We have a dilemma fastener friends. I called and confirmed that the Bourbon Room is closing after September 11 and will not reopen until some time in December. So, our usual after hours meeting place will be gone this year. They mentioned what the new place will be but it doesn’t really matter anyways. The show is moving out of the Sands Expo Center in 2018 so we probably would not be going to the new place once it is open anyways.
Anybody got any ideas on where might be a good place to congregate? The outdoor bar by Harrah’s is crowded but not a bad place – weather permitting. There is a place called the Laguna Champagne Bar in the Palazzo or Venetian, but I’m not sure they have music.
Please feel free to share ideas if you have any thoughts on this topic.
My favorite sales book is “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless – Customer Loyalty is Priceless” by Jeffrey Gitomer. The subtitle reads, “How to make customers love you, keep them coming back and tell everyone they know”.
I’ve given this book to a dozen people. I know one of these people read it and then bought the book for his entire department. I’m not sure if Jeffrey Gitomer is as well known as Zig Ziegler or Tom Hopkins but I’d rate his book among the best. According to Gitomer, Satisfaction is no longer the acceptable standard of customer service. His book says, “Just because they’re satisfied doesn’t mean they’re loyal. Satisfied customers will buy from anyone.” His book proceeds to give countless examples of how you can offer exceptional customer service that helps you to build loyalty with your customers. There is a lot of comedy throughout the book and it is an easy read. I don’t want to share too much of the book here but I’ll share a couple parts I found enlightening or entertaining.
Gitomer has a list of forbidden phrases – lines that send the wrong message to a customer and usually add fire to any argument:
- It’s our policy
- What seems to be the problem
- You should have done…
- Let me transfer you to someone who handles that
He suggests you give responses the “Grandma Test”. If it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to say to your Grandma, then don’t say it to your customer.
- Sorry, we’re closed, Grandma
- What is this in reference to Grandma?
- It’s our policy Grandma
Gitomer kind of has a disdain for the word “policy”. He writes, “Do you like when someone gives you ‘the policy’? Kind of sounds like ‘the finger”. “It’s our policy…to piss off everyone”. What if customer service policies read like this: “Hey, you’re in luck! – I just looked it up in the policy book and it says right here I can do everything you want, just the way you want it”. In general, policy is written to tell you what you can’t do.
Anyways, you get the picture. I like his book. A lot. So, I’m involved in a few fastener associations and from time to time I am involved in trying to set ups speakers or events for these associations. So, while sipping some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee last Sunday morning, I went to Gitomer’s website and filled out a “speaker request” form to see how I might be able to get Mr. Gitomer to speak at a fastener event. I mean the Fastener Training Institute is offering all kinds of technical fastener training. I’m in sales, and I’d like to see more sales training offered. I filled out the form, included my cell number and within a half hour I got a call — “This is Jeffrey….Jeffrey Gitomer”.
Needless to say, I was caught a bit off guard. But I pulled it together, gathered my thoughts and explained how I was involved in an association that might like to hire him as a speaker. He asked, “What industry?” I proudly announced, “the fastener industry”, and then waited expectantly for him to ask me what was the fastener industry. Instead I got, “My dad made cabinets and as a young man I installed a lot of screw into cabinetry. Yeah, and I gave a presentation to Fastenal a while back”. Damn, Fastenal beat me to the punch.
I’d like to hear Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales presentation. I’d like the rest of the fastener industry to hear Jeffrey Gitomer’s sales presentation. How about this. Go pick up his book, read it over. If you’re in sales or are a sales manager, I think you’ll like it. And if you like what you’ve read get in touch with me so we can gather some resources and have him come to a fastener association gathering or trade show somewhere in the near future. One fastener company has already done that.
This article appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday, August 14, 2016. Found it kind of shocking. We need Russian planes to move equipment because we do not planes domestically that can handle the job. Read on.
