Grant Gilbert: “Never stop learning”

By Ilana Koegelenberg

After 28 years in the HVAC&R industry, qualifying in two trades and as a professional engineering technologist, Grant Gilbert’s life story is an inspirational one of dedication and perseverance. 

Grant personality web

Grant Gilbert, managing director of E.R.A.S.E.

Today, Grant Mark Gilbert is the managing director of Electrical Refrigeration Air-conditioning System Engineers (E.R.A.S.E). But his journey started almost three decades ago as an apprentice …

Getting started

In 1990, Gilbert started at Improvair as an apprentice, passing his refrigeration mechanic (industrial) trade test in 1993. He then joined the Old Mutual HVAC&R department as an in-house HVAC technician.

He used his holidays and spare time to work and study as an electrician, believing that increased electrical knowledge would be beneficial for his HVAC&R career. Also, about this time, Gilbert started studying additional subjects and took courses with the long-term dream of qualifying as an HVAC mechanical engineer.

In 1998, he did his electrical trade test and qualified as an electrician, later passing his “wireman’s licence” exams, qualifying him as an electrical inspector. He then left Old Mutual to start E.R.A.S.E.


At E.R.A.S.E, Gilbert and his team have handled a massive amount of varied HVAC projects over the past 20 years; everything from designing and installing systems for large office block buildings, working on the mines, and oil rig refurbishments, to specialised marine work and major data room installations for companies like Sanlam and PEP head offices.

Training matters

In 2009, Gilbert was approached by a French university to train one of their engineering students in need of practical, day-to-day HVAC engineering experience. “My training programme was very successful and opened a floodgate of international students seeking to do their engineering internships with E.R.A.S.E,” he explains. Since then he has trained a large number of engineers — mostly from Europe and some from as far away as Australia and Columbia even.

After years of training young engineering interns and continually increasing his own engineering education and qualifications, Gilbert finally reached enough certificates and credits to approach the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) for his own professional registration. (He boasts over 30 course qualifications to date.)

ECSA registration is not easy to achieve but after a huge amount of effort and a mentorship under the watchful eye of professional engineer Erik Kiderlen, he finally managed to qualify as an ECSA registered Professional Engineering Technologist in 2017.

“I believe education is the key to a better life for all,” says Gilbert. That is why he is actively trying to make a positive difference in the country by offering jobs with free education and training for both apprentices and young engineers from the local community.

Gilbert has been a member of the South African Institute of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (SAIRAC) for 23 years. In July this year, he was nominated to join the Cape Town SAIRAC committee to assist with education and has accepted the position.

For the love of the job

So, why this industry? Gilbert likes the variety it offers and also enjoys the almost “magical allure” of working with the principles of air and thermodynamics. “I am also passionate about setting high standards in indoor air quality and the positive effects of implementing the correct methods to improve the standard of living, working environments, and general health.”

Click here to read the October 2018 issue of RACA Journal


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