- What was the first year of the International Fastener Expo (previously the National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo) held in Columbus, Ohio? a. 1979 b. 1981 c. 1982 d. 1984 ANSWER: b
- What year was the first show held in Las Vegas? a. 1996 b. 1997 c. 1998 d. 2000 ANSWER: b
- What does RoHS stand for? a. Restriction of Hazardous Substances b. Restriction of High Standards c. Really Obvious Hard Stuff d. Restriction of Harmful Substances ANSWER: a
- Who is the director of Engineering Technology for the IFI? a. Carmen Vertullo b. Salim Brahimi c. Dan Walker d. Rob Lapointe ANSWER: b
- For a couple years, the Fastener Show traveled and was known as the Fastener Show East. What other cities has the IFE show been held in other than Columbus and Las Vegas (choose two)? a. Orlando b. Baltimore. c. Cleveland d. Kansas City ANSWERS: a & b
- IFE has been held in four different locations in Las Vegas. Which location has it NOT been held at: a. Paris/Bally’s b. Sands Convention c. Westgate/Las Vegas d. The Mirage e. Mandalay Bay ANSWER: d
- When do metric thread designations require the thread pitch to be called out? a. When coarse threads are used b. When fine threads are used. c. All the time ANSWER: b
- What is the thread tolerance for all metric fasteners except PC 12.9 socket screws? a. 6g external, 6H internal b. 2A/2B c. 5g6g ANSWER: a
- Back when the show was held in Columbus, the central gathering location was on the 2nd floor of what gathering spot? a. Hilton b. Hyatt c. Char Bar d. Varsity Club e. Larry’s ANSWER: b
- What does ISO stand for? a. International Organization for Standardization b. Industrial Standards Originale c. Industrial Standards Organization ANSWER: c
- Which individual was inducted into the National Fastener Hall of Fame in 2016? a. Bruce Wheeler b. Bill Derry c. Robbie Gilchrist d. Bob Sachs ANSWER: a
- We all know ASTM International as an international standards organization that develops and publishes technical standards. What did ASTM stand for (the full name as it was previously know)? a. Agreed Systems for Testing Materials b. American Society for Testing and Materials c. American System for Testing Materials d. American Society for Threaded Materials ANSWER: b
- Who is the current President of the Young Fastener Professionals (YFP)? a. Baron Yarborough b. Jake Glaser c. Jessi Solt d. John Radel ANSWER: d……NAH, JUST KIDDING……ANSWER: b
- Who was the founder of the association Young Fastener Professionals? a. Baron Yarborough b. Ryan Kertis c. Bryan Wheeler d. Morgan Wilson ANSWER: b
- True or False – Generally, the strength of steel increases as hardness increases? ANSWER: TRUE
- The most common fastener failure modes are: a. Tensile or shear overload, fatigue failure, and thread stripping b. Hydrogen Embrittlement and corrosion c. Over tightening and torsional overload ANSWER: a
- Name the two people who started WIFI (Women in the Fastener Industry) a. Mary Lou Alderman b. Rosa Hearn c. Joanne Bialas d. Pam Berry e. Cris Young ANSWERS: a & d
- What year was the first broadcast of Fully Threaded Radio? a. 2009 b. 2010 c. 2011 d. 2012 ANSWER: b
- Nylon patch, pellet and strip locking elements achieve their effectiveness through: a. Adhesive reaction with the nylon and the metal b. Friction between the nylon and the metal c. Metal to metal friction at the points opposite from the elements ANSWER: c
- Steel and alloy fasteners become susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement if hardness is above: a. HRC 36 b. Grade 5 c. HRC 39 ANSWER: c
- Who is the current President of NFDA? a. Doug Ruggles b. Kelly Cole c. Adam Derry d. Kevin Miller ANSWER: c
- The following fasteners are not susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement: a. Grade 5 and Grade 8 bolts b. ASTM A574 socket head cap screw and PC 12.9 bolts c. Split lock washers ANSWER: a
- When matching the nut strength to the bolt strength: a. The bolt must be stronger than the nut b. The nut’s specified proof load strength must be equal to or greater than the bolt’s tensile strength c. The nut and the bolt must come from the same supplier ANSWER: b
- Who is the current President of Women in the Fastener Industry (WIFI)? a. Rosa Hearn b. Jackie Ventura c. Jennifer Kushnir d. Taryn Goodman ANSWER: c
- According to ASTM fastener specifications, the party responsible for the fastener is: a. The organization that supplies the fastener to the purchaser b. The end user c. The fastener manufacturer ANSWER: a
- What does the .9 mean in PC 12.9 ? a. The yield strength is the .9 x the tensile strength b. The yield strength is 900 MPa c. The tensile strength for larger fasteners is 900 MPa ANSWER: a
- Inch size commercial Dowel Pins are covered by: a. There is no specification for dowel pins b. ASTM B18.3 c. ASTM B18.8.2 d. ASME B18.8.1 ANSWER: c
- The specification for inch prevailing torque lock nuts is: a. SAE J995 b. ASTM A563 c. ASME B18.16.6 d. ASME B18.2.2 ANSWER: c
- Inch Sockets Head Cap Screw made of alloy steel covered by which specifications: a. The IFI b. ISO 898-1 c. ASME B18.2.1 and ASTM A193 d. ASME B18.3, ASTM A574 and ASTM A193 ANSWER: d
- Materials for stainless steel metric socket products are covered in: a. ASME B18.3 b. ASTM A574M c. ISO 3506-1 ANSWER: c
At the end of the IFE Meet & Greet, we co-hosted a Virtual Fastener Bash & Trivia Contest with Cris Young of Fastener News Desk. Celebrity guest, Carmen Vertulo, asked the questions and prizes were donated by myself, Fastener News Desk, Volt Industrial Products, LINK Magazine and Solution Industries. Participants connected to the contest through their phones and answered the questions in real time and we immediately knew the results at the end of the contest. It went off better than I might have expected and was actually a lot of fun. For those who missed the quiz, here are the questions that were asked by Carmen. Later I plan to post a copy with the answers highlighted.
