Deryck Spence, 79, who retired as executive director of the SA Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA) in 2020 after having led SAPMA for 11 important years, has passed away at his Southbroom residence on September 29 after suffering a heart attack.

Spence’s influence on the SA coatings sector has been widely described as immense and his heroic efforts in campaigning for the industry at top government and all other levels played a major role at many critical times in the coatings and ancillary chemicals industry. One of his final achievements was leading SAPMA’s appeals to the government to allow retailers to sell paints during the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Praise for Spence’s role in the growth of SAPMA and the development of the coatings sector has poured in.

Sanjeev Bhatt, chairperson of SAPMA, said:

“Deryck was a fighter who steered SAPMA to heights where it is now a formidable body globally and a respected member of the World Coatings Council. His passion for SAPMA was infectious and –  despite a long corporate career as a top executive at Burmah Castrol – nevertheless understood the importance of small- and medium-sized manufacturers to SAPMA.  Today SAPMA represents over 85% of paint manufacturers and associate industries in the country.

“Deryck, who still served after retirement as a non-executive director of SAPMA, leaves a legacy of success. We were fortunate that he was around to guide the coatings industry through difficult and challenging times. His passing is deeply mourned by an entire industry.”

Aggie Argyrou, former SAPMA chairperson, said:

“SAPMA changed dramatically once Deryck was appointed as our association’s leader. He worked tirelessly on the relationships with the coatings, suppliers and contracting members and vastly improved communications with members. He not only revived an association that was floundering but rejuvenated and gave the coatings industry a voice and economic recognition. He used all his vast corporate experience of dealing with officialdom at top level to SAPMA’s advantage and raised membership significantly while – importantly – bringing into the fold the smaller players who collectively now also have unified strength as members of SAPMA.

“SAPMA exists today because of Deryck’s perseverance and passion. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and respected him.”

Tara Benn, current executive director of SAPMA, who was trained for succession by Spence, said:

“Deryck selflessly assisted me during the transition period despite the challenges of 2020, Covid-19 and its restrictions.  He will be sorely missed by the entire coatings sector.  His perseverance, passion and continuous dedication to the sector were almost an obsession.”

Spence’s first major career was in cruise lines when he became a purser on Union Castle Lines in the 1960s. On returning to South Africa in 1964, he joined the Burmah-Castrol Group as a sales representative and rose steadily through the ranks to become MD of the South African company in 1986. In 1992, he was promoted and transferred to the UK where he took up the position as European Director for a Burmah-Castrol group company, Foseco Plc. After four years in Europe, he returned to South Africa and started a management consultancy business and in 2000 entered the paint sector when he acquired a share in SAPMA member, Promac Paints, prior to his appointment in 2009 as executive director of SAPMA.

He married his widow, Alison, in 1966 and also leaves two daughters and three grandchildren.

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