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Balancing quality and affordability for customer value

Home Metals Cutting & Welding Balancing quality and affordability for customer value

FOR many companies throughout industry, a tough economic climate in recent years has inevitably meant tightening their belts and looking for more cost-effective products and services.

This is why First Cut – a leading distributor of cutting, welding and grinding consumables and equipment – has met halfway with suppliers to ensure that cost-effective products are not inferior products.

“With the current market pressures in South Africa, we know that customers are looking for affordability, while still wanting quality,” says Zelda Vorster (pictured), First Cut’s commercial director.

“Therefore, we have negotiated with our suppliers to ensure that the products we distribute are affordable – but at the same time, we are ensuring our customers get the best of both worlds by selling well-priced products that do not compromise on quality.”

A proudly local, quality product

Looking at First Cut’s extensive product portfolio – including a range of locally manufactured blades – the Messer welding electrode range is a good example of a ‘proudly local’ product.

These popular, high-quality electrodes can be used for every application and material, from galvanised steel to stainless and even so-called ‘problem’ steels. Furthermore, as this is locally produced, First Cut has been able to control stock levels. There are also no import taxes and freight costs, with a knock-on pricing benefit accordingly.

“We are therefore able to focus on producing a quality product at a very competitive price,” says Vorster. “New customers test these electrodes and always come back satisfied. As the electrodes are locally manufactured, it also means we can create job opportunities for South Africans.”

First Cut’s product range is sold and distributed to multiple sectors: from mining and fabrication to agriculture, timber, food and beverage and many others. It is the DIY sector, however, where First Cut is looking to expand its current footprint, with its hand tool range. “Approximately 10% of our product range services the DIY market, and we are hoping to get into this market sector,” says Vorster.
Two globally renowned and popular brands in First Cut’s portfolio of hand tools and power tool accessories (PTA) are Eclipse and Starrett respectively.

‘Eclipse-ing’ the DIY market

The range of Eclipse hand tools includes pliers, nippers, bolt cutters, various clamps and vices and swivel bases.

As hand tool specialists, Eclipse is continually enhancing its range and adding new and innovative products to it to meet market demand. Interestingly, some of this demand arose directly due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many people engaged in home improvement during the pandemic, as they were working remotely and therefore more flexibly – and many were also confined by national lockdowns to their own properties and gardens. Eclipse has launched a fantastic range of home and garden tools as a response to customer demand accordingly,” notes Vorster.

“This range is well known in the DIY market. We have strengthened our relationship with Eclipse and structured the pricing accordingly so that it is very competitive – but again, we are not compromising on quality.”

“We have significant stock of the full Eclipse range and are confident we can serve the needs of our DIY customers moving forward.”

Reducing cost-per-cut

Starrett saws come with specialised bimetal saw technology. The advantages of this technology are higher resistance to tooth breakage, smoother and faster cuts, longer blade life and reduced cost-per-cut.

In-house training and technical support from suppliers such as Starrett have ensured that First Cut staff know what product to supply for specific industry applications. It is certainly not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to blades, says Vorster.

“We have all of this knowledge available to ensure the customer uses the correct product to get faster and better cuts – so that ultimately, they can boost their productivity,” she adds.

Power tool accessories – with an edge

First Cut offers a diverse assortment of hand tools and power tool accessories locally. This includes drill bits, hole saws, jig-saw blades, band saw blades, reciprocating saw blades, levels and tape measures.

Power tool accessories (PTA) have been a part of First Cut’s range for some time, but the range has been extended and is receiving very favourable attention in the market.

“We have always associated ourselves with specialists in cutting,” adds Vorster. “The combination of our suppliers results in us having the best quality products in our PTA stable.”

A final word on ‘safety first’

First Cut is in continuous negotiations with suppliers to ensure customers get the quality and affordability they need. This also means supporting the smaller businesses which may not be able to absorb major price increases. Another consideration in the supply-demand chain is, of course, safety – which is vital to First Cut, with its ‘safety first’ ethos.

“Our suppliers have very high safety and quality standards and controls in their manufacturing processes, which is very important to us. When a customer works with one of our products, we want them going home safely to their families at the end of the day,” Vorster concludes.

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