- What was the first year of the International Fastener Expo (previously the National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo) held in Columbus, Ohio? a. 1979 b. 1981 c. 1982 d. 1984
- What year was the first show held in Las Vegas? a. 1996 b. 1997 c. 1998 d. 2000
- What does RoHS stand for? a. Restriction of Hazardous Substances b. Restriction of High Standards c. Really Obvious Hard Stuff d. Restriction of Harmful Substances
- Who is the director of Engineering Technology for the IFI? a. Carmen Vertullo b. Salim Brahimi c. Dan Walker d. Rob Lapointe
- For a couple years, the Fastener Show traveled and was known as the Fastener Show East. What other cities has the IFE show been held in other than Columbus and Las Vegas (choose two)? a. Orlando b. Baltimore. c. Cleveland d. Kansas City
- IFE has been held in four different locations in Las Vegas. Which location has it NOT been held at: a. Paris/Bally’s b. Sands Convention c. Westgate/Las Vegas d. The Mirage e. Mandalay Bay
- When do metric thread designations require the thread pitch to be called out? a. When coarse threads are used b. When fine threads are used. c. All the time
- What is the thread tolerance for all metric fasteners except PC 12.9 socket screws? a. 6g external, 6H internal b. 2A/2B c. 5g6g
- Back when the show was held in Columbus, the central gathering location was on the 2nd floor of what gathering spot? a. Hilton b. Hyatt c. Char Bar d. Varsity Club e. Larry’s
- What does ISO stand for? a. International Organization for Standardization b. Industrial Standards Originale c. Industrial Standards Organization
- Which individual was inducted into the National Fastener Hall of Fame in 2016? a. Bruce Wheeler b. Bill Derry c. Robbie Gilchrist d. Bob Sachs
- We all know ASTM International as an international standards organization that develops and publishes technical standards. What did ASTM stand for (the full name as it was previously know)? a. Agreed Systems for Testing Materials b. American Society for Testing and Materials c. American System for Testing Materials d. American Society for Threaded Materials
- Who is the current President of the Young Fastener Professionals (YFP)? a. Baron Yarborough b. Jake Glaser c. Jessi Solt d. John Radel
- Who was the founder of the association Young Fastener Professionals? a. Baron Yarborough b. Ryan Kertis c. Bryan Wheeler d. Morgan Wilson
- True or False – Generally, the strength of steel increases as hardness increases?
