by Andrew Poole and Ian McCrystal, First Cut
The management and staff of First Cut, together with local and international colleagues, mourn the loss of First Cut’s sales director Gary Willis, who passed away on Thursday evening 1 April, at the age of 51. Gary fought an 18-month battle with cancer very bravely, remaining resolutely positive until the end.
Since starting work in his late father's tungsten carbide tool tip business in 1990, Gary garnered a wealth of experience in the industrial tool sector, in the supply of cutting consumables and, latterly, in the retailing of do-it-yourself (DIY) tools.
Gary had a 25-year history with First Cut, with some 15 years in a senior management position, culminating in his position as sales director, heading up the Consumables division. He took his role and contribution to the business – and the industry as a whole – extremely seriously, was highly diligent and always thought deeply about his responsibilities.
In his approach to business, Gary had a “hands-on”, practical approach which was very logical and measured, with a talent for dealing with the detail. These skills really came to the fore when implementing sales strategy. Gary’s characteristically careful and consistent approach contributed substantially to the successful management of First Cut’s Consumables division – very much the “heart” of the business.
He was also always well prepared, whether for an Exco meeting, a meeting with a customer or his weekly Friday afternoon sales meetings. When making suggestions and decisions, he always considered the well-being of his staff, his customers, and his suppliers.
He was always open – ear, heart, and mind – to the people around him, and he listened carefully, considering everyone’s viewpoints calmly and with sensitivity. He was a highly loyal manager, fighting robustly for the benefit of his team. Because of this character trait, Gary was uniformly trusted and respected by all. Gary will indeed be sorely missed by the staff and management of First Cut.
Gary leaves his wife Katy, daughter Lauren, his mother and his brother David. He was a dedicated family man, was loving and highly protective over his family; and always focused on their safety and well-being. He put the loves of his life – Katy and Lauren – first. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family during this very difficult time.
It has been an honour and privilege working with and getting to know Gary over the past 25 years. We complemented one another’s strengths and weaknesses, forming a close and cohesive partnership with much mutual synergy and benefit. He was both a colleague of the highest order and a genuine friend. We worked hard together, we laughed, we celebrated, we dug deep when necessary – but most of all we enjoyed and valued his company.
We will miss Gary deeply. May he rest in peace.
Contact First Cut, Tel 011 614-1112, www.firstcut.co.za
Ed: The management and staff of Energize extend their condolences to Gary's family and colleagues.