practitioners and engineers and all those who are interested in his knowledge.

Professional reflections
Ramiro says that "in research one must live with frustration and doubt; in relation to the first, she is very recognized and speaks of the importance of the failures of the researchers who in the end had great successes. In the case of doubt, this difficulty is the daily bread and in many cases stresses, but "there is no cure for this evil."

In addition, Ramiro highlighted some aspects to take into account for those who work in the laboratory: "It is difficult for us to think about what is going to happen in production. We must therefore know the machines and their work variables, so that the final result is satisfactory and is real, faster and more reliable. In the scaling of laboratory tests to pilot plant and series production, it should be borne in mind that, for example, when moving from grinding in small mills to large mills, there is no dynamic similarity, which means that there is no calculable relationship between the times needed to obtain the same size distribution and it may never be that a similar one is obtained. "

On the pointing industry, although today it is a little further away from it, he commented: "I see that everyone is inclined to make water-based products but, due to the few results I have seen, they do not have the performance of those that were previously made with solvent base (polyurethane paints for wood for example); anyway I recognize the great value to reducing the carbon footprint in this industry for society. On the other hand, mineral paints could be the basis for products with better performance in several fields, although for now their use is reduced; it is noted that its carbon footprint is very low and its resistance to weathering is optimal due to its mineral composition."

Manuel: Liberal who believed himself to be a conservative; expert lawyer in mining law, bohemian to die, friend of all and even "panida" (to know the meaning of this word you must ask the grandparents).
Julia: His party was religion; he gave everything for his children.

-Current family.
Wife: María Elena Zapata, woman leader of her family, architect, smarter than me and with a great capacity to love and be loved; he can do anything from the most theoretical (Hermeneutics in literature) to crafts in chaquiras, use the computer and fix things that involve mechanical skill.

Children ("everyone kills me," as the ladies say):
Ana María: Chemical Engineer general manager of a company. Intelligent, loving, attentive to others and with an enviable mental organization.
Camilo: Mechanical Engineer dedicated to art, whose best qualities are his intelligence, his black humor and his incredible creativity and ability for everything.
David: Mechanical Engineer dedicated to logistics and whose main qualities are his intelligence, his gray humor with black tones, his dedication to work (and cycling) and his ease of making friends.
Note: so far, my wife and I, have had an important achievement in relation to the children, which is that they are better than us.

Here I want to make a list of those people who have been great supporters in my professional career:
Chemical Engineering of the UPB: Professors Gabriel Poveda and Alirio Correa and my thesis partner Alonso Muñóz.
Colombian Locería: Don Jesús Herrera and his sons Fabio, Gabriel and Jesús
Corona Service Centers: My boss Dietrich Paetsh and my assistants Jorge Isaza and Alfonso Restrepo.
Pintuco: My second in command but also my teacher, Francisco Martínez and the manager Luis Guillermo Restrepo.
Planning and Development Unit of the World Investment Group (now Grupo Orbis): Carlos Barragán
Advice to manufacturers: The owner of Ladrillera San Cristóbal and his children.
Advice to builders: Walls and Ceilings, AIA, Conconcreto and many other firms that trusted me.
Tecnología S.A.: María Elena Zapata, Ana María Restrepo, Dora Jaramillo, Nicolás Cano, Jorge Iván Uribe, Rosalinda Numa, Cesar Cano and Edwin Rivera.
National University: My fellow teachers Claudia García and Pablo Abad
Sumicol Corona: Jaime Angel, Alexis Bonnett, Pablo Barrera, Carolina Cárdenas, Juan Fernando Arango, Mónica Bach, Daniel Rivero and Diego Jiménez.
Note: "I hope I haven't forgotten many others, equal or more important."

Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Author: Duván Chaverra Agudelo
Jefe Editorial en Latin Press, Inc,.
Comunicador Social y Periodista con experiencia de más de 16 años en medios de comunicación. Apasionado por la tecnología y por esta industria. [email protected]

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