- The most common fastener failure modes are: a. Tensile or shear overload, fatigue failure, and thread stripping b. Hydrogen Embrittlement and corrosion c. Over tightening and torsional overload
- Name the two people who started WIFI (Women in the Fastener Industry) a. Mary Lou Alderman b. Rosa Hearn c. Joanne Bialas d. Pam Berry e. Cris Young
- What year was the first broadcast of Fully Threaded Radio? a. 2009 b. 2010 c. 2011 d. 2012
- Nylon patch, pellet and strip locking elements achieve their effectiveness through: a. Adhesive reaction with the nylon and the metal b. Friction between the nylon and the metal c. Metal to metal friction at the points opposite from the elements
- Steel and alloy fasteners become susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement if hardness is above: a. HRC 36 b. Grade 5 c. HRC 39
- Who is the current President of NFDA? a. Doug Ruggles b. Kelly Cole c. Adam Derry d. Kevin Miller
- The following fasteners are not susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement: a. Grade 5 and Grade 8 bolts b. ASTM A574 socket head cap screw and PC 12.9 bolts c. Split lock washers
- When matching the nut strength to the bolt strength: a. The bolt must be stronger than the nut b. The nut’s specified proof load strength must be equal to or greater than the bolt’s tensile strength c. The nut and the bolt must come from the same supplier
- Who is the current President of Women in the Fastener Industry (WIFI)? a. Rosa Hearn b. Jackie Ventura c. Jennifer Kushnir d. Taryn Goodman
- According to ASTM fastener specifications, the party responsible for the fastener is: a. The organization that supplies the fastener to the purchaser b. The end user c. The fastener manufacturer
- What does the .9 mean in PC 12.9 ? a. The yield strength is the .9 x the tensile strength b. The yield strength is 900 MPa c. The tensile strength for larger fasteners is 900 MPa
- Inch size commercial Dowel Pins are covered by: a. There is no specification for dowel pins b. ASTM B18.3 c. ASTM B18.8.2 d. ASME B18.8.1
- The specification for inch prevailing torque lock nuts is: a. SAE J995 b. ASTM A563 c. ASME B18.16.6 d. ASME B18.2.2
- Inch Sockets Head Cap Screw made of alloy steel covered by which specifications: a. The IFI b. ISO 898-1 c. ASME B18.2.1 and ASTM A193 d. ASME B18.3, ASTM A574 and ASTM A193
- Materials for stainless steel metric socket products are covered in: a. ASME B18.3 b. ASTM A574M c. ISO 3506-1
My most recent Kiplinger letter had an interesting article about how the current administration is looking at Vietnam as the next target of trade retaliation. More specifically, it says “The U.S. Trade Representative has opened an investigation into Vietnam’s trade practices under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the same law used to justify the administration’s retaliatory tariffs against China”
According to this article, the U.S. trade deficit with Vietnam is now America’s fifth-largest.
But here is the kicker – it says from 2018 to 2019 the U.S. trade deficit with Vietnam increased by 40% from $39 billion to nearly $56 billion, versus a 1% increased from 2017 to 2018. I could be mistaken but that looks to me like somebody is just moving production to avoid tariffs, no?
So, I’ll call on NFDA members and the import community of the fastener industry (because as a member of NFDA you get a subscription to Kiplinger). It appears a lot of stuff coming from China just switched over and is not coming from Vietnam to avoid the tariffs. Is that happening with fasteners? I am not personally involved in importing fastener products from China and I’m really just curious.
TS: It is pretty unusual these days to have a new fastener company opening up. On the contrary, we seem to see more consolidation and companies disappearing. So, it is kind of inspiring to see you jump in to this new endeavor. Why did you start up Fair Wind Fasteners?
Rob: I started Fair Wind Fasteners for a few different reasons, but principally because finding good quality marine grade fasteners is getting harder and harder to do these days and I wanted to solve that problem. Years ago I was working on my classic wooden boat and fell in to the trap of buying the cheapest silicon bronze wood screws that I could find. Several twisted shanks and stripped heads later I realized that cheap also meant chintzy, and the “silicon bronze” I had bought wasn’t actually silicon bronze. The market is full of imitations, especially when buying online. It’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff from merely a picture.
Sailing and boating in general is something I’m quite passionate about so being able to work with fellow boaters, shipwrights, and home boat builders is a perk of the business for me as well. While I’m new to the fastener industry, the marine industry is one that I know well and have a life long love affair with. When customers call it’s not just about supplying the fasteners they need, but it’s also an opportunity for me to talk about boat building and swap a few sea stories.
TS: OK, you need to indulge me for a minute before we talk about fasteners. You said you sailed all over the world before slowing down to start Fair Winds Fasteners. Let me live vicariously through you for a moment and tell me about your sailing around the world adventures.
Rob: I did. I have enough nautical miles under my belt to round the globe nearly 9 times and have spent the better part of the last 15 years at sea. I’ve always loved being on the water, and was lucky enough to turn it in to a career. One of my first jobs as a kid was working on the fuel dock at Toledo Beach Marina in Michigan where I met sailors at the local yacht club that would take me out to do some regatta racing. That job turned in to being a Mate on a Walleye charter fishing boat, which progressed to a few yacht deliveries, and eventually progressed to me being the Captain on a 160′ sailing ketch travelling the world with 8 full-time yacht crew. I worked as a Captain for several billionaires, running their private yachts for them. Have you ever seen the show “Below Decks?” Like that – except without the drama and with far more fun and adventure.
TS: OK, thanks for that, so now let’s talk about fasteners again. How big of a market do you think there is for the types of fasteners you plan to sell?
Rob: My target market is very niche. I deal in marine grade fasteners – principally in silicon bronze but also in other alloys that work well on the water such as 316 Stainless, Monel, Inconel, and even Titanium. As niche as it is, my customer base is very loyal and make their purchases based on reputation. It’s not all about price in the boat building world. The yachts these craftsmen are building sometimes take years to complete. They pour their hearts and souls in to the construction and simply have no time or patience for junk fasteners that don’t meet the quality standards of the yacht that is being built. Saving $3 only to find out 5 years later that the fasteners have corroded because they aren’t the correct alloy just isn’t worth it. Boat guys and gals know that, and while the market is very niche I want to capture a portion through the loyalty and trust that is built over time by supplying the best fasteners available.
