DETROIT, MI, April 15 , 2016 – It was a chance meeting at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2014… but it gave direction to Francois Wolmarans’s career. The oysters came later.
Having relocated from his native South Africa to Florida with his family in 2003, Wolmarans was already quite accomplished. A Florida State University student, he’d created and sold automation scripts for an online game, and then founded a Beijing-based business to facilitate exchanges between the U.S. and China.
But it was at that year’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas, held in Houston, that he made a valuable connection.
“I was at the event, which is a global series that challenges future engineers and scientists to go ever farther on less energy, and Linde was a sponsor,” recalls Wolmarans, who attended the 2014 competition as a member of an energy-efficient, solar vehicle design team. “I happened to speak with someone from the company, and shared my resume. She gave me her business card, and it took off from there.”
Held annually in the U.S, Europe, and Asia, the Shell Eco-marathon is a unique competition that challenges high school and college student teams from around the world to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient vehicles. For 2016 – the sixth consecutive year of Linde’s participation in the series – the event will be held in Detroit, from April 22-24. The Linde Group is supporting the competition as a global partner by supplying hydrogen to participating fuel cell-powered vehicles.
For Wolmarans, the event was truly a springboard – today, he’s a project manager for the Bulk Applications Group of Linde North America, a leading industrial gases and engineering company. His primary role is installation of contracted solutions, a responsibility he considers simultaneously demanding and enjoyable. And with mountain climbing as a hobby ─ he has successfully scaled Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro and Hua Shan, one of China’s Holy Mountains ─ he’s undaunted by demanding tasks.
The first position at Linde for Wolmarans, who speaks English, Afrikaans, French, and Mandarin Chinese, was as an application sales engineer in the Food and Beverages group. During an eight-month period, he visited 23 different states to meet with existing and potential clients, doing research and development, resolving issues, and selling solutions.
It was then he encountered the oysters.
“I sold a tunnel freezer to a Mississippi seafood company that freezes and ship oysters,” Wolmarans notes. “We developed a solution that kills a particularly virulent strain of bacteria found in oysters. Getting that first sale … man, I was super excited.”
It was his very first sale on behalf of Linde ─ an organization he speaks about in glowing terms.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and Linde has really fostered it,” Wolmarans says. “I’m given the autonomy to be proactive, submit ideas, and take the lead. Now, several ideas I had for the technological team are under consideration. That’s pretty rewarding.”
A photo of Wolmarans is available at: http://elements.linde.com/the-pathfinder/
About Linde LLC in North America
Linde LLC is a member of The Linde Group. In the 2015 financial year, The Linde Group generated revenue of USD 19.7 bn ( EUR 17.944 bn) , making it one of the leading gases and engineering companies in the world, with approximately 65,000 employees working in more than 100 countries worldwide. The strategy of The Linde Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society and the environment in every one of its business areas, regions and locations across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.
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