I saw where the Fastener Distributor Index (FDI) for July slipped dramatically, coming in at 45.9 versus 50.6 in June, seasonally adjusted. Over the last month I have had an opportunity to talk to a lot of people about how their year is going so far. If I had to summarize, I’d say that a good number of fastener companies had sales that were 5-10% lower in 2016 than 2015. That is a generalization, but seems to be a common sentiment. If you are heavy into oil & gas, you might be down 30%.
The weird thing for me is that I really never expected to see such a significant drop in July. Historically, July can be a brutal month due to vacations & summer slowdowns. But based on what I have been hearing, I did not see such a big drop coming.
Everywhere, I hear people say they are doing a lot of quoting. Sometimes that can be because end users are slow and they are out shopping. But, I’m not sure that is the case here. I have had some people say just in the last week or so that they have started to see some orders popping that have been worked on for months. Even one guy in Oil & Gas/Mining told me his customers have really started to pick up in the last several weeks. It would not surprise me to see the FDI have an equally strong rebound in September or October. Don’t bet the farm, but as I said it would not shock me.
At the NFDA meeting in June, Brian Beauliu of ITR Economics said his firm was forecasting that business would pick up in the second half of 2016, regardless of who is elected president. He also said he expects 2017 & 2018 to be much stronger and is more worried about inventory levels and staffing being adequate to handle the upcoming increase in business. I certainly hope he is correct and this would also lead to an increase in the FDI were this to happen.
Sometimes companies are busy, but sales are not strong. Purchasing departments are always busy. If they are buying 1,000,000 pcs. or 1,000 pcs., buyers have to quote and buy and schedule and expedite. Sales forces too should always be busy. Unless you have 100% market share there is always business to go after. And, in both purchasing and sales, you need to work hard to protect the business you have already been blessed with. So, generally people are still working hard, they will just sleep more soundly when sales and margins increase. Let’s hope things do improve sooner than later.
One last thing, following up on my last post, I want to direct you to take a look at the updates Fastener News Desk site. In particular, check out the MFG Day page they have developed:
And, please, let them know if your company is going to participate in MFG Day this year. They will get your name on the map and help promote your event.
There will be a shortage of skilled employees in the future, especially in manufacturing. This is fairly well predicted and documented. Programmers, machinists, etc. Many manufacturers in the fastener industry have expressed that they worry about being able to attract young people to come work in their factories.
The Fastener Industry Coalition (FIC) is hoping to not only promote MFG Day but they hope to bring attention specifically to the fastener industry on MFG Day. The FIC is made up of fastener associations from coast to coast as well as several national fastener associations including IFI, NFDA, WIFI and YFP. The FIC has set a goal of getting AT LEAST one fastener manufacturer from each regional fastener association to participate in MFG Day. They want coast to coast participation, partly to draw attention the the fastener industry but, more importantly, to support fastener manufacturers seeking to attract future employees.
For several years, the people at Fastener News Desk have been promoting MFG Day and have helped many manufacturers attract high school and trade school students with interest in manufacturing to their events. Fastener News Desk has agreed to partner with the FIC to help them publicize those companies who participate in MFG Day.
If your company plans to participate in MFG Day activities, please respond and let us know. Or, if a fastener company in your area is participating, please post on this site or get in contact with the Fastener Industry Coalition or your local fastener association. We all would like to help promote all fastener companies that take part in MFG Day which is schedule for the first Friday on October which, this year, is October 7, 2016.
To learn more about MFG Day go to: www.mfgday.com
I’m currently not a member of the NFDA but I was invited to attend the Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky as guest of another company. For quite a while I have wanted to attend an NFDA event and Vickie Lester told me that the Annual Meeting with the ESPS Sessions was one of the more popular meetings. And, now that I have attended I can see very clearly why these are so popular. The whole event was just great – very well organized, very productive and fun too. I really cannot say enough good things about the event.