But to answer your question a bit more directly: I simply don’t know how big the total market is. I’ve run a google search and see I can buy a marine fastener market industry report for $3,500, but I think I’ll pass on that for now! I know that it’s a single digit number that starts with “B”, but I’m not concerned with it. What I do know is that the shipyards and boat builders that I have spoken to are ecstatic to learn that they now have an honest supplier they can rely upon for their non-ferrous fasteners. There are plenty out there.
TS: Is this your full time job or are you doing other things to supplement your income while you get your company started?
Rob: Fair Wind Fasteners is my full time job alongside a marine parts business that I’ve bought as well. The parts business deals in hard-to-find boating parts, and when thinking about expanding my inventory with that business I just couldn’t move off of the idea of marine grade fasteners. My experience in the marine industry taught me that there was a real need out there for quality fasteners. Well, that one little idea of expanding my product lines eventually turned in to a company of it’s own. Regardless, I am spending all day every day finding parts for the marine industry whether it’s the impeller for a rare 1968 Mercury outboard or fin neck carriage bolts in 655 silicon bronze.
TS: Do you still own your boat and get out so sail on a more local level or did you retire your captain’s hat?
Rob: Having moved ashore near the wrong end of summer I’ve held off on acquiring another boat to focus full time on my business for now. But after this coming winter has passed I’ll take the plunge and acquire something to scoot around on the beautiful Narragansett bay right here in my backyard of Newport, Rhode Island. Maybe your readers can help because I can’t decide: a vintage Chris Craft or a sailing catboat (wood of course)? For now I am doing a bit of yacht racing on other people’s boats, which is great because other people get to “Break Out Another Thousand” when the inevitable boat problems arise and I still get to feel the wind in my hair and trim a sail or two.
TS: I mentioned to you that the fastener industry has another former ship Captain and that is Morgan Rudolph who is a rep up in New England working with his father Rick Rudolph at Rudolph & Associates. Maybe we can get the two of you together to put together some fastener industry cruises for members of the industry.
Rob: I’d be more than pleased to meet Captain Morgan. I’m sure we could break out a bottle of rum (but not that spiced stuff that his name resembles, proper rum)! There are actually a good handful of fastener industry people here in New England, and I would be happy to meet all of them. Having just started the business, forming contacts and simply letting people know I exist is half the battle. For that matter, if anyone wants to get in touch to talk about fasteners (or boats, or rum) I encourage them to get in touch.
That last suggestion of yours about putting together cruises for industry members: Are you trying to arrange a free boat ride?
TS: You caught me, I’m not going to lie. A boat ride sounds great! But let’s continue with one more question. You are pretty new in the industry but do you have any observations you’d like to share?
Rob: Haha, no problem. Never hurts to ask. So, I touched on this a little bit already, but my greatest observation is that quality control is difficult when sourcing from overseas. It seems like many overseas manufacturers like to cut corners on quality and that’s disappointing to the end user. Further to that, it also seems like finding a good range of quality fasteners here in the United States is getting more and more difficult for a small guy like me. The big manufacturers seem to be merging, and with those mergers come higher minimum order quantities and less time to deal with smaller orders. There are plenty of domestic manufacturers out there that I know can do the job and deliver an excellent product, but when the MOQ is 25,000 pieces of each size and variation it’s difficult to get started with them.
However, when I do find and eventually stock the quality of fasteners that I require, I find the demand from the marine industry to be high!
Thanks for the opportunity to do this interview, I look forward to your reader’s comments and to connecting with some of them in the future.
Owner, Fair Wind Fasteners
TS: I’m from your area and have known of your company my entire career. But for those people new to the industry or maybe from another geographic area, give me a quick company background.
Charlie: 1947, my grandfather, Charles L. Kerr, and a few other associates, revived a dormant machine shop and named the new company C. L. Kerr Industries, Inc. This company ran turret lathes and produced small lots of larger diameter fasteners turned from bar stock.
A second business, Lakeside Machine Products Company, organized in 1943, ran single spindle Brown & Sharpe Automatic Screw Machines producing smaller parts in larger lots sizes. Because Lakeside Machine Products and C. L. Kerr Industries had different types of manufacturing equipment, they regularly purchased and resold each other’s products. This eventually led to the consolidation of the two companies into Kerr Lakeside Industries, Inc. as of July 1, 1948. Seventy-Two years later we are a fourth generation family business.
