Introducing Brian E Shannon

In this column, I want to profile Brian E Shannon, defining his origins and history as an owner and CEO of several NDT service companies. It serves to illustrate how a vendor can provide NDT services in the USA and world markets and is also an example of the need for versatility through the challenges he has faced during the period of COVID-19.

Brian Shannon was born in Enniskillen, in the Lakelands of Northern Ireland. He began his career in NDE and engineering in a pressure vessel manufacturing shop in Belfast. After graduating, he moved to the Harland and Wolff shipyard, famous for the construction of the ill-fated Britannia, during a busy period of oil tanker construction. In the mid-1970s, he began his international energy sector career with various contracts in Canada, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The focus was on high-pressure systems and the related NDE activities in the power generation and oil & gas sectors.

In 1979, Brian moved to the USA to work with a large engineering company that was heavily involved in the construction of nuclear power facilities across the country. It was in this sector that Brian was first exposed (no pun intended here) to the advanced NDE applications that were just coming into vogue known as ‘P-scan’.

By the mid-1980s, the nuclear plant construction business was in decline due to safety incidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. So, Brian moved to Los Angeles to accept a position as an Applications Engineer on the West Coast of the USA. It was at this point that he teamed up with me at Ronald Nisbet Associates and contributed to the growth and development of my company.

In 1988, he formed IESCO, with the intent of developing an advanced NDE services business with both a USA and international client base. By utilising the application of new techniques (for the time) such as time-of-flight diffraction (TOFD), alternating current field measurement (ACFM), automated scanning, etc, he was able to build a business that focused on providing advanced NDE services to clients in 47 countries around the globe. He developed unique NDT processes for assessing damage in the ammonia production industry with the assistance of a professional team of technicians and engineers.

After I sold my own company, I went back to work with Brian as a Quality Engineer, ASNT Level III and Quality Assurance Manager. I continued to work with Brian for many years after he had sold IESCO and then developed his present company, HSI Group Inc. Brian was the prime mover behind the creation of the North American Branch of BINDT and is currently the Chair.

Today, Brian continues to build his business from its base in California, continuing to work in Europe, Asia, Alaska and throughout the Americas. With the coming of the recent pandemic, he had one major objective: to have a business at the end of the ordeal. The early onset of COVID-19 saw a large reduction in staff and client demand. Foreign travel was almost non-existent and early NDT teams were often quarantined and detained overseas.

Brian provided the following comments about the current conditions: “It is not just the COVID virus that has changed the world, but the advent of worldwide geo-political struggles, the beginning of the end of globalisation, the curtailment of personal freedoms and the uncloaking of the hypocrisy and greed of politicians and their insatiable quest for more and more power. The past 50 years have been very good to the West, but the prediction for the next fifty will require a strong commitment to small government, the principles of freedom, hard work and being willing to stand up against the tyranny of those who would enslave us. The seduction of free stuff undermines basic human values. Remember, if someone offers you something for nothing, then that is exactly what it is worth: ‘Nothing’.”

My most recent stint working with Brian ended when COVID hit in March 2020 and he had to reduce his service employees and staff. We continue to work together in the North American Branch of BINDT and maintain our long friendship.

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