‘It’s better to teach a welder how to climb than a mountaineer how to weld’ - Ronny van Baal
Rotterdam. A busy city, action speaks. There is no place where this is demonstrated more clearly than in the area around the port. High constructions, cranes, huge storage tanks. I am on my way to DeltaSafety, the SkyDeck and Sky Access training center, to meet with CEO Ronny van Baal. His innovative products and techniques are generally considered to be revolutionary, adding great value in relation to safety in the construction and industrial maintenance industry.
On arriving I am surrounded by imposing constructions — hanging scaffolding, ropes, men and women in intense training in life-sized simulations of the complex conditions in which they must do their work. Safety is literally serious business here.
Ronny walks up to me and makes me feel welcome. We find a table and I get started straight away, hoping to find out what drives him and what more we should expect from him.
Ronny loves technology. After his technical studies, he enlists with the navy as a fireman and machinist. He enjoys the combination of technique and adventure. After a technical job with a company in the sailing yacht industry, he decides to take a chance and establish his own business. And his gamble pays off because he turns out to be an excellent businessman.
Ronny is a passionate man and has an eye for techniques that work, that improve safety and often help save money, as well. And his chosen business branch is not an accident either, since he has loved great heights ever since he was small.
“I come from a family of mountaineers — we used to go on family expeditions in the mountains from a young age. One of the main things is that you must assess risks correctly. If you don’t, even a small mistake may cost you your life.” Nature’s wildness, the challenge of conquering a mountain is addictive. And yet it also gave him a business idea. Ronny quickly understood that professionals who have to work in the most impossible places at great heights are dealing with the same principles as mountaineers while working on drilling rigs, bridges, or scaffolds.
“My main aim was always to offer a new perspective: finding solutions from a technical viewpoint.” People really never doubted the method that had been used for years — it was simply complex, costly and time-consuming. That’s the way it was.
Maybe not, was Ronny’s idea. There had to be a better way. So he started offering a solution: Sky Access. Industrial rope technology, which is faster, safer, and cost-saving as well. He turned the principle on its head. Make it easier to work at great heights safely, get the right people with the right skills where you need them. “It is wiser to teach a welder how to climb than a mountaineer how to weld.”
His method is widely accepted within a short space of time, by customers as well as the professionals themselves. The company flourishes, Ronny even won two Gazelle Awards with his business. Acknowledging his entrepreneurial spirit, and his success.
Ronny is still an ambitious man. With his new company, SkyDeck Europe BV, he has found another way to implement a huge change in the industry.
“I can’t really talk about the details now, it’s still in its infancy. If you come back in the near future, I’ll be happy to tell you more.”
I’ll keep him to that. It has become clear to me that this is a man who will never stop to smell the roses. He will always find a way to leverage his energy and knowledge to make working in this industry safer, faster, and more efficient.