In the highly competitive cutting and tooling sectors, customers rely on stringent quality, robustness and technically sound products which will not only last them a life-time’; but will provide excellent accuracy, performance and return-on-investment. In a nutshell, the ‘fastest first cut’.
Since First Cut, a leading South African manufacturer and distributor of capital equipment and cutting consumables began manufacturing hacksaw blades 19 years ago under licence from Neill Tools (Spear and Jackson’s parent company) the relationship – as well as local market leadership – has grown and flourished.
Spear and Jackson has an especially lengthy heritage of cutting tool excellence dating back more than two centuries. With origins in the heart of the UK’s iconic Sheffield steel industry, the company has become a household name in gardening tools and metal, wood and masonry saws.
The Spear and Jackson Group has two main ‘house’ brands: Spear and Jackson, which produces artisan-type tools as well as garden implements; and Eclipse, which is focused on metal cutting and metal holding tools. The Eclipse brand of hacksaw blades has for many years occupied the dominant market position in South Africa.
Recently, Spear and Jackson’s Export Sales Director, Steve Turner, visited South Africa to assist First Cut in launching the innovative new Eclipse Predator reciprocating saw blade range.
“This new range of blades has been designed to serve the power tool market, a major area of development for Spear and Jackson as the demand for power tools and accessories grows – and one in which we can really achieve brand and market leadership,” Turner explains.
The blades are available in three types, High Carbon Steel (HCS), Bi-metal and Tungsten Carbide (TC).
The HCS blade range has been designed for wood cutting, although they are highly suitable for cutting other soft materials such as laminated chipboards and soft plastics.
The bi-metal blades with their electron beam-welded heavy-duty bi-metal construction feature a M42 HSS steel cutting edge containing 8% cobalt for robust, longer lasting teeth.
The TC range features blades with tungsten carbide tipped teeth, which allow for fast, easy cutting through construction material such as brick, porous concrete and masonry. All blades are supplied in five-packs with the exception of the brick blade which is sold in singles.
“With these blades, reciprocal saw users will be able to exploit the full potential of these versatile tools,” he comments.
Importantly, these new reciprocal saw blades also fit with the prevailing business strategy at Spear and Jackson.
“We are often asked if we supply both professional and DIY ranges which are priced accordingly. Spear and Jackson has the philosophy that we supply professional quality tools which are accessible to the DIY user, who can then effectively ‘trade up’,” continues Turner.
“Spear and Jackson is one of the few companies in the world that can claim a more than 256 year history. This remarkable longevity has been based on the company’s dedication to quality, innovation and realistic pricing,” he adds.
Throughout its history, Spear and Jackson has refused to compromise its brands by sacrificing quality in the name of cost-cutting. “We see no value in a ‘race to the bottom’. Rather, we want to provide excellent quality products and tools which are priced for maximum cost-effectiveness,” says Turner.
“At Spear and Jackson, we are constantly developing new tools in a proactive response to market demands,” he adds. To this end, annually, the company invests a sizeable proportion of its budget in research and design (R&D) and subsequent exhaustive product and quality testing.
Turner also emphasises that originality and innovation are prized at Spear and Jackson, as there is no gain in making ‘me-too’ products. He cites the example of a vice that is being prototyped at the company’s headquarters.
“We have added substantial utility to this vice by fitting it with a pipe jaw attachment, something that the tool market has not seen before,” Turner explains.
Turner comments that tools have to be a natural extension of the human hand. Before releasing a new tool on the market, the tool is sent out to expert industry testers to be used in the field. The extensive feedback is analysed and applied to ensure that the final product ‘is a delight to use’.
“As Spear and Jackson’s local manufacturer and distributor, we host Steve several times a year in order to collaborate closely, obtaining first-hand, valuable feedback on their products from our extensive customer base,” explains Gary Willis, Director at First Cut and responsible for the consumables division.
“First Cut’s dedication to quality, innovation and cost-effectiveness underpins the success of our relationship with Spear and Jackson,” comments Willis.
“In Spear and Jackson, First Cut has a principal and partner which subscribes to the same business principles that we do. Thanks to this synergy, we look forward to our relationship going from strength to strength; as well as exponential growth of the Spear and Jackson and Eclipse brands in South Africa, and the sub-Saharan region,” he concludes.