As far as I can tell, the people who signed up for this meeting attended all the functions. The opening reception was well attended and gave me an opportunity to visit with a lot of industry friends and some people I had not met before. Immediately after the reception, a large number of attendees moved over to the bar area that was very centrally located and overlooked the Ohio River. The bar was a large, open area and a perfect place for a large group to comfortably carry on the visiting and networking. Central meeting areas are always great at trade shows and association meetings and I’m pretty certain Vickie had scoped this out before settling on the Galt House as the host hotel.
The following morning there was a breakfast session and NFDA President Casey McIlhon did a great job of covering association business. Vickie, Casey and the rest of the board deserve a lot of credit as it was evident that a lot of planning went into this meeting. After breakfast came the ESPS sessions which were even better than I expected. The NFDA had an entire hotel floor sectioned off where companies could hold private meetings in their hotel suites. Each half hour, there would be a signal for visitors to move on to their next session in a sort of “fastener speed dating”. Some attendees filled their entire schedule (12 available meeting sessions) but contacted other suppliers for private meetings before or after these scheduled sessions. I participated in several of these “additional” meetings. The companies that secured rooms and hosted customers all seemed to be very pleased with the results of their meetings. Attendees came prepared and had specific things to discuss while leaving time to learn more about the host companies. NFDA meetings are usually held at places where one can enjoy oneself, but the ESPS sessions were serious business. The sessions I sat in on were great. That evening we enjoyed dinner at the Muhammad Ali Center which also is located on the picturesque Ohio River.
NFDA membership includes many “movers and shakers” in the fastener industry and there were plenty of them at this event. And the atmosphere was casual and comfortable and I felt very welcome even as a guest. Well, except for Tom Buddenbohn trying to report to Vickie that there was a party crasher! OK, to be honest Tom has been encouraging me for several years to attend a meeting (and join) and I’m happy to report that Tom was not lying about the association and the events. Thanks for the hospitality and I hope to see you at future NFDA events.
Got a little time over the Memorial Day weekend to do some reading. I’m not too far into the book “Linchpin” by Seth Godin but I found this passage interesting:
“Consumers are not loyal to cheap commodities. They crave the unique, the remarkable, and the human. Sure you can always succeed for a while with the cheapest, but you earn your place in the market with humanity and leadership. It’s certainly possible for a shopper to buy food more cheaply than they sell it at Trader Joe’s. But Trader’s keeps growing, because the combination of engaged employees, cutting-edge products, and fun brings people back. Even people trying to save a buck.
The cheap strategy doesn’t scale very well, so the only way to succeed is to add value by amplifying the network and giving workers a platform, not by forcing them to pretend to be machines. The fickle nature of price-shopping consumers is bad new for many companies, the companies that tried to be cheap at all costs, because now they must figure out how to make a profit from expensive, unique, disobedient employees.
Those are the only two choices. Win by being more ordinary, more standard, and cheaper. Or win by being faster, more remarkable, and more human.”
I’ve heard the expression, “the person who owns the relationship owns the business”. Do you think this holds true in the fastener industry?
Which companies in the fastener industry are trying to win by “being faster, more remarkable, and more human”?
Thanks to the records of Mike McGuire, I was able to recall the dates of the Columbus Fastener Show in 1986, my first day working in the fastener industry. Today is my 30th anniversary. Good ride so far.
Although, I did work a summer during college at All Pro Sales in Cleveland, Ohio before that, but then I went back to school. I still frequently see Joe Tomoro of Hodell-Natco who shared an office with me back then… must have been about 34 years ago. We’d go to lunch and play Galaga and Centipede and other “video games” and then rush back to the office to tell our customers that our shipments from Japan (yes, Japan) had not arrived yet and we had to backorder. But, after the summer at All Pro I went back to school, took some other jobs before I ended up back in the fastener industry for good on May 19, 1986. I had hair then and I weighed less. But I did not know squat about hydrogen embrittlement. I still don’t know a lot about it but I now have friends like Carmen Vertullo and Eric Dudas, so I’m covered. And I still talk on a semi-weekly basis with Rick Rudolph who was was of the first sales managers I worked with 30 years ago when he was with Precision Socket.
