The video to the right will always be an iconic moment in the history of Unique Welding. Taken at our 2019 Year-end function, it is a simple representation of the energy that flows through our company. The star of the show is Pete Caskie – Export Sales Manager at our Head Office in Boksburg.
Pete has been working at UWA for 6 years, and has been in the Export space for over 12 years. He chose to join the company because he wanted to join a forward-thinking entity, that would allow him room to grow. He is tasked with the challenging role of growing our brands into international markets, majority of which form part of Sub-Saharan Africa.
“In the beginning, developing our brand name in countries that have never heard of us was often my biggest challenge,” says Pete. “I basically had to start from scratch with every border that I crossed.” Coupling that with the many unknown competitors in these international markets, Pete had his work cut out for him. But more than half-a-decade later, Pete has grown from strength-to-strength and is breaking new ground on a monthly basis. “Aside from the incredibly high-quality, affordable products that we provide, Unique Welding’s excellent service team, and after-sales support definitely helps in sealing deals,” Pete remarks. “And I think that the flexibility that we have in decision-making, over our more stringent competitors, definitely gives us an edge.”
The many travels that Pete has embarked on has given him many colourful stories to tell – from rats crawling in conduit during breakfast in Nigeria, to being pulled over for holding a cell phone while driving in Zambia, to a near-arrest in Uganda for smoking in public (which, in fact, was not even an established law in the country). “Fortunately, I stopped smoking so there is no longer a risk of that re-occurring!” he jokes.
Pete’s favourite thing about his job is spending time with his vast and varied array of clients. “Some of my clients treat me like a part of their family when I visit. I have built many friendships over the years.” Pete also loves exploring the different parts of our beautiful continent.
Staying still is clearly not one of Pete’s strengths. When he is home in South Africa, he busies himself with running. And not just any running – marathon running. Pete has completed 5 Comrades Marathons since 2006,
with his most recent one being last year – 2019. His best time was an incredible 10 hours 34 minutes in one of the up runs (which is infamously more difficult than the down-run).
“I enjoy running because all I need is a pair of running shoes – especially while travelling,” says Pete. “It’s also a great stress-reliever, and the best way to ensure you start your day with a positive outlook.” Training out in Africa isn’t for the faint-hearted. While abroad, Pete has to squeeze his runs in after appointments and during the day, because early mornings are dark, and there are often very few streetlights to light his way.
Pete’s character is that of determination, and that is reflected in his reason for starting running. “I started running because I wanted to challenge myself to successfully complete a Comrades Marathon,” he says. “I don’t have a running physique, so I wanted to prove to myself that it was possible.” Pete wakes up at 4am every morning, and is on the road by 4:30am – now that is what we like to call GEES!!
So, what does working at Unique Welding and the Comrades Marathon have in common? Pete likens working at Unique Welding to training and completing a marathon. Working towards a goal takes time,” he says. “You put the hard work in for what feels like a very long time, but if you have the right plan, success is probable.” Pete explains that breaking new ground with a foreign customer takes a few attempts. But once you have the first order, the effort to obtain successive orders is much less.
Pete was lucky to encounter many mentors along his road, both in terms of work and in terms of running. He is grateful to the team of managers at Unique Welding for teaching him a lot about the technical aspect of our products, while his brother-in-law, who has completed three 100-milers, is his running mentor.
Looking at the future, Pete has a whole lot of optimism for Unique Welding. “We are a strong company, and we are growing stronger with each passing year,” he says. “We have fantastic people, and we are beginning to establish our brands in a more prominent light.” Pete has particularly powerful intentions for our Thermamax brand. “I would like to establish Thermamax as a brand to be reckoned with in Africa,” he says. “Overall, my long-term goal is to lead a bigger export department, and grow our sales exponentially.”
For those of you living in countries other than South Africa – keep a look-out.
Pete is coming for you!