Every two years, over 100 suppliers in the industrial sector gather under one roof to showcase their products, equipment and services to the local market in KwaZulu-Natal. This year’s KZN Industrial Technology Exhibition (KITE) took place from 18-20 July, where providers were exposed to the region’s largest gathering of industrial companies all seeking out their solutions.
First Cut exhibited at KITE 2023 and was in demand as South Africa’s leading manufacturer and distributor of cutting, welding and grinding consumables, capital equipment and precision measuring tools.
Standing out from the crowd
Its position as a supplier of equipment for the metal, timber, textile, meat, DIY, paper and plastic industries gave First Cut added versatility and appeal, and it was perhaps no surprise that they were a standout supplier at the event.
“There was a queue coming into our stand,” says National Sales Director, Stuart Beck, who adds that their presence at KITE 2023 – together with their new Pinetown-based premises – has really put First Cut “back on the map” in terms of their Durban market.
“On the opening day of KITE 2023, some of the organisers wanted to meet with us, and struggled to even get to us! They said that we had the busiest stand at the show,” Beck observes.
As an unfortunate legacy of Covid, stands were smaller than in previous years, and the audience of buyers with high purchasing power were perhaps slightly more hesitant, he notes.
With that said, he was stunned and equally excited by the response First Cut received at KITE 2023, with return on investment already showing within a week of the show.
“For example, we have already supplied several brand-new customer, which we had not met prior to the show and introduced our range to many more” he comments.
“The real work starts now though – we have a list of approximately 70 leads. The success of the show rests on how we follow up on these over the next few months. We aim to close deals and create new business from the pending enquiries we received.”
With the exhibition aimed at providing industrial solutions to local businesses, First Cut knew they needed to showcase their best products and equipment. In this regard, they looked to their key consumables suppliers, namely Starrett and Eclipse, while also having two Everising machines on display from their extensive capital equipment range.
What began as a display ended up as a performance, according to Beck, and it certainly drew in the crowds.
“We were cutting steel, with diameters of 150mm and 180mm, and cutting it so paper-thin that the material was bending,” said Beck. “People could not believe that a machine like that could cut steel that thin.”
“We had huge support from Starrett, who flew in one of their international trainers. We were cutting, drilling and sawing steel and drilling holes in wood…we made a huge noise, but this certainly worked to our advantage, as it attracted visitors to our stand.”
According to Beck, most of the product enquiries came from local business owners, production managers and key decision makers from Durban and its surrounding areas. Some of the new business leads also came from other parts of the province, such as Newcastle, Richards Bay and even further afield.
“We also have two interested parties from Johannesburg, one of which I have already met with about a supply of blades and abrasives,” Beck added.
The status of industrial technology
KITE also provided opportunities for First Cut to interact with their fellow suppliers, swapping notes on key industry trends, innovations and legislative changes shaping the future of the industrial sector.
These trends include product digitalisation as industrial technology evolves.
“Industrial product innovation is of course very IT-based,” comments Beck: “For example, palettes on robots using sensors.
There were some large international companies at the exhibition, who are known for implementing open interface automation systems using PC-based control technology. It certainly is impressive how they are now integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into their product ranges,” he concludes.