First Cut and Messer Cutting Systems strengthen ties

Recent acquisition of Gas Safety International by First Cut aligns with Messer Cutting Systems’ proactive approach to safety.

Three years ago, First Cut, one of the leading distributors of international capital equipment and consumables in South Africa, announced that the company had signed a distribution agreement with Germany’s Messer Cutting Systems to market the company’s thermal cutting machine programme, which includes a wide range of plasma, oxyfuel and large plate processing equipment, all used by steel processors and fabricators throughout the country.

Additionally, Messer Cutting Systems manufactures a broad product range that provides solutions in the field of hand flame-cutting, pre-heating and flame straightening, starting from standard and customised heating torches, up to complete systems.

First Cut subsequently concluded an agreement with Messer Cutting Systems to manufacture a wide range of the Messer Cutting Systems’ welding rods and wires for several applications, at its factory in Benrose, Johannesburg, for use in the South African mining and general engineering industries.

“We subsequently opened up a welding division, which included the local manufacture of the full range of Messer Cutting Systems electrodes, used when cutting and fabricating mild steel, stainless steels, carbon-manganese steels, problem steels, gouging and hard-facing applications and more. The electrode range is manufactured under licence from Messer and the products have to comply with German, British and American quality standards such as DIN, AWS/ASME and BS,” said Andrew Poole, MD of First Cut.

Andrew Poole of First Cut with Axel Vogelsang, Key Account Manager Western Europe and Africa, John V Emholz, Global President and CEO and Martin Zeller, International Sales Manager, all of Messer Cutting Systems

“First Cut’s history dates back over 65 years and in that time we have built a reputation on a solid base of manufacture and distribution of hack saws, band saws, bow saws, butcher saws and various hand tools. We subsequently opened up a capital equipment division, which specialises in supplying equipment general cutting, plate processing, plasma cutting, oxy-fuel cutting, drilling, sheet metal processing, coil processing, roll forming, laser cutting, bending, punching, shearing, structural fabrication, beam processing, flat and angle processing, surface treatment, tube processing, tube mills, tube bending, perforation and end forming.”

Messer Cutting Systems’ machines are suitable for solutions for various sectors, such as automotive, construction, custom cutting/steel service centres, energy, material handling, mechanical engineering, metal products/heavy steelworks, plant and pressure vessels, recycling, shipbuilding and shipyards, rail, agriculture, job shop, structural steel, general engineering and precision fabrication applications. Messer Cutting Systems also provides full system support with technical and applications training, including software.

Bolt and Engineering Distributors appointed as distributors
“We subsequently appointed Bolt and Engineering Distributors (BED) as distributors of the full range of Messer Cutting Systems’ products, systems and consumables with an emphasis on the mining industry where BED has a strong penetration.”

“This is a strategic partnership and is going to help grow the Messer brand in South Africa. BED have penetration in many different industries, from the mining industry to general engineering,” continued Poole.

Acquisition of Gas Safety International by First Cut
“However, when using gas or oxygen as a cutting or welding medium there are many safety requirements to take into consideration. At the start of every gas control path pressure regulators are the decisive connection between the gas supply and the torch. Depending upon pressure, volumes, connections required or the type of gas being used, various aspects must be considered. A technically faultless and simultaneously safe take-up point has the highest priority here,” explained Poole.

Messer Cutting Systems offers the Element 400 cutting machine, which includes the Global Connect onboard controller with redesigned HMI software and integrated OmniFab compatibility. This configuration helps improve real-time transparency on maintenance, downtime status, and production reports that are transmitted through the controller, via a PC, or tablet. This machine can be equipped with options such as plasma bevel cutting, oxyfuel cutting, marking and cutting tables

“Through our subsequent discussions we started to explore opportunities that would be mutually beneficial to both Messer and ourselves.”

“In November 2021 we, First Cut, announced that we had entered into an agreement with Gas Safety International (GSI), a Johannesburg-based company that has been providing certified training and supplying gas equipment to the industrial sector in South Africa, since 1985.”

“Safety and education around gas usage has always been high on the agenda at Messer Cutting Systems. The company is very willing to part with the knowledge that the company has acquired over the 124 years of its existence.”

“They – GSI – are at the front end of safety in South Africa, as Messer Cutting Systems are. The synergies between the two companies are obvious. It has opened up opportunities for us to impart the international knowledge and skills into the local industrial market over and above the mining industry.”

Visit by Messer Cutting Systems CEO
Reinforcing the relationship between Messer Cutting Systems and First Cut was evident with the January 2022 visit to South Africa of John V Emholz, President and CEO Global of Messer Cutting Systems. He was accompanied by two other colleagues – Axel Vogelsang, Key Account Manager Western Europe and Africa and Martin Zeller, International Sales Manager.

Three years ago First Cut, one of the leading distributors of international capital equipment and consumables in South Africa, announced that the company had signed a distribution agreement with Germany’s Messer Cutting Systems to market the company’s plasma, oxyfuel, and large-plate processing equipment

Emholz, who, alongside his duties as President and CEO Global of the Messer Cutting Systems Group, had, as an interim measure, led the businesses in Europe since July 2017. With the recent appointment of Oliver Friz as Managing Director, Emholz relinquishes this position. Friz now takes over the responsibility of Messer Cutting Systems GmbH Europa with the company headquarters in Groß-Umstadt, the Service Centre in Essen and the European national companies of Messer Cutting Systems GmbH.

“In First Cut we have chosen a great partner and one that thinks very much like ourselves. Their acquisition of GSI is a perfect example. We cannot stress enough the importance of training and education in the usage and safety of gas in all situations, not just industry,” said Emholz.

“Relatively speaking we have not had a very long relationship but already we are enhancing it. Our collaboration, experiences and talks have led us to jointly do product development and to explore opportunities that are going to be mutually beneficial to both companies,” continued Emholz.

“We are not just a solution provider for the metalworking industry. Health and safety are number one with our company and in industry it should be mandatory.”

“This visit is certainly a commitment to South Africa and pleasantly a mutual respect has been developed.”

For further details contact First Cut on TEL: 011 614 1112 or visit