Allan McKinnon died peacefully on 23 March, surrounded by family and friends. McKinnon founded Allan McKinnon and Associates in Johannesburg in 1976.
Peter Vichos, Allan’s brother-in-law and business partner, looks back on Allan’s career: “When Allan married Christine, he had just left a company that manufactured a range of specialty lubricants. Upon their return from honeymoon, he and Christine started their own industrial lubricants company called Alchris Moly Products, which made the same type of specialised lubricants that he sold at his previous company.”
The business proved to be very successful, but McKinnon wanted a greater challenge and began looking into the local manufacture of television sets in South Africa, where television was still new in 1976. Being the consummate entrepreneur, he was friendly with the Canadian trade commissioner to South Africa.
At that time, Electrovert was still a Canadian company (owned by the Fodors) and they had asked the Canadian Trade Commission to find them an agent in South Africa, as they had heard that many foreign companies were going to be setting up shop there. The Trade Commissioner mentioned to McKinnon that he was looking for someone who could sell and service ‘wave solder machines’. When he heard that they were used in the assembly of electronic PCBs, and apparently a TV had several of these strange items in them, McKinnon promptly asked the trade commissioner to give him the agency.
McKinnon took on the Electrovert agency, and soon sold his first wave solder machine. When it was delivered, and the customer asked him where the solder and flux was, he did not know what the customer was talking about! The customer (who later became one of his personal friends) suggested that McKinnon visit a tradeshow overseas so he could familiarise himself with ‘the process’. So, he attended the first of many trade shows that he was to visit.
So began Allan McKinnon and Associates, to which McKinnon added such agencies as Heller Industries, Alpha Metals, Dyna Pert, Herbert Streckfuss, Plato PMP, Camalot and many more.
In 1980, McKinnon emmigrated to the United States in search of ‘the big fish’, and settled with his family in Dallas. He started in the US with the Herbert Streckfuss agency, and established an agency network throughout the US. He also founded FSI in Irving, Texas, a PCB wet process equipment manufacturer.
McKinnon was very influential to a number of the South African industry’s companies and personnel. He leaves behind a very strong legacy in the people he mentored.