It is with great sadness that I have to report on the sudden and untimely passing of Luis Filipe Duate Dias in May at the tender age of 61. Luis was one of the most well respected and liked personalities in the foundry industry, having worked in the industry for over 35 years. But more importantly he was a very proud man, a devoted husband and family man, lived a fulfilled life with the motto of the first to give and the last to take uppermost in his mind, and was happiest when he had the opportunity to babysit and entertain his two grandchildren Cassandra and Veronique.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal on the 10th October1952 to the late Manuel and Beatriz, Luis landed in Africa for the first time at the age of four when his father decided to leave Portugal and seek better pastures in Beira, the second largest city in Mozambique. The family compliment was increased by two with the birth of sister Lena and brother Rui, during the family’s nine year period in Beira before ‘Vovo’ decided to move to South Africa and take up a position with Everite in Klipriver south of Johannesburg. This was where Luis would later meet his wife Rosemary and marry in November 1974.
Luis completed his schooling at General Smuts High School, Vereeniging, a remarkable achievement in that he could not speak English or Afrikaans when he arrived in South Africa and was assigned to the immigrant class.
After finishing school Luis continued his studies and completed his draughting diploma through Wits Technikon. His first position in industry was in the draughting office at Barnes-Birlec. Thereafter he took up a position as Production Manager at Boart International before venturing out on his own.
Luis was also a keen sailor for a period in his life and he excelled at roller hockey.
Luis had been a member of the South African Institute of Foundrymen (SAIF) since the 1980s and was voted in as a council member of the SAIF in the mid 1990s, a position he dedicated many hours of his time to. He was first elected Vice President in 2009/2010 and then served as the SAIF President for two years – 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 – a position he held with distinction.
A devoted husband, son, father, brother, grandfather, uncle and in-law, Luis was known as the ‘godfather’ to the family – “always in control and sorting everything for all of us and no task was too great for him,” as his daughter Sylvia said.
The same could be said about Luis’ career in the foundry industry, having built up a reputation for going out of his way to make time and come up with a solution for anybody that phoned, visited or presented a problem. Luis was extremely committed to the foundry industry and gave up many a spare hour for the cause of the industry.
In 1984 Luis established design and details company Endeco, an acronym for Engineering Design Company. “30 years is a milestone in the history of most companies but it is even more so when you are in the business of design, manufacture and installation of foundry equipment in South Africa. The fact that Endeco achieved this milestone says something about the tenacity of the company,” said Luis earlier this year before his passing.
The first major breakthrough for the company came in 1987 when Luis was contracted to design, supply and install a turnkey project for Rely Precision Castings. This included a reclamation plant, silos, a monorail system and spincasting equipment.
In the same year Luis was engaged by Scaw Metals to design, manufacture and install that company’s first grinding media high chrome ball casting plant. This was subsequently followed up with a second order for an exact replica, in 1992.
Over the years, under Luis’ leadership, the company has been involved in most major foundry projects in South Africa, either as turnkey projects, equipment manufacturers and suppliers or as designers and project managers. The company has steadily increased its market share in the South African foundry industry.
“The development of locally designed and tested equipment, and the policy of continually introducing new equipment, has enabled the company to remain in the forefront of the industry and essentially assist foundries in import replacement. An added benefit today for foundries is that Endeco are also prepared to handle all the civil engineering aspect that is involved in installing equipment,” said Luis in the same interview.
Initially Endeco outsourced all the fabrication work but since the purchase of their own premises in Alberton 20 years ago, all the manufacturing has been done in-house.
One of Endeco’s largest projects to date was the Eclipse Foundries East Plant green sand high pressure moulding plant installed in 1999. This project was a turnkey project, which included the design, manufacture, supply and installation, as well as the full management of the project.
The legacy that Luis built is reinforced in the words of brother Rui, who joined the company in 1994 and Victor, Luis’ son, who joined 17 years ago.
“Luis we promise to make the business you started more than 30 years ago, which you were so proud and passionate about, and of which we have shared with you, flourish and grow in honour of you. We will not let you down. We will look after your “Endeco family” with pride as you did.”
“Your passing has left a huge void, not only in our lives but in the lives of everyone that you touched and came across, and we know you will be looking down at us with that special smile of yours and will be wondering what all the fuss is about, because you know that you have left a legacy that will be continued for generations to come and that we will never let you down.”
However, many will remember the principles that Luis lived by and those are trust, honesty, sincerity, integrity and faith. Luis’ wry sense of humour is expressed in daughter Sylvia’s tribute.
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. How does one begin to acknowledge and thank the very person who gave you life and who, as stubborn as he was, gave his all to his work, his family and the foundry industry. This year when I embarked on my MBA journey my first project was to identify why. The reason is simple. I was guided by the ambition and drive of my dad, my role model, my friend. I not only wanted to make him proud but I longed to be just like him. When arguing with him about something his response was quite simple: Talk to me when your brain is as big as mine.”
“Simplicity, goodness and truthfulness – therein lays greatness. He added so much to others lives and expected so little in return. He was a humble man,” added brother Rui.
Rest in peace Luis. We will all miss you, especially your cheerful greeting of Comrade President. His lifetime of dedication and self-sacrifice serve as a monument to the exemplary man he was. His humility, integrity, and hard work continue to inspire those who knew him.