600SA Machine Tools secure with some recognised machining agencies

“With over 45 years of experience in the sales and service arena of metalworking equipment, with a number of those working together at some well-known machine tool dealers here in South Africa, the two of us teaming up to start our own company was almost inevitable, or should we say CNC programmed to be so,” quipped Johnny Pierdica, one of the two Directors at 600SA Machine Tools Pty Ltd.

Pierdica was talking about himself and fellow Director Richard Poalses, who worked with Pierdica at F&H Machine Tools for a number of years and prior to that at 600SA Group for three years. Both these companies no longer exist as they have been swallowed up in mergers and acquisitions.

“The company has now been operational for virtually two years since we registered 600SA Machine Tools, with the 600SA name a household name in South Africa since 1967. The business activities at one time included the importation of machine tools that are known throughout the world.”

“The leading machine tool brand names Colchester lathes, Harrison lathes and Pratt Burnerd chucks have found their way into many engineering companies around South Africa and many are still in perfect working order. Manufactured by Colchester Machine Tool Solutions, a division of 600 Group Plc, the company has roots that date back to 1834.”

The 600SA Machine Tools team Johnny Pierdica, Carlos Hlanganiso and Richard Poalses

“I have strong connections with the UK-based 600 Group PLC as I was the General Manager of the local 600SA Holdings machine tool division for 16 years before this division was purchased by F&H Machine Tools in 2012. The resultant acquisition saw me move to F&H Machine Tools and I was there for six years before that company, along with a few others in the metalworking engineering supply industry, was acquired by a JSE Stock Exchange-linked company.”

“Both Richard and myself had been with F&H Machine Tools for a number of years when the acquisition took place. As we were both not getting younger we decided it was time that we went on our own and start our own company.”

“It was a big step for both of us because before, while we were employed by the various companies, we had been ‘protected’ when we imported a machine for a client. What I mean by ‘protected’ is that all the necessary importation paperwork and finance options were already in place. Starting a business can require a lot of work, time and money. Many mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without having a well written business plan and access to start-up and living costs.”

Takisawa CNC machines are one of the manufacturers that the company will represent

“Then there is the case of reputation, experience and trust. All of these factors are looked at by your service providers, bankers and of course your suppliers. All they are worried about is getting paid for product delivered.”

“We are not the first to face this challenge and there will be many more that do in the future. Fortunately we had strong and long relationships with all of our suppliers and they were all prepared to support us in any way that they could. We have visited their factories, seen them at international exhibitions and taken them on sales and installation trips here in South Africa.”

Worked on the machines before traversing into machine sales
“We do believe that both of us have a big advantage over many machine sales people though. I spent four years qualifying as a turner machinist before starting as a fulltime operator and CNC programmer. I was with Premier Valves and spent 16 years with them, rising to Workshop Manager, before crossing the divide to applications engineer in 1996, later moving into sales. I am still very much involved on the applications side of things.”

Harrison is another company 600SA will represent

“Richard is also a qualified turner machinist and he began his selling career in 1999 selling tooling at first before joining 600SA Holdings as a machine tool salesman for 3 years, later moving to Edwin Roth & Co as a machine tool sale manager. Sadly this well-known name is no longer around as the company has recently been liquidated.”

“During our time on the floor and as salesmen we have both gained invaluable applications knowledge and we are not scared to offer a solution that is not a run of the mill enquiry. We would rather have these enquiries as they make life interesting.”

International representation
“We have secured some recognisable international machine manufacturers to represent in South Africa, companies that already have many installations in South Africa so have a track record.”

“These include Taiwanese companies Quaser, Takumi, Takisawa, Jessey and Proking, Colchester and Harrison Alpha from the UK, Hardinge Bridgeport and Gleason from the US and Czech Republic company Tos Trens. Through Tos Trens we also have an introduction to all the other Tos companies that make metalworking equipment.”

600SA Machine Tools has also signed an agreement with Gleason to sell their gear cutting equipment

“On the accessory side we are representing Pratt Burnerd International, who are well-known for their chucks, and TJR, who are well-known for their rotary tables.”

“Through the above companies we are able to offer a full spectrum of top quality high-tech conventional and CNC machine tools for the metal removal sector industry. These include lathes, milling machines, machining centers, teach-in lathes, slant type lathes and production systems for all types of gears.”

Spares and service
“With the amount of machines that have been installed in South Africa and the surrounding countries from the companies that we represent we had to be very cognisant of the after-sales market such as service and spares.”

“We have secured the services of our technician colleagues from our previous company so we do not have to worry about servicing and the installation of new machines.”

Pratt Burnerd is a company within the 600 Holdings Group and the chucks will be sold in South Africa by 600S

“On the spares side we have employed Carlos Hlanganiso. Carlos has four years of experience in stores management and spares ordering. He worked at F&H Machine Tools as well, learning from a couple of former colleagues who had been working in the spares department at the company for many years. Again our suppliers have been very cooperative and we can operate with the confidence of knowing that we are not lacking in this department.”

Office and warehouse
“Even though the trend today is to work from home and we have done so for most of the time that the company has been in existence we have found that we do need a central base to hold meetings as well as warehousing and storage space of spares,” explained Poalses.

“We have just rented space in Alrode South, Gauteng. This is progress and could open up a whole new chapter for us. You can do most things virtually but in time a showroom could be beneficial.”

“Johnny and myself have been given an opportunity that we are very grateful for. Starting a company with a host of brands that are very recognisable and trusted in the world, let alone South Africa, is a big bonus.”

For further details contact 600SA Machine Tools: Johnny 072 157 6003, Richard 061 525 3060 or Carlos 064 505 9906 or visit www.mt600sa.co.za