TS: You have been interviewed before so I’d like to try to ask you some questions that you have not already been asked. Maybe some question that I would find interesting. The success of BBI is unquestioned and your company’s growth is impressive. But I’d like to dig into some other areas and not just all about the business.
Before getting involved with Brighton Best did you have any previous experience with the fastener industry? How is it you came to target the fastener industry for acquisition and investment? What opportunities did you see that were not being addressed?
Peggy: I did not have any previous experience with the Fastener Industry. Both Jun and I worked in Management Consulting and Finance prior to BBI. The opportunity to work for Brighton-Best came from Mr. Shieh (my father). From the first day post acquisition, Brighton-Best was set on a strategy of expanding into other fasteners categories beyond Sockets as well as developing our website. We were steadfast in our strategy and was able to successfully execute on it.
TS: Initially, your father was involved with BBI but more recently it seems to be guided more by you and Jun. I had the opportunity to work with my father for several years, what was it like for you working with yours? Does he continue to be involved?
Peggy: My father continues to be heavily involved but more so on the strategic level. He mostly leaves the day to day management to Jun, myself and the entire BBI team. Family businesses have it benefits as well as challenges, but it certainly has been one of the most rewarding things I have done.
TS: And, while speaking of family, you have your own family with two children. With both you and Jun so heavily involved with BBI, how do you balance home life and work life?
Peggy: We are so incredibly lucky to have a lot of support from family and our nanny. In addition, with a great management team in place as well as a dynamic IT system, my job has actually gotten easier even as BBI continues to grow.
TS: In how many countries is there a BBI presence? Most people who will read this have a limited scope on the world fastener market. What areas of the world are most challenging to operate in and where is the greatest growth potential for BBI?
Peggy: BBI has a presence in seven (7) countries: US, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, and Brazil. I think every country has its unique challenges due to differing local laws and competitive landscapes, but in the end it is all about getting the right managers in place. You can have the best strategy in the world but you will not be able to properly execute if you don’t build and develop the right teams. Our biggest growth potential, outside of the US, would probably be Canada, Australia or Europe.
TS: During the COVID-19 pandemic we all have been challenged to conduct business differently. How has BBI been forced to adapt and what has the company learned by dealing with these challenges.
Peggy: What we learned is how important strong and transparent leadership is in times of uncertainty. We identified COVID as a major concern early on given our supply chain disruptions in China. Although we could never have imagined the level of severity it would have affected the USA and the world, we knew we had to set clear guidelines for warehouse cleanings as well as contingency plans for what would happen if one of our employees were affected with COVID. We believe having clear guidelines and being transparent about the situation gave our managers and employees a sense of control. We could not be more proud of the way our employees have stepped up in these challenging times – accepting the reality of the situation we are in and pushing forward to continue shipping and servicing our customers.
TS: BBI’s use of technology has played a large role in your ability to grow and your website has been among the very best in our industry. In the early days when you got involved with BBI did you already recognize the benefit that technology would play in making BBI and industry leader?
Peggy: Absolutely. We recognize very early on the benefits of technology and knew that it will play a huge role at BBI and within the industry. At first, it was actually harder to convince our internal team than our customers.
TS: I am currently reading a book called “The Future is Coming Faster Than You Think”. It talks about innovations in AI, 3D printing, drone transportation, and robotics. What technological advancements you see taking place in our industry? What’s next? Is Artificial Intelligence going to affect the fastener industry and how so?
Peggy: Although technology and analytics has always been a personal passion of mine, I do not see it having as much of an impact in the fastener industry. This is due to the large number of standard fasteners SKUs but all at low per unit costs. The efficiencies gained with AI, automation, and/or robotics just don’t outweigh the effort and investment dollars required at this time.
TS: There has been a lot of distributor consolidation as well as supplier consolidation in the last five or so years. What will the fastener look like in 5-10 years? And what will BBI look like in 5-10 years?
Peggy: The core goal of BBI is to help our distributors grow – not to just sell more products. As a wholesaler, we cannot succeed without our distributors succeeding. Hence, our investments into Fastener education seminars, our Vending program, and technology to simplify transactions of business and/or product diversification. The strategy of diversification has benefited BBI well and we hope to see more distributors embrace this.
TS: Last of all, tell us something about Peggy that we do not know.
Peggy: I enjoy reading autobiographies.
TS: Now, be careful with this one, but tell us something about Jun that we would not know.
Peggy: Besides running a global fastener wholesaler, Jun’s other dream is to open a restaurant serving pizza, chicken wings, and beer.
TS: Well, those are some of my favorite food groups so let him know he would have me as a customer should he ever move forward with that venture!