TS: OK, first thing first…where did the name Jay-Cee come from?
AW: The name Jay-Cee Sales came from my great grandfather Jack Clinton.
TS: Tell us more about the company history.
AW: Jay-Cee Sales was
started in 1948 by Jack Clinton in Detroit, Michigan on Grand River. The store
began as an Army/Navy supply store as well as other basic goods. Soon after the
business opened, Jack was joined by his son Louis Clinton.
Jack had a brother-in-law who was in the scrap/surplus business in Texas. He came across a surplus of various goods and fasteners, which included rivets and shipped them up to Jack. As soon as he received the shipment, he was able to sell them in no time. As business increased, Jack and Louis needed to move to a larger location with a warehouse to store their increasing inventory. In the mid 1950’s the company moved to Ferry Park in Detroit.
In the coming years business continued to grow. In 1969 Louis’s son-in-law, Cary Weitzman joined the company. Shortly thereafter, Louis’s son Michael Clinton joined the company in 1972. In 1973 Jay-Cee Sales decided to divest all of their threaded products and concentrate on rivets. Again, Jay-Cee Sales out grew its building and relocated to Farmington, Michigan in July 1, 1974.
Sadly, Jack Clinton passed away in 1980 at the age of 83. On October 20, 1980, Jay-Cee Sales was incorporated and became Jay-Cee Sales & Rivet Inc. Business thrived. The company added an addition to the warehouse in 1984 to a total of 40,000 sq. ft.
Unexpectedly, Jay-Cee Sales & Rivet was dealt a huge blow when Louis Clinton passed away in 1993 at the age of 66.
In the years that followed, Jay-Cee Sales & Rivet was joined by its 4thgeneration when Greg Weitzman (1994), Allan Weitzman (1998), Jason Clinton (2003), and Bryan Clinton (2003) entered into the family business.
TS: Most fastener people know you guys as the rivet experts. You carry just about every style of rivet. How did your company come to focus on that niche?
AW: When Jay-Cee began selling fasteners, they realized the rivet market at the time, was a lot less competitive and they knew the rivet line inside and out. Even today other fastener houses express frustration as to their lack of knowledge when it comes to rivets. Between the 8 salesmen, we have a combined 185 years of rivet sales. We pride ourselves in being the source of knowledge when it comes to rivets.
TS: And then, after getting out of the bolts and nuts business, you and your brother circle back around and get right back into the nuts, bolts, screws and other fasteners.
AW: Yeah, that’s true. In 2015 Greg
and I established a separate company, Value Fastener, LLC. Value Fastener was
designed to be an online based company, selling fasteners that did not compete
with Jay-Cee Sales like screws, nuts, and bolts. The company prospered over the
next few years, highlighting the Value Fastener brand throughout various
industries. Expansion was on the horizon and the we determined that it might be
best to be acquired by Jay-Cee Sales, which, in 2019 purchased Value Fastener
as a Jay-Cee Sales product line.
Value Fastener adds over 32,000 parts, with 4 shipping locations throughout the US and specializes in bulk packaging. Together the merger created a true fastener house that boasts one of the largest inventories of rivets and now a complete line of threaded fasteners all under one roof. Rivets can be ordered online at www.rivetsonline.com and Value Fastener host their own e-commerce store at www.valuefastener.com
TS: From our discussions I can tell your company is very customer service focused. It is important to you that you treat small customers just the same as you would handle large customers. Share with me your philosophy on customer service.
AW: Fasteners are such a commodity purchase. It’s typically one of the least expensive purchases in a production buy. We understand that and realize the purchaser, on the other end wants to get their fasteners purchased and move on to their more complex purchases. Our goal is to reply to rfqs, emails/faxes within an hour or less for standard parts. With 8 salesmen on staff, this is easily completed. Phone calls are also answered right away. The sales team members at Jay-Cee Sales are all very personable and were put into their positions for their people skills. We have a lot of customer service people for the size of our company but it’s important that the level of service we offer stands out. That $25 customer is just as valued as the $250,000 customer. They both deserve our time, attention, and customer service.
TS: You have an impressive online presence. And I know you have worked hard on your e-commerce business. Have you had a lot of success with e-commerce?
AW: We had an outside company produce our ecommerce sites (www.rivetsonline.com) and (www.ValueFastener.com) but we had a very influential hand in building it and we maintain 95% of it. We understand the way our customers shop, so having a hand in the process, it was designed by fastener people who understand how fastener customers shop. Not just by some website developer who doesn’t understand the industry. It has been successful, but nothing can compete with 2 people communicating over the phone or in person. It’s the only way to develop and maintain relationships.
TS: Jay-Cee has a lot of family involved in the business. That can be a wonderful thing and it can also present challenges. How has it gone for your company?
AW: Currently the business is run by me, Greg Weitzman, Jason Clinton and Bryan Clinton. The four of us get along well and we all have our individual roles. We’re 4th generation and the business means a lot to us. It’s not just a place of employment. It’s a legacy and we’re very excited and hopeful that we’ll have a 5th generation family member in here one day. The company has 17 employees. We all know each other’s husbands, wives and children. Everyone is family!
The biggest challenge for me and Greg was losing our father, Cary Weitzman, this past March. When someone special to you passes away, work is helpful to get your mind off of things and give yourself a mental break. But for us coming to work did the exact opposite. Every day is a reminder he’s not with us anymore. His office is still here. His desk is just the way he left it. His name is still on the payroll form. As time goes on those things trigger nice memories and funny stories. The phone calls, letters and emails about my dad still continue today. Its great hearing from customers and vendors about my dad and reinforces how lucky we are to have a family business with such great people to conduct business with.
TS: I met your dad several times and I too was a “son of” so I feel truly sorry for you and Greg. And as we both know, the best thing we can do for ourselves and in honor of those whose large shoes we try to fill is to keep on keeping on and carry on the legacy. With that in mind what do the next few years look like for Jay-Cee Sales?
AW: We’ve had strong growth over the last few years and we expect that to continue. With the new product lines we have added with Value Fasteners we’re putting some heavy focus on these lines. It has been a good venture thus far. We’re planning on hiring an outside salesperson after the first of the year. We’ve always been an “inside” sales company and this new approach is exciting and we’re eager to see what new opportunities open for us.