FACTOR was founded in 1982 with a team of 10 people. One of them was Santiago Merino, who retires today May 4, 2023 after 41 years of dedication in the development of the operations area of this company.
Santiago is a skilled, ingenious and problem-solving man, who went from performing off-machine operations or second operations, to being responsible for Health and Safety and taking responsibility for the assembly of components. We talked to him about his experiences in the company and this is what he told us.
Your early beginnings and those of FACTOR took place in parallel, how do you remember them?
I remember it as an act of courage. Initially we were a group of 10 people, a bit crazy but determined to face the challenge of building a company. We put a lot of teamwork and perseverance into it, we all did our best to move forward with the works that came in. In conclusion, the first years were a great adventure, which turned into a solid company.
Santiago Merino outside Factor's facilities in 1982.
Can you briefly review your professional history?
In short: work, work and work. Personally, I have always wanted to grow professionally and I have tried to take advantage of the opportunities I have had. I studied Industrial Master's Degree, which today is vocational training, and I have taken multiple training courses both inside and outside my working hours. I was trained on programming, materials, cutting tools, etc. All this helped me to take on different positions in the company: I was in the stamping area, in turning and also final processes; there was even a stage in which I was responsible for Safety at Work, where I prepared reports and ensured security in the plant. Those were the beginnings of today's OHS.
What is it like to work in a family company?
For me it has been the best! I was fortunate to be part of the team from the beginning and throughout my career I have had the confidence and support I needed. Something that has always pushed me to give my best. I am delighted to have been part of this great family at Factor.
You have lived the generational transition, how was it?
In a word: orderly. Mr. Gastaldo knew how to organize the transition from management to his children very well. The training and subsequent incorporation into management positions was carried out in a timely manner. Without rushing and ensuring that everything was under control. Today FACTOR is a company that has firmly positioned itself in a very different reality from the one we started with. And that is good news for those who live this reality today.
Has there been anyone who has influenced your professional career? In what way?
Of course. Mainly my mother. She taught me the fundamentals of training. It was because of her that I "prepared myself for professional life", studying mechanics at the School of Industrial Mastery.
Then I undertook this beautiful project guided by a great man, José Gastaldo. A person with great leadership skills, who knew how and when to say things, how to motivate and show you the way to solutions, not problems. He had a great business vision and always managed to transmit security and confidence. I am sure that if XXX Gastaldo could see today how the firm is evolving, he would be tremendously proud.
How have you managed to maintain the level of commitment to your work for so many years?
My main motivation has been and is my family. My children and their education. This is the engine that drives me, but also my own desire to excel. I have always wanted to do my best and being part of a team like FACTOR is what drives you. It's like playing on a soccer or basketball team. Everyone wants to be a starter in their position, but the team is more important. Empathizing with teammates and supporting each other in dealing with day-to-day problems is very important in building a commitment to the job.
Is there any anecdote at FACTOR that you remember with affection?
In the company we have never been one to leave anything to chance, but I remember that after going to the notary's office when the company was founded, we went out to dinner. We celebrated well, very well. And the next day we started work at 6 AM! That first day we didn't do much, but it gave us the push we needed to get to where we are today (laughs).
What have been the biggest changes you have seen in FACTOR?
The biggest changes I have experienced are those related to management methods and work organization, and to technology. Today, processes are the cornerstone of the organization, and they are always being analyzed in order to improve them. On the other hand, technology has evolved a lot, both in manufacturing and inspection.
What cultural values have you experienced at FACTOR and do you think they have been maintained over time?
I think I could summarize them as "being an honest, professional team with a vocation for customer service". And yes, I think these values have been reinforced over time.
What is the change you would like to see in the company in the future?
I would love to see Factor continue on the path of growth, absorbing more workload and bringing more value to the industry every day. I would love to see the team getting better and better trained every day and that between us all we ensure the long-term sustainability of the business.
What advice would you give to employees who are just starting out in the company?
Effort. Nothing is achieved without effort, and every effort is rewarded. The history of each person is written by each person, taking advantage of opportunities and enjoying every moment.
How do you face your new future?
The future? For me, the future is day by day.
The truth is that I don't know yet what I'm going to dedicate my time to, and that new sensation is pleasant. I really like photography, motorcycles and above all, manual work. I guess I'll move around this triangle. I'll let you know...
Santiago Merino with Hector Piza, who takes over as head of Auxiliary Operations.
The entire FACTOR team appreciates your dedication and commitment. You have always facilitated the work of your colleagues, providing definitive and ingenious solutions. We wish you a well-deserved rest, dedicating your time to what you like the most, riding motorcycles, traveling and being with your family. It has been 40 years of pleasant memories. Good luck!