John Emholz, the President and global CEO of German company Messer Cutting Systems, visited First Cut, a leading South African provider of cutting, welding and grinding consumables and equipment recently. The meeting consolidated the existing relationship between the two firms and discussed strategic new possibilities.
In 2019, First Cut concluded an agreement with Messer Cutting Systems, which is a global supplier of cutting solutions for the metalworking industry, to take over the existing South African distribution agency.
Emholz was joined by Martin Zeller, the divisional manager for sales, and Axel Vogelsang the area sales manager of the Oxyfuel business unit. Zeller is the main point of contact for First Cut and its customers regarding Oxyfuel sales and service.
Emholz explains: “The focus of this visit was largely at a strategic level: to understand how to bring in our cutting systems expertise and look at opportunities that we believed could be leveraged, including discussing market leads with First Cut for both the oxyfuel as well as the equipment side of our business.
We believe that we have a viable opportunity to leverage some of the South African market developments on a global basis. We have a strong commitment to this market, and certainly this visit has clarified and strengthened our understanding of the significant long-term market potential in the South African market.”
Andrew Poole, the managing director of First Cut adds: “Messer Cutting System’s participation in our local distribution and sales strategy development has really been demonstrated by John Emholz as its President and global CEO – visiting in person.
This shows an invaluable and highly-appreciated long-term commitment on their part. Messer Cutting Systems is a large, global organisation which has given us great flexibility in the local distribution of their products. They have also been willing to share their expert technology and knowledge. We have sincerely appreciated the cooperation and openness with which they have approached their agreement with us, and our business. Having held joint discussions on how to position ourselves in the South African market, we have some very exciting new directions unfolding. In this regard, our safety offering has been very important.”
Safety is of paramount importance in First Cut’s key target cutting and welding market sectors, as reflected by its recent merger of interests – in November 2021 – with respected industry stalwart Gas Safety International (GSI), which provides certified gas safety training and quality gas equipment to a wide range of sectors, to ensure a safe and efficient working environment.
This relationship has strengthened First Cut’s service offering, particularly the highly respected training experience and expertise offered by GSI’s managing director Peter Rohlssen, with regards to gas safety training, consulting and auditing.
“This holistic safety offering, and the passion and experience demonstrated by First Cut and GSI, is very attractive,” observes Zeller. “This immediately inspired us upon our arrival, and it has only added to the overall relationship of trust which Messer Cutting Systems and First Cut share.”
Another key First Cut relationship involves its agreement with the Bolt and Engineering Distributors (B.E.D.) Group, whereby First Cut is a primary distributor to the fabrication and other sectors; while B.E.D. focuses on the mining industry, where they are well-established.
“We truly appreciate these initiatives which First Cut has engaged in, and how they work to strengthen the overall market offering and distribution of our products in South Africa,” Emholz enthuses. “GSI’s safety knowledge, together with First Cut and Messer Cutting System’s own expertise, has resulted in the development of a trio of new products. We are very pleased to play our part in this collaboration, which will be rolled out globally, yet with a ‘proudly South African’ flavour. This is indeed an illustration of the seriousness with which both First Cut as well as Messer Cutting Systems have approached this relationship.”
Zeller adds: “We are very enthusiastic about the features and potential uptake of these new products in the market. This demonstrates that First Cut and B.E.D. are truly value-adding partners, helping us to find solutions for the mining and industrial sectors.”
“We are very excited about the development of these new products for the mining and industrial sector,” notes Poole. “This is a pivotal development for Messer Cutting Systems and First Cut: one which speaks to connection, cohesion and deep mutual trust. We are honoured to play our part in developing innovative new solutions for industry.”
“Having seen the opportunities here in South Africa, Messer Cutting Systems is very keen to promote our footprint and traction accordingly. Furthermore, the excellent, value-adding collaboration between Messer, First Cut and its partners is also a significant opportunity for us to learn from the local market.
Additionally, the global distribution of the three new products we have jointly developed will result in further strengthening our position as a leading international welding equipment and consumables supplier of choice,” concludes Emholz.