In Memory of Sergio Gallo

Professor Sergio Gallo, undisputed world authority in the field of aluminium, passed away in May; he combined his tireless commitment in the research and development of new processes and applications of the light metal with outstanding managerial and strategic capabilities shown during his presidency of Teksid

On May 30th, Professor Sergio Gallo, undisputed world authority in the field of aluminium and a leading player in the development of new processes and applications of the light metal since the early ‘60s of the last century, passed away. As associate professor of Metallurgy since 1960 at the Turin Polytechnic, where he graduated in Industrial Chemistry in 1945, Sergio Gallo always played an active role in the international scientific and metallurgical community and trained generations of metallurgists and researchers who subsequently garnered success in Italy and abroad. Editor-in-chief of Metallurgia Italiana magazine from 1975 to 1994 and founder of the “Metallurgical Science and Technology” publication, which he directed until 1982, Sergio Gallo was a technologist with brilliant intuitions, but he also proved to possess very refined managerial and strategic skills when, in 1987, he was appointed chairman and later honorary president of Teksid, a position he held until 2005. In Teksid, Professor Gallo succeeded in introducing the most modern technologies able to maintain an advantage over the best competitors and was one of the supporters of the opening of the plant in Verrés (Aosta) of the Canadian company Meridian (September 1995), where Teksid had acquired a capital share to add magnesium technology to cast iron and aluminium know-how in foundries within the Fiat group.

Sergio Gallo and Claudio Mus at Teksid Aluminum
Sergio Gallo and Claudio Mus at Teksid Aluminum

Sergio Gallo’s personal and professional qualities left an unforgettable impression on all those who worked with him, as evidenced by the words of Claudio Mus, Technical – R&D Director of Endurance Overseas, and Riccardo Ferrario, General Manager of Idra, two of the “Gallo boys” in Gallo’s team at Teksid.

The Gallo Boys

I am among those who have had the privilege of meeting Professor Sergio Gallo. A privilege shared with many belonging to my generation. After years and with the different paths that life has reserved for us, we still call ourselves “Gallo boys”. An affectionate and friendly term which unites us and reminds us all of the Teksid team. More than that: the Teksid “family”.
That’s right. Having Professor Gallo, Sergio, in the team has always meant being able to count on a captain, a president, an honorary president but, above all, a reference person always ready to listen, share, decide, support and realize big and small projects of the great Teksid family.
Born and developed thanks to his intuition, expertise and determination which, combined with an unlimited curiosity, led the team- pioneers in the FIAT group – to take part in important overseas missions. The Gallo boys, born and raised professionally under his guidance, thus went on to conquer the world, when Italian metallurgy was still playing on its home turf and aluminium foundry was a topic dealt with by aeronautical textbooks. Without ever forgetting the sectors that saw him concretely innovate foundry products and processes (the medical industry and the first precision casting heart valves, aeronautics and aluminium and magnesium gearboxes), the automobile and its volumes was the one to refer to for the challenges of tomorrow. And then that ambitious dream of converting cylinder heads to aluminium gave way only to that of becoming an expert gem-cutter: both became reality!
Sergio was far-sighted, he always was!

Sergio Gallo and Claudio Mus at the inauguration of the Meridian facility in Verrés (1995)
Sergio Gallo and Claudio Mus at the inauguration of the Meridian facility in Verrés (1995)

But what was fascinating for him was to go far.

To do so, he knew how to tell stories, to draw close, to involve all those he would then accompany along the way to get them on the field motivated, full of enthusiasm and, why not, full of that justified Piedmontese pride, which I chimed in with, coming from the small Valle d’Aosta.
If the team had to play abroad, Sergio was always close to us!

Social networks? Oh, please!

The humanity of one who never failed to get close to the casting bench operator, the core shooter, the automatic die casting cell (at first, aluminium, then magnesium) with humility and curiosity. The humanity of one who grew up knowing how much a handshake at the beginning of a day’s work is worth, a sacrifice to learn more by doing, a sincere word together, a thought for one’s family. Without such a gesture, his days of work were meaningless. If a personal visit to all the Teksid plants (now 19 in the world, from the United States to China via Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Argentina, France, Portugal) was no longer possible with the frequency he needed to make sense of his working days, there was always a phone call, a letter, a thought for each one of us. I would leave to other occasions the endless list of goals reached thanks to his guidance, of international acknowledgements for his expertise, of initiatives in favour of training and metallurgical culture institutes.
I would like instead to remember the enthusiasm with which, already as honorary president of Teksid, he worked on the field with the innovation team he strongly supported.

Sergio “took service” every morning in Borgaretto to be at the side of a group of young new recruits who, after casting aluminium bases, analyzed them to see if “that withdrawal which ruined our lot yesterday” had disappeared, or at least improved a bit with hot isostatic pressing.
In the environment illuminated by the light that returned the verdict of the RX plates, he read in our eyes the enthusiasm he had transmitted to us to reap a success or, often, the positive energy to try again tomorrow. He then enjoyed taking leave by saying: “Guys, this is it: the metal bug is at work! Don’t worry, it will accompany you too, like me, for many years”.
The years passed and here we are, remembering his words at the end of the day, wearing the beret that accompanied him in the cold seasons.

For all the Gallo boys: Claudio Mus

Sergio Gallo and the Teksid Family

I met Professor Gallo back in 1983, when I joined the great Teksid family. I was a young boy, entering the world of the great metallurgical industry, thrown into production after a short period of training in Quality. I was immediately surprised by his human qualities and enormous technical and scientific expertise. I don’t know what he saw in me, but I immediately saw my tutor, the person for whom I was going to work shifts and travel abroad, eager to learn everything possible about light alloys.
He immediately assigned me to a mission at Ford, Canada, to teach them how to make light alloy cylinder heads. I, who still had to learn everything. “Don’t worry,” he said, “you’ll learn from Giovanni during the night shift and teach the Canadians during the day, but be sure to write down the procedures just like the engineer you are”.
I have always felt deeply attached to Sergio, a man who made me love a profession, the foundry, in which all scientific disciplines but also personal experience find their place.
He mixed, as a good chemist, science and intuition, leading us with his humanity and far-sighted vision through years of incredible successes and innovative developments.

I immediately became a Gallo Boy, and I still am today.

I miss Sergio, with his wit, his optimism and serenity, his example in work, and his determination not to give up in the face of some experimental failure. The countless awards received by all the industrial associations in the sector testify to the person and his recognized metallurgical skills, but I like to remember him always ready in the workshop and in the laboratory alongside his boys, those who put his “revolutionary” ideas into practice. One day he called us to the workshop to announce the acquisition of the first mega order of cylinder heads for GM, 10,000 per day, produced in Carmagnola. “This is the good news. The not-so-good news is that you can’t repair them with welding or impregnation”. In those years, we were welding and impregnating brilliantly. We were forced to review the entire production process to eliminate the defects which the professor hated so much, porosity and oxides. But what a satisfaction to see him then satisfied with our work! As a good Gallo boy I learnt that things are not complicated, they just need to be understood, and if you know how to explain them, it means you’ve made it. He introduced us to extraordinary aluminium applications, not only in the automotive sector, but also in the medical and aerospace sectors, then magnesium, his great passion, which I shared in my experience at Meridian.
I miss the Professor. He would have been proud of what his Gallo boys continued to do, and he would have always kept us moving up the bar to jump higher.

And we would have jumped.

Goodbye, Great Sergio.

Riccardo Ferrario