Multitrade Distributors reaches 35th anniversary milestone

This year will mark the 35th anniversary in business of Multitrade Distributors, a wholly owned South African company that supplies tungsten carbide cutting tools as well as holding tools to the engineering and manufacturing industries.

It all started over 40 years ago. Straight after finishing school Johny Hansen joined his father’s company Hansen Engineering in Port Elizabeth, where he spent 12 years. During this time Johny completed his studies at the Technikon and his apprenticeship as a turner machinist. Hansen Engineering is still a very successful third-generation general engineering company in its own right manufacturing automotive related components and is run by Johny’s brother Glenn and nephew Erik.

Cutting his teeth in an engineering manufacturing environment certainly put Johny in a position whereby he could start his own business of selling cutting tools with the confidence of knowing that he had been on the ‘other’ side, having put in many hours working the machines.

Johny Hansen, owner and CEO of Multitrade Distributors

The opportunity came when looking for Mitsubishi tooling, Hansen Engineering was only able to source it from a hardware shop in Cape Town that was only servicing that area. Spotting the opportunity Johny and a partner formed a partnership and opened Multitrade Distributors in Port Elizabeth.

They then approached Mitsubishi Corporation in Johannesburg. As there was already an agreement in place with the hardware shop they were only given the opportunity to be a reseller, with an understanding that this agreement would be reviewed after 12 months. In this period they sold 90% of all sales of Mitsubishi Materials carbide tooling in South Africa, and this was mainly to Port Elizabeth metalworking companies. It was no contest and Multitrade Distributors were given the sole distributorship rights for South Africa.

The next step was to get going in the bigger market of the Gauteng area. With his car boot full of tooling, Johny headed off to Johannesburg. Sales in the first month totalled R1 700.00 and it was the start of better things to come.

Office space was rented in the Auckland Park, Gauteng area and Multitrade Distributors operated from these premises until 1992, when they moved into their own 1 200m² premises in Meadowdale, Germiston, Gauteng. All along the company had been growing considerably and new agencies were taken on to complement the existing Mitsubishi Materials carbide range.

Managing Director Pamela van Jaarsveld and Sales Director Mark Lotter

Nowadays Multitrade also markets Arno Werkzeuge inserts for aluminium machining, SsangYong ceramic inserts for hard part turning and milling of hardened steel, cast iron, ductile cast iron, chilled cast iron rolls, reinforced ceramics for difficult to machine materials applicable to the aeronautical industry, M.T. S.r.l. static and driven toolholders for CNC turning centers, the Komet Group range of modular tooling systems and metal cutting tools and the Kintek range of toolholders.

In April 2015 Mitsubishi Materials (MMC) of Japan acquired a 51% shareholding in Hitachi Tool Engineering Ltd, a leading Japanese cemented carbide cutting tool and wear part manufacturer. Hitachi Tool became part of MMC’s Advanced Materials & Tools Division and began manufacturing and marketing its products under the name of Moldino, with a focus on the mould and die manufacturing industry. With its long time association with MMC Multitrade were appointed the local distributors.

With Mitsubishi Materials as Multitrade’s central area of activity, they are able to supply machine shops with the three main styles of metal cutting modes namely turning, milling and drilling in various geometries and sizes.

With a staff complement of 43, today Multitrade operates on a principle of servicing clients with the right product at the right price in the shortest possible time. Shipments used to have a lead time of six weeks but now three shipments arrive from the Mitsubishi Materials warehouse in Singapore every week. Branches have also been opened in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Moreover Johny has been instrumental in taking Multitrade Distributors to a position of supplying around 10% of the local cutting tool market, and in 2005 took full control of the company when he purchased his partner’s shareholding.

Head office move to Edenvale
Due to space constraints and to better serve its customer base Multitrade Distributors made a move to a new head office in Edenvale. Plans are already afoot to alter and add more space to these premises to absorb the company’s expansion plans.

Staff changes
2017 saw several managerial changes at Multitrade Distributors. Pamela van Jaarsveld, the company’s Financial Manager was appointed Managing Director. Pamela is a qualified CA(SA) with more than 10 years post graduate experience gained at both global and local manufacturing companies.

Long serving Sales Director Terry Nicholls reached retirement age and has been succeeded by Mark Lotter, who has been with the company since 2005 and was the company’s National Technical and Sales Manager. Terry’s experience and knowledge will however not be lost to the company as he will continue to act as a consultant with a primary emphasis of developing new areas of business.

Johny Hansen will continue as the owner and CEO of the company.

For further details call Multitrade on TEL: 011 453 8034 or 087 803 2377 or visit