I’ve got a table top show to go to tomorrow and calls set up with Don Shan next week so I guess I’m moving on to the next 30 years. And, I still have Bill Robb and Jackie Ventura calling on all my customers so I’ll never be ever to let my guard down. Hats off to those people who continue to do what they are supposed to be doing.
Right after I hit publish another funny thought came to me. On that 1st day, 30 years ago, none other than Rich Cavoto of Metric & Multistandard was working in the booth next to me (I was in the Chicago Hardware booth). 30 years later we are working together and he just celebrated 36 years in the industry. Funny world!
Trying to get a handle on the current state of affairs in the fastener marketplace is no easy task these days. There are a few constants in the market that are easy to point to. Oil & Gas, Big Truck and Agriculture are down. Coal is way down. Aerospace and the Auto Industry have been pretty good but then someone from the IFI told me that Aerospace has come down a bit. An industry friend who attended a recent IFI meeting shared with me that their guest speaker, an economist, told them that the fundamentals of our economy are solid and we can expect growth later in the year (at least I think that is pretty much what he told me). Some people are down significantly, some are just flat, others are up just a bit. But nothing seems to be easy these days. Unless you are winning over some new business that maybe you’ve been working on for a while, then you might be doing pretty good. There is some amount of that being reported. But I do not have very many people telling me, “yeah, my customers are cranking and business is up from last year”. Just not hearing it.
On some Fridays I like to use Twitter to send out a message to people from getting some feedback from across the country. On Friday, people checked in from California,Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and some other areas. It is not exactly a scientific poll but you do get some feedback. And the word is pretty much the same across the country. Sales are pretty flat.
The presidential elections are not worth writing about other than to say be still have, potentially, the most diverse group of candidates one could imagine all still battling to tell their versions of reality. And, we are just a few months away from finding out who the final candidates will be. Regardless of who wins the election, it is clear that a huge number of people will be unhappy, angry and think the world is going to hell. The schism between the far left and the far right is just incredible and there are a bunch of people in both camps or else we would still not be looking at this group of candidates. Cooperation and team spirit are no part of this year’s election. There does not seem to be much of a “middle” where Americans would be able to come meet and work together. Not sure what all this does to our economy but, eventually, we nut and bolt sales people will be affected somehow.
Acquisitions are the one thing that seems noteworthy and causes people in the fastener industry to talk. Wurth buying House of Threads is probably the largest acquisition of note so far. It’s interesting to note that lately I have heard the names Holokrome and Cardinal being referred to by fastener distributors. These two companies were acquired by Fastenal and yet Fastenal seems have them running separate from the multi branch Fastenal we have thought of for years. I guess what I am saying is that I thought fastener distributors might be more reluctant to buy from these two companies as they are owned by one of their largest competitors, but someone is doing a pretty good job of marketing them under their original names. I hear distributors tell me they are quoting Cardinal or Holokrome and they do not seem to be bothered by the connection to the mother ship. Please understand, this is just an observation and not a judgement. Everyone should do whatever is best for their own company and an awful lot of product is bought and sold between competitors. I just think Fastenal is doing a pretty good job marketing separately under these names and it makes me wonder if they would not be looking to acquire more companies from the supply side rather than the distribution side. I wonder who had the vision to think they could pull that off.
Just started a book called “Anticipate – The Art of Leading By Looking Ahead”.Have not got too far but there are a few lines on the inside book cover that I’ll share:
“It boils down to one word – vision. Leaders who lacked it have often guided their companies to obsolescence and failure. The rare leaders who cultivated a strong vision have disrupted industries, created new ones, and remade the world.”
So, who’s got vision in the fastener world?