Multitrade Distributors celebrates 30th anniversary

The path to success usually starts off in a small environment and gradually through hard work and dedication over the years, achievement can be seen in the success of the pursuit. This can certainly be said of Johny Hansen and Multitrade Distributors, who celebrated their 30th year in business recently.

It all started over 40 years ago. Straight from school Johny joined his father’s company Hansen Engineering in Port Elizabeth, where he spent twelve 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 3rd 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.

The opportunity came when looking for Mitsubishi tooling, Hansen Engineering were able to source it from a hardware shop in Cape Town that was only servicing that area. Spotting the opportunity Johny and friend Barry McCleland 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 twelve months. Well 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 1 200 m² premises in Meadowdale, Germiston, Gauteng. All along the company had been growing considerably and new agencies were taken on to compliment the existing Mitsubishi Materials carbide range.

Nowadays Multitrade also markets ARNO Alu inserts for aluminium machining, SSANGYONG Ceramic inserts, NT Tool Corp machining centre holders and D’Andrea facing and boring heads, modular and mono-block toolholder and boring systems. Multitrade Distributors also distributes the KOMET GROUP range of modular tooling systems and metal cutting tools.

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 compliment of 35, 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.

To celebrate the occasion Multitrade Distributors invited clients, guests and suppliers to a function at Emperors Palace in September 2013.

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

Mr Naruto Takahashi MHT Thailand, Mr Fumio Tsurumaki MMC Japan, Johny and Yolanda Hansen, Terry and Jeanette Nichols, all of Multitrade Distributors and Mr Yutaka Tanaka of MMC Japan