Meeting Minutes - Gunter Thase: Gunter's Career in the Global Metals Industry- Nov. 29th. 2018
President Martin Alderwick opened the meeting at 9:55 am with 39 members in attendance. After a welcome to all present he acknowledged Ken Marchant for his contribution to the show put on the previous week at the Village-on-the-Arboretum. President Alderwick went on to address the need for the membership to undertake to do a membership recruiting drive to augment the membership. He said the Club is currently running an announcement in the Guelph Mercury Tribune about our bi-weekly meetings hoping to spur interest in men coming out to experience the Club’s speakers.
Announcements Activities – Ray Biffis - Christmas Luncheon is next Thursday at Victoria Golf Course Clubhouse with 44 people currently signed up. - Guelph Art Gallery visit is scheduled for Wed., January 30, 2019 @ 10:00 am. This will be a private viewing, closed except for us. Spouses are invited to attend. - Valentine’s Day Dinner is schedule at Ben Thanh Restaurant on Woodlawn Rd. for $20 per person with a maximum of 38 people.
Coffee Gathering – Martin Alderwick - For those not going to the Christmas Luncheon the Boathouse is still open next week.
Julian Sale was called upon to introduce today’s guest speaker, one of our own members, Gunter Thase who will speak on his career in Metals and Mineral Trade.
Bio: Gunter Thase was born in the port city of Bremen Germany in April 1939. After his logistic training he was drafted and entered the Military Academy in 1959. After leaving the army as a commissioned officer in the reserves he was asked by his employer to gain international experience in Canada. He joined The British Metal Corporation’s Toronto office in 1963. The London based group - the founders of the London Metal Exchange - trade in Metal and Minerals and have production facilities worldwide. He retired in 2004 as General Manager of the head office, President of several Canadian Group Divisions and Director of the Canadian Holding company. He earned certificates from the Toronto Board of Trade in Export Marketing and Ryerson in Marketing Management. He is a member of the National Club of Toronto and a Rotarian for 33 years. Gunter is married to Ursula for 53 years. They have a daughter and son and enjoy their 2 grandchildren. Gunter has a Black Belt in Karate and likes to spend time walking and sailing especially at their cottage near Dorset.
Gunter began his presentation by posing several questions about problems he had had to resolve during his career in metals and mineral trade. He then went on to answer some of the complex problems he resolved such as dealing with massive shipments of minerals and ores that were shipped around the world. This was highlighted to show that sourcing, marketing logistics, banking and insurance were important aspects of the metals and minerals trade.
Gunter said his career began after growing up in war torn Germany and ultimately being transferred to the Canadian branch of his company, Domar, as a member of a multinational metals and minerals organization. They had offices all around the world.
He spoke about managing and becoming an international trading success with a lot of support from his wife due to his heavy amount of travelling throughout the world. He travelled extensively to UK, Japan, China, Hong Cong, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, and New Zealand. It was an around-the-clock obligation dealing with time zones throughout the world.
Gunter said he was so thankful for the generosity and help he received when he first came to Canada and this was a critical influence on him. He had to learn the language very quickly.
Gunter spent a lot of time dealing with the magnesium desk of Dominion Magnesium of Ontario, known as Domar in the trade and they had invented the Pidgeon Process which is one of the methods of magnesium metal production. They were interested in achieving international market penetration and they managed to get into the markets in Germany, Argentina, Australia, Taiwan, China, Japan and many other destinations. Soon they developed alloys using magnesium and aluminum for light weight tools. These efforts in international markets lead to other opportunities .
Eventually one of the aluminum companies contacted Gunter and informed him that they had decided to build their own plant and they were concerned that the existing suppliers would cut into their market so they wanted Gunter to come and work for them at their headquarters. The objective was to establish a two-year supply of magnesium. He accomplished this by storing the metal in many different warehouses worldwide. Since the quantities that were being purchased were small the market was unware of what was happening.
As time went on Domar decided to reduce their output due to cost increases. Today most of the magnesium output has shifted to China where the Pidgeon Process is used.
Gunter elaborated on numerous metal exchanges that he transacted in various parts of the world by establishing local and overseas suppliers. To accomplish this he arranged many different warehouses throughout the world.
Critical to the company’s success was that they were already in touch with major consumers such as the aerospace industry which required large quantities of metals such as aluminum. They had developed "Just in time" delivery to ensure smooth processing. Their working relationship with consumers allowed them to identify needs and purchasing agents often asked for Gunter’s help. One such need was in the fiber optics industry which started in the early 1980’s.
Contamination was a concern to many consumers and Gunter was able see that the metals and minerals that were shipped by his company met the needs of these consumers. Gunter traveled all over the world to meet consumers and buyers in order to develop mutual trust. He did this by being proactive and fiscally responsible with emphasis on the total quality concept. Each country has a different culture and therefore requires respect for their language, history and politics as well as understand the culture of the target company. He had to anticipate problems before they occurred. Preparation was absolutely essential.
In closing Gunter said persistent commitment to meeting client requirements in every respect by adhering to quality systems combined with personal face to face discussions has been the secret to his success as a metal and industrial Mineral Merchant.
Gunter responded to a Q&A following his presentation.
Julian Sale thanked Gunter for his presentation.
Martin closed off the meeting by reminding everyone that next week is our Christmas Luncheon.
In two weeks ,Thurs. Dec. 13th, will be our last membership meeting of the year for 2018. Guest speaker will be Steven Pinker - Is the World Getting Better or Worse?
The first meeting in January will be Thurs. January 10th, 2019.