Mike McGuire’s career in the fastener industry spans more than 50 years. Mike has worked in fastener distribution, he has been an independent fastener rep, he has runs trade shows and magazines. Candidly, Mike needs no further introduction. Here is 10 Minutes with Mike McGuire:
What is the number one problem in the fastener industry today?
For the fastener manufacturer it is pretty well known, a lack of skilled tradesmen to run the fastener producing machinery. For the fastener distributor it is a lack of fastener product knowledge for inside and outside salespeople when it comes to fastening applications and how the fasteners work. My Pet Peeve is probably a little too strong, but it is APATHY with the lack of respect to return a phone call and/or to simply state send me an email. Times are a changin’, but the successful people in the fastener industry always rely on their personal relationships with customers and suppliers most likely face to face. The other one is “He is in a meeting!” BS! Everybody is always in a meeting today! An overused bad excuse to NOT take a phone call. Another case of apathy! I have said for a few years now, if people would just return their phone calls the GDP would grow 2%!
What product trends do you see coming in the next few years?
Like from the movie “The Graduate” PLASTICS! The rapid growth of nylon (or Plastic) fasteners will continue in the near future. Popular applications are electronics and in particular wire hardness assemblies in automotive. Automotive applications are ideal for nylon because of their weight advantage over steel fasteners and resistance to the environmental elements. Second, I see more and more adhesives taking away typical fastener applications be it with tape or paste/glue. Distributors should consider adhesives as part of their product offering moving forward. Finally, a locking feature on the fasteners be it deformed material or a thread coating with a locking feature designed for the application.
You have always been supportive of the industry’s Manufacturers Reps. What role do Independent Fastener Reps play in today’s fastener industry?
Before I answer that question directly, I would like to once again recognize the BEST fastener sales representative in the history of the fastener business who we lost last week, Bob Lehman. Bob set the standard when it came to being a sales rep, but he was also an innovator when he moved West in 1980 and started a stocking fastener rep business, Pacific Warehouse Sales, a first at the time.
When Bob called on a customer it was a fun and learning experience. But better than being a Rep, Bob was a mentor to many in the fastener industry when others did not want to be bother. He set the standard we should all be measured to when it comes to helping new, young and energetic fastener people. Nobody ever did it better!
Independent fastener sales reps today are a very important part of the fastener industry! PERIOD! The benefits for suppliers and/or fastener manufacturers are well known and with the most experienced group of independent fastener sales reps today it has never been better for the industry.
Fastener distributors get to know the fasteners reps that call on you and get them involved in your business so they can perform additional services. Help solve application problems, present some live Demos on-site at the customer, adjust and manage some of your inventory levels, have training sessions with employees are just a few suggestions.
Some criticism that is meant to be constructive, reps should come together at say the IFE and discuss how they can each improve their business. Learn from others how they preform many of the standard business operations. Help other reps in non-competitive territories acquire new product lines. Do some promotional activities to advance the advantages of using reps and make known the benefits you bring to your principals and your distributor accounts. Finally, I am surprised by the number of reps that do not have a website! Need I say more?
Where do I see the fastener industry evolving from here?
In the past I used to write a Fastener Trend Report about this time of the year. It was usually very involved as I spent a fair amount of time preparing my comments. This time around I will highlight a few trends and then you should ask others this question in a few months as the fastener industry is always moving forward (we hope).
The fastener industry has historically been “Slow-Adaptors” and I believe that is still the case today. On-line selling is done by only a small percentage of distributors, but the big boys, WW Grainger, McMaster Carr, Zoro, MSC Direct and Fastenal are setting the pace and it is moving very fast forward. People ask me often who Amazon is going to buy. I have no idea, but if it should occur it will change the playing field drastically!
The history of about 50 acquisitions each of the last few years should continue in 2019, although this number will shrink in the next few years after as many of the good companies have already been acquired. Manufacturers selling direct? Sure, they have for many years and all distributors have survived the times because of the functions they perform in the market place that manufacturers or importers cannot. What I remember and have not seen in several years is the ads in the fastener trade magazines stating “We Only Sell Distributors!” Why is this? Maybe Loyalty and Trust will answer this question. The Fastener Associations should work together to aggressively promote the benefits and services distributors bring to the market place for the OEMs.
Other topics to address are, fastener consolidation, fastener buying groups, consortiums and fastener training. Tariffs are still misunderstood, specifically how they will affect ones business in the long run. How will the Dems change the landscape with taxes, health care and restrictions placed on a business? What other ways can we offer VMI programs? How can we increase our margins? How can I create new “Differential Advantages?”
Now for some wild thoughts: Who will be the first distributor to offer 3D printing to their customers; will we ever have a uniform fastener part number system; how about a list and discount program for commodity products and where will the innovation come from for our industry; is drone delivery on the horizon? Robots in the warehouse?