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In 2019, Bolt and Engineering entered into an agreement with First Cut, the primary distributor in South Africa for Messer Cutting Systems, a global supplier of cutting solutions for the metalworking industry. According to the agreement, B.E.D. and First Cut, a highly-respected South African provider of cutting, welding and grinding consumables and equipment, would jointly distribute Messer’s products and solutions in South Africa.

Better together Bolt and and First Cut

B.E.D. CEO Mike Giltrow explains: “Messer Cutting Systems is an extremely well-known and high-profile global company, and we are very pleased to be part of this collaboration. According to the agreement, B.E.D. will focus on Messer Cutting Systems solutions for the mining industry - where we are particularly well-established - while First Cut will remain the primary distributor to the metal fabrication and other sectors.

Great synergy and benefits to customers

We have always enjoyed a great relationship with First Cut as colleagues in the industry. We both have decades-long experience and have faced many of similar challenges, so our relationship is built on strong foundations - with a healthy respect for and trust in each other, and excellent potential for synergy.”

Andrew Poole, Managing Director of First Cut, concurs: “B.E.D. was an excellent choice of collaborative partner, with many benefits for Messer customers. These include their strong local presence in the mining sector and nationwide footprint of nine branches, two of which feature dedicated welding and cutting repair centres. In addition, factors such as B.E.D.’s Level 2 B-BBEE credentials, together with their very active sales force - and mobile welding technical support teams - made the decision to partner with them a very good one.”

The joint distribution agreement was originally finalised in 2019 originally, before the global Covid-19 pandemic. The activation thereof then had to be delayed during the ensuing nationwide lockdowns.

“Now that the country is in more of an endemic phase - with the opening up of the economy again - we are eager to take our existing strong relationship and rekindle it into quick, positive forward motion between trusted partners,” Poole continues.

Giltrow adds that both companies are very pleased to be working together with the mutual goal of growing and elevating Messer Cutting Systems brand profile and market penetration locally. “This is a re-emergence of the brand in South Africa,” he enthuses. “From B.E.D.’s side, we are excited to be working - as a certified Messer distributor along with First Cut - to grow this trusted global brand, and introduce it to a new generation of Messer customers in South Africa.”

Gas safety training

Quality and safety are of paramount importance to both B.E.D. and First Cut. This is further evidenced by the recent merger of interests, in late 2021, between First Cut and respected industry stalwart Gas Safety International (GSI), a certified gas safety training and quality gas equipment to a wide range of sectors.

Explains Poole: “The welding process follows on naturally from cutting, forming the next integral part of the fabrication and manufacturing value chain. The merger of interests with GSI, headed by well-known Managing Director Peter Rohlssen, brings synergies, strengths and new offerings to the table, specifically with regards to gas safety training, consulting and auditing.”

“This is yet another value-add,” notes Giltrow, “and another excellent strategic fit between B.E.D and First Cut. Thanks to the merger of interests with GSI and First Cut, B.E.D. will now also be working closely with GSI, on welding auditing, training and consulting. The arrangement will benefit all of our customers, as the offering continues to widen.”

Gas safety conference

“Together with Messer Cutting Systems, GSI and First Cut, we are hosting a conference to address the risks, challenges and potential solutions associated with the handling and use of compressed gases.

This is in line with the overarching concern of all parties regarding safety in the workplace, and specifically when it comes to working with gas. The theme of the conference - which is to taking place on the 28th June in Johannesburg - is ‘Safety unites’, with the intention of providing delegates with a holistic, in-depth understanding of compressed gas usage, and sharing solutions which can effectively and safely address these risks,” explains Giltrow.

Value-adding to mining

Poole points to the currently strong commodities market, which has boosted mining, and that mines are consequently well-placed to reinvest in aspects such as gas and welding safety training – a critical factor in their daily operations.

“Together with GSI, we have developed three gas safety courses – Levels 1, 2 and 3. This includes an introductory gas safety course - presented in English and several local African languages – along with an oral test on completion, which takes into account those participants who perhaps are not fully literate and cannot complete written examinations,” he explains.

Giltrow remarks that these gas safety training courses will be well-received in the mining sector, and this will enable B.E.D. to add further value to customers in this pivotal national industry.

Peter Rohlssen, MD of GSI, comments: “Having presented gas safety courses in South Africa for the last 30 plus years largely on our own, it is now a fantastic opportunity to extend our reach via the very well established and connected First Cut and B.E.D Group.”

Martin Zeller, Division Manager Sales: Oxyfuel Business Unit at Messer Cutting Systems says: “We really appreciate the way in which this dynamic collaboration has developed, and a great respect for the obvious trust that this shows between B.E.D., First Cut and GSI.

We are also most appreciative of the high regard that is paid to the role of safety amongst the partners which aligns with Messer Cutting System’s own proactive approach to safety. These strategic partnerships have given us the possibility to roll out our knowledge and expertise into the African market - and furthermore in the mining industry. We look forward to offering Messer Cutting System’s support, expertise and strengths, and have a keen interest in furthering our growth with the South African market as we see real long-term potential.”

Better together

“Messer Cutting Systems is an important part of our welding and cutting product and solutions portfolio,” clarifies Giltrow, “and we are looking forward to working together with all parties in order to be stronger together.

Trust has indeed been the ‘glue’ that has brought all parties to this point, and we look forward to creating ongoing growth opportunities, together. These will in turn create additional local employment, and assist us in contributing to South Africa’s economic growth,” he concludes.

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Wilhelm du Plessis
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