The Covid-19 pandemic prevents us from adequately celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the constitution of Acerinox. The oldest among us still recall the twenty-fifth birthday, at the Los Barrios factory, which was graced by the presence of then Prince Felipe and of the Japanese engineers who worked with us during the early years of the company.
Nevertheless, on such a significant date I must congratulate the 8,494 current employees of the Acerinox Group, along with former workers. Working together, we all made it possible, just from its organic growth and the purchase of Columbus, that in 2007 Acerinox occupied first place among the world producers of stainless steel. And today, after the Asian explosion and with the recent acquisition of VDM, it’s still among the top five.
Neither should I forget those who are no longer with us. First of all, our first chairman, José María Aguirre Gonzalo, without whose vision and courage Acerinox wouldn’t exist today: no other financial group, except the one that he headed, dared to invest in steelmaking at the end of the 1960s. Or José Luis Lejeune, who directed construction during the first years of operation of the factories at Campo de Gibraltar and Kentucky; Rafael Naranjo, who in 2007 replaced me as the top executive of the Group; and Manuel López, the first financial director, among others. And the Japanese: Kishimoto, Mori, Nabecho and Araki, who were essential in the first phase of building our factory in Los Barrios.
I take advantage of this opportunity to recall with affection some of the pioneers from that period, especially two people: my assistant and a recognised authority on Japan, Federico Lanzaco; and David Herrero, who joined a few years later as secretary general. Herrero was also chairman of the board of North American Stainless (NAS), considered in our sector as the best and most complete stainless steel factory in the world. Its design incorporated all the experience and craftsmanship of flat products of Palmones and long products of Roldán S.A., in Ponferrada.
Acerinox should be proud of reaching 50 years –without any subsidies or reconversion or merger processes, and even though there were companies that wanted to absorb it– under circumstances that were adverse for steelmaking. For example, Spain’s entry into the European Community at the start of the company’s activity, when it had to compete with manufacturers who already had long experience and were established in their markets for years, as well as the petroleum crisis or, in the 21st century, the great financial crisis of 2008.
All this was achieved through the work and will of the members of the workforce, most of whom have had no other job than with Acerinox. At present, some of you occupy key positions: Bernardo Velázquez, CEO of the Group; Antonio Moreno, director of Acerinox Europa; Cristóbal Fuentes, chairman of NAS, and Miguel Ferrandis, financial director.
In benefit of everyone, I hope the pandemic will soon be over and the world economy will recover, and that you will work closely with the company so that it can prosper and maintain its independence for another 50 years. And on a personal level, I wish all the best to you and your families.
Victoriano Muñoz Cava
Honorary Chairman of Acerinox