In 1970 we purchased our first cold header, a National 1000-5 (1-1/8” max thread diameter). Over the next five to seven years we added two National Boltmakers, an 8L4 (1/2” max. thread diameter) and a 1012 Boltmaker (3/4” max thread diameter). In the early 1990’s we added 2 National FX24L headers (5/16” max. thread diameter).
We started out as a screw machine shop, and today while we still run that type of equipment, cold heading standard Hex Socket Screws and related make to print specials is what our reputation is based on.
TS: Your company is a family business and has been for a long time. You worked for a long time with your father and now you have your son working alongside of you. Care to jump in and share some thoughts or experiences on the family dynamic?
Charlie: First let me state I never worked with my father, I worked for him. Big difference. My dad really liked running the business and he was responsible for building the company into what it is today. But as he aged he refused to step back, slow down, or delegate. This created a very stressful situation for me. The pace of doing business was getting faster and my dad just could not keep up. He became a bottle neck for everything he demanded to be involved with. This did not threaten the viability of the company, but it did make for difficult moments especially when customers were kept waiting for answers on routine inquiries. While this was going on at the office, members of the family who had nothing to with Kerr Lakeside Inc. other than being related to us, thought that Dick’s ability to go in every day was great. Had I done anything to push my dad aside, I would have been excommunicated from the family. Being able to walk in the door every day is not the same making a productive contribution to the operation. I am not the first person to deal with a less than easy management succession and I won’t be the last.
When Alex joined the company several years ago I made a commitment to him he would not have to stand in my shadow. I never make commitments I’m not 100% sure I will keep and we’ve made this management transition successfully. Our next big milestone will be Kerr Lakeside’s 75th Anniversary Celebration scheduled for May or June, 2023. Save the date!
TS: I am sure you have the opportunity to give advice to your son Alex on a weekly, if not daily basis. What advice do you have for the younger people who might have 5 years or less in our industry?
Charlie: I rarely offer Alex unsolicited advice. My dad was always giving me advice, actually instructions he expected me to follow. That was his way of making sure I knew he was calling the shots. I am still active in the business, but I have relinquished control of day-to-day functions to Alex.
Before joining the business, Alex worked as a commercial airline pilot and before joining the airlines he was a flight instructor with the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota. His skills as a pilot and instructor transfer very nicely to our operation. He has the ability to solve problems and at the same time is comfortable allowing others to solve problems. As far as advice for people who have entered our industry in the last 5 years; be patient and don’t expect instant gratification. There are a lot of fastener industry people currently in senior management positions who got started packing boxes, driving delivery trucks, or running machines. The path into management today is different for several reasons but the newer members of our industry need to realize many of the successful leaders in this industry got to where they are by learning the business from the ground up.
TS: You are still involved with several industry based organizations and have a long history with the North Coast Fastener Association. What are your thoughts on industry organizations and the role they have played for you and your business?
Charlie: The short version of the answer is this; had Kerr Lakeside Inc. never belonged to any industry associations we would be out of business and that would have happened a very long time ago. Starting in the 1970’s when I joined the company on a full time basis we have been confronted with a very long list of challenges that failure to conquer would be disastrous. An obvious one is the Fastener Quality Act (introduced as HR 3000 in July, 1989) and related things such as third party testing lab accreditation and ISO Certification. Absent active participation in IFI, ASTM, ANSI/ASME, and NCFA Kerr Lakeside Inc. would not have been able to deal with this issue. When it comes to things the government does to regulate your business, if you are not at the table, you are on the menu. All industry associations have some governmental affairs involvement. This is a very valuable benefit of membership.
Before the FQA, fastener manufacturers had to integrate statistical quality control techniques (SPC) in the plant at the point of production. SPC wasn’t new, but back in the days before affordable multifunction pocket calculators, slide rules were the prevalent tool for doing math. Under those conditions, SPC was very cumbersome and the most economic quality control practice was in-process inspection and post production final inspection using sampling plans like MIL-I-105 that provided for acceptable quality levels (AQL). In other words it was OK to ship out of spec parts as long as there weren’t too many of them. Try that today.
In the early 1980’s, Statistical Process Control, a prevention driven system versus in-process and post production inspection which is detection driven, became the law of the land for heading and screw machine shops. I flunked out of statistics 101 in college, so we had a very serious problem to deal with. Our company’s membership in the Precision Machined Products Association (then known as National Screw Machine Products Association) gave our company access to SPC training that saved us from extinction.
I took a long time to make an important point; membership and actively participating in trade or professional associations is a mission critical activity. I want to go back to a previous question about advice for some of the less senior members of our industry. “You earn your paycheck while you are at work. You earn raises and consideration for promotion as a result of what you do when you are not at work.” Taking classes at a local community college to stay current on generic skills like creating sophisticated spreadsheets would be one example of doing something outside of work to enhance your value to the people you are employed by. Industry specific skills can easily and affordably be augmented through participation in programs offered by the various industry associations. These groups are very valuable resources, take advantage of them.
