Within the last few weeks I found out that Pittsburg based Incline Equity had acquired Cleveland based AFC Holdings. To fastener people, this means that AFC of the Cincinnati area and Dell Fastener from the Pittsburgh area, both are now owned by a different holding company. Yeah, I know, we are still going to be calling on Dave and Denise and Joanne and Jen. Most likely, few things will change in the short run, and maybe even the long run. But, I’m guessing, somebody with deeper pockets now owns those fastener distributors. I recently visited the Anixter Fastener group in Glendale. They too were recently purchased by an equity firm, or holding company. Some big suppliers are in the same boat. Lindstrom has been referred to in publications as “a Harbour Group company” which suggests they are at least partly owned by a holding company. I’m sure there are probably other fastener companies with outside investors.
Long gone are the days when out industry was filled with family run fastener companies. Sure, there are still some around, but more and more you hear about these companies being bought out. It used to be where one fastener company would buy another fastener company. That happened a lot. It just seems to me that, more and more, holding companies are buying out one or several fastener companies. And, for these investment groups, the fastener companies are just one of several other unrelated businesses that they own.
I’m sure this has happened in a lot of other industries but it seems to be happening more frequently now in OUR industry. We used to talk about consolidation, but that usually meant one fastener guy buying out another fastener guy. Not so much anymore. And, the stakes seem higher. Bigger money and bigger players are dipping their toes into the water. I’d like to see an industry association group sponsor a speaker that could talk more about this and the implications of this trend.