THE South African Institute of Steel Construction (Saisc) bade farewell to its long-serving CEO, Hennie de Clercq, who has retired. At its annual general meeting earlier this month, the organisation set aside time to say goodbye to the 68-year-old, who served the institute for over 18 years.
To honour his contribution to the development of the structural steel industry in Africa and in the world, the American Institute of Steel Construction (Aisc) made De Clercq a lifetime honorary member. He is the twelfth person to receive this honour in the Aisc’s 44 years of existence.
De Clercq started his career as education director at Saisc in 1976. His tenure coincided with the growth of the steel industry in South Africa and in Africa. He was at the helm of Saisc when it oversaw the development of innovative ways of using steel in the building designs industry, the architecture sector and many other sectors.
A civil engineer at heart, De Clercq studied the craft at the University of Pretoria (UP) in 1968. Prior to that – after completing his matric – he had tried his hand at being a soldier, where he took an officer’s training course at the army gymnasium.
After he got his undergraduate degree, he studied for his honours degree at UP. He then went to the US for three years on an Iscor scholarship, where he got his master’s degree and a PhD from the University of California, Berkely campus.
Born and bred on a farm outside Carolina, in Mpumalanga, De Clercq describes himself as a real boer seun. In his career, he has been responsible for the writing and updating of design specifications, codes of practice and the like that are the backbone of the technical requirements for the steel construction industry. He has lectured both at university level and at industry level. He is highly regarded and respected for his opinion on anything and everything to do with the greater structural steel industry.
At the farewell, Saisc education director Spencer Erling said the extent to which De Clercq had contributed to the Southern African steel and steel construction industries was so enormous, it was impossible to describe in a few sentences. “There is no doubt that there are few individuals who have done more for any industry in this country than Hennie has done for ours. He will be sorely missed in both his professional and personal capacities.”