TS: For a lot of companies, continued growth and increased sales is a benchmark or a measuring stick of success. For others, profitability is the goal rather than just growth for growth’s sake. How has Kerr Lakeside navigated that urge to grow with determining what is best for the company and the workers?
Charlie: First, I am a very debt averse person. There is no getting around borrowing money to add new machines and make other improvements to keep the operation efficient and competitive but I’m not one of those people who is comfortable going deep into debt hoping for the best. Our growth has been gradual compared to some other businesses but it has been sustained. Growing too fast might look good in the moment, but many of the fastest growing companies 20 years ago are not around today.
Another business philosophy of mine is to avoid deviating from core competencies. We are a precision machining and cold heading shop. We are good at both processes and do a fair amount of secondary machining on near-net-shaped cold headed blanks. The two processes are different but we have been successful at “merging” them under one roof.
TS: What are your biggest opportunities as a domestic manufacturer?
Charlie: I might be wrong, but I think three years from now North American manufacturers will look back at Covid-19 say it was the best thing that happened for business since China started capturing our work 30 years ago. Inexpensive components to purchase became very costly when the supply of them was interrupted starting in March, 2020. We are already seeing a surge in RFQs for parts currently being sourced in China. There are a number of ways to tell the part is being made in China, but the raw material specification is usually the most obvious. The Chinese use many steel grades that are not produced in North America unless you want to order 800,000 pounds.
TS: What are your biggest challenges as a domestic manufacturer of fasteners?
Charlie: Getting new blood interested in pursuing a career in our industry. This problem is not unique to fastener manufacturers. Every business that brings raw material into the building and sends that material through some process to convert it into a finished product has this problem. The size of the talent pool is the single biggest constraint to taking full advantage of the opportunities created by re-shoring parts that went to China and other low labor cost countries.
TS: How does a long-standing manufacturing company integrate new technology into its operation?
Charlie: The answer to this question depends on the nature of the technology. If we are talking about advances in production technology, the supplier of the technology, usually a machine tool builder, will facilitate the integration with training and other support services. Since the early 1980’s when CNC lathes and machining centers became less costly and easier to use followed by CNC enhancements to heading equipment, the machine tool builders recognized that the smaller shops collectively would be destinations for far more machines than the mega OEMs like an automotive plant. Smaller plants do not have the resources of the bigger ones, so the machine tool builders supplied support to go with the hardware. Pretty simple and straight forward.
Technology integration for office automation and management information systems is not as simple. I can’t speak for how other companies in our industry addressed this but our approach has been primitive. We are in the process of migrating from two software systems (ERP is one system, Distribution is the other) into one. The software vendor gave us a list of several of their customers in our industry. We called everybody on the list and we able to visit a few in the area. We received positive reviews of the program and vender’s support so we went with them. This is pretty much the same method we used back in the mid 1980’s when we settled on the distribution software. It was being used by several customers and competitors and everybody liked it so we went with it. Pretty much the same story ten years later when we put the ERP system in.
TS: How hard would it be to start a fastener manufacturing facility from scratch today?
Charlie: Assuming you wanted to start a cold heading shop with the idea of producing and stocking a full line of common standard sizes, absent an unlimited supply of cash, next to impossible.
You need production machinery, tooling, raw material inventory, finished goods inventory, QC equipment, support machines for tool room & maintenance, packaging equipment and materials, material handling items like cranes, lift trucks, and tote bins. Then you need a spacious building with a good roof and very thick concrete floors to house everything. You will also need customers to buy what you produce and you need the expertise to produce what you offer. The barrier to entry in this industry is high. If somebody is serious about getting into fastener manufacturing, acquiring an existing shop or two would be far less painful.
TS: Where is this industry heading? Private equity and consolidation are more prevalent than ever and probably is not going to go backwards. What does the future look like?
Charlie: Hard to say. I get this Magazine called Smart Business. The most recent issue dedicated a lot of space to M&A under the Headline “Thaw In Ice Cold M&A Market?” The focus was pretty generic (not industry specific) but there are groups with money looking to buy businesses. If reshoring is for real and I think it is, fastener manufacturers along with other metal working companies could be targeted for acquisition. You might see some smaller companies in our industry merge to reduce redundant overhead costs and gain other benefits that come with consolidation. In my opinion a smaller number of larger companies is not a positive circumstance. Competition results in a better outcome for all interested parties. Consolidation reduces competition for customers, and employees. The more choices a customer has, the quality of the product and service will be better. Fewer choices result in mediocrity or worse.
A few parting thoughts regarding M&A. If a party with serious interest in buying your business approaches you, keep in mind, what makes your company valuable to them is not what you have done with the business but what they expect to do with your business if they buy it. With reshoring in mind, if the interested party thinks they can double the sales of the company in three years, they will be willing to pay a premium over a party that would be satisfied maintaining the status quo. There are many methodologies used to estimate a company’s value. The seller may use a different method than the buyer and if the different methods yield a wide gap in valuations, a deal will likely not happen. Bottom line, a business is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. If you are thinking about putting your business on the market, the more prospective buyers the better. I’m not suggesting you arrange a bidding war between multiple parties, but if you are only involved with one suitor, you will likely leave money on the table.
TS: Tell us a couple things about Charlie Kerr that we don’t know from other interviews you have done.
Charlie: The reason there is a penny shortage is because around 500 lbs. of them are in my bedroom closet. I collect Wheat Pennies and the rest are in a five-gallon water bottle. If you see me picking pennies up off the sidewalk it’s because I’m looking for Wheat Pennies. I have several that over 100 years old.
I consider analog clocks (clocks with hands) powered by weights or springs employing a pendulum are the most fascinating machines ever built. Anybody who has ever been to my house or office will notice a have clocks everywhere. Punctuality is important to me but that’s not why I collect clocks. Once I find a nice grandfather clock, I’ll consider the collection complete.
Note from TS:
I have a regular column in Fastener Technology International (FTI) magazine, called 10 Minutes with the Traveling Salesman, which can be read online at www.fastenertech.com. Subscriptions to FTI, print and digital editions, are free-of-charge for fastener manufacturers, distributors and users as well as suppliers to the industry.”
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!
TS: For such a youthful guy it is incredible that you have been with the same fastener company, Metric & Multistandard, for 42 years (give or take). That is almost unheard of, especially today. So, let’s talk a bit about how you got started and the path that has led to you being the National Sales Manager of Metric & Multistandard.
Rich: Between my sophomore and junior year in college a family member asked if I needed a summer job and since I answered the phone (I have three other brothers)…I took it. Started in the warehouse and told the manager that I would find someone to work when I went back to school and jump back after my junior year. The manager liked me, so he told the owners I might be someone to hire after graduation, so they flew me to NY to interview for a sales job at MMCC (summer of 1980). They offered me a job on that trip, so going back for my senior year with a job in hand felt pretty good. Worked in sales for about 5 years, then became the assistant branch manager in 1985 (I think), when the manager of the Burr Ridge branch retired in 1996, I was given that job. Became National Sales Mgr. in 2007 and haven’t looked back!!!
TS: And you are still very actively involved at Metric & Multistandard. You handle a lot of national accounts and are always in attendance at the trade show. You have good energy. What keeps you going at this pace?
Rich: It’s always good to travel to a fun destinations. Vegas, Orlando, Long Beach, Denver, Ohio… Vegas is always fun, since I can cover two vices (golf, gambling) in one location. I know there are more vices there but let’s stick with those two. I also like hanging with people in the fastener industry. I’ve met people from all over the US, Canada, Mexico along with Europe & Far East. I have made some very good personal friends through the industry.
TS: Talk a little about the management team at Metric & Multistandard. I know it has been a family operation for years and still continues to be.
Rich: When I originally started there were three families who owned Metric & Multi, then in 2007 one of the families was bought out. The Peske & Hacaj families are on the 2nd generation of ownership and I have a great relationship with both. Me being in IL and the owners in NY could also be a reason I’ve lasted this long.
We also own a company in Germany (MCG-Metric Components Germany) who supplies us with product throughout Europe for items like, cutting tools, wrenches, pins and harder to find metric items. I’ve taken a few trips to Hamburg to visit our team, and travel around Germany to visit some of their suppliers. They send weekly air freights and 2-3 sea containers a month, so we can give our customers that outstanding customer service. Our management team in the US is also very strong, with most managers being at Metric & Multi from 20 to 40 years, which tells you it’s a very good company to work for…
TS: Let’s talk about the metric market overall. You have seen it from when most people did not know what a DIN spec was to where almost every company has some metric offering. What have you seen change in the metric market and what changes have you seen at Metric & Multistandard?
Rich: When I first started you could count on one hand the number of distributors/imports who sold metric…now like you said, everyone gets a call for something metric sooner or later. Biggest changes would be technology…when I first started we didn’t have a computer and we’d have to check stock by going to the warehouse to physically checking stock. Another change is DIN vs. ISO. DIN is being replaced by ISO slowly but surely and the transition, albeit slow, is happening for most of the metric items we see.
TS: You have been involved with the Midwest Fastener Association and was president for a couple terms. And you attend a lot of other associations events on behalf of your company. What changes do you notice in fastener associations across the country?
Rich: The different associations would have local tabletop shows or conferences which I was invited to attend as our company representative. And since we have five locations across the US we belonged to a lot of different groups. Lucky for me, most of them had golf included, which you know, would be hard for me to pass up. Now with Covid a lot of the associations are doing Zoom meeting, which I’ve attended and seem to be a big hit.
TS: What are the biggest changes in the industry you have seen over the years and, in particular over the last few years.
Rich: Acquisition of companies being bought out to form larger/stronger companies, which gives those companies a bigger variety of products/services to offer. Having an online presence should be a no brainer. Newer/younger people to our industry don’t want to call for stock checks & pricing, they want to see it on your website, then send the order directly to your computer.
TS: What’s the future of our industry look like in your estimation?
Rich: The fastener industry is very strong. We need to make sure the next generation jumps in with both feet and develop those professional relationships with people, not just become robots emailing back & forth. They need to get out to shows and conferences to meet people they deal with on a daily basis
TS: What is something that none of us know about Rich Cavoto?
Rich: MMCC – golf, ping-pong, dart, bocce ball, Texas hold’em CHAMP – 10 years running…maybe longer!!
TS: It has to have been a tough few months for IFE and you in particular as you had to postpone the Fastener Show for 2020. I know you came under some pressure to cancel this year’s show but I’m guessing it is not so simple to just pull that plug. What can you share with us about that whole process?
Morgan: Several factors went into making the decision and although it is clear now, this was a challenging situation. We had participants that were urging us to cancel and then others that wanted to move forward. Safety is and always will be the priority. As we continually assessed the situation and developed safety protocols, we still needed to ensure our participants felt safe attending the show. Our registration stats were a good way of gauging this, in addition to confirming an exhibitor to attendee ratio that met expectations. Add in local and global travel restrictions, considerations for postponement, and you get the idea…
TS: You have set the date for the show in 2021 and it’s on my calendar. Do you have even higher expectations for next year’s show with people having skipped a year?
Morgan: It’s tough to predict what’s going to happen during this time of uncertainty and I wish I could say that we expect a larger event in terms of overall attendance. However, I think it could take some time for the event industry to make a full recovery. It will also depend on how much longer this pandemic continues and when a vaccine becomes available. One thing I do know is that building relationships is a crucial aspect in this industry and from what we are hearing, many are currently missing that face to face interaction.
TS: Are there any other new ideas you are working on for the 2021 show that you can share with us? Speakers or interactive events?
Morgan: At the moment, we are focused on creating a virtual event for later in the year – one that will allow the community to feel connected despite not meeting in person. Our goal will be to integrate one of the key elements into next year’s live show. It is no doubt that B2B events as we know them will likely look different in the future and we will continue to adapt as needed.
TS: Just for those who are not that familiar with Emerald Expositions, approximately how many shows does Emerald hold per year? Do you work on any other events?
Morgan: Emerald currently manages 142 events across North America. My direct team and I are lucky enough to be dedicated solely to IFE.
TS: How did you get started with IFE?
Morgan: Following Emerald’s acquisition of IFE, or NIFMSE at the time, the company was seeking someone with experience in the industry. I had previously worked for a wide range Fastener Distributor in Southern California for about 9 years. It made for a great transition and it’s been a great experience thus far.
TS: And I have been told that Emerald is one of the largest “customers” in terms of booking hotels for trade shows. Is that accurate?
Morgan: I am not sure where we stand regarding hotel bookings, but Emerald is in the top 10 trade show organizers in the world.
TS: While the IFE show is the one near and dear to our hearts, you have exposure to many other trade shows. And I am sure that there are many that are much larger than ours. Can you share any of the things that other industries do at trade shows that would be interesting to IFE attendees?
Morgan: Speaking about Emerald’s portfolio of events, each show’s offering differs from the next – this is because each show’s audience and their needs are so unique. For instance, exhibitors at ASD, one of Emerald’s largest trade shows, come to the show expecting to go back with direct orders from buyers across the country. A number of our other shows are education-focused, since this is the need of the hour for their attendees. However, if I was to speak about trade shows in general, we are seeing an increasing focus on digital. At IFE, we try to keep our ear to the ground and continually adapt based on what the Fastener community needs while making sure that we keep up with the times. Live shows are very important to us, but we are also working to provide more digital tools for our audience to connect more easily throughout the year.
TS: So, we have no in person show on the schedule for 2020. Are there any plans for IFE to reach out to the industry in the absence of an in person trade show?
Morgan: Yes, we are excited to release details on our online event coming up this November. It took us some time to find the right platform for IFE and we are confident to be bringing our audience a valued opportunity to connect this year. The focus of our event will be high-level networking and the capability to make new connections. We are going with an established and proven system that utilizes AI to automatically match our participants across all levels. This was important as we recognize the unique dynamic within IFE, where it’s not uncommon for exhibitors to do business with one another. We are planning to have some education aspects and other virtual features.
Below is a “Buyer’s Guide to the China Fastener Show (Online)” that was sent to me by the show management. I am sharing here for a few reasons. First, if you are interested in checking out a Virtual Trade Show and have not participated in one before, this is a good opportunity and registration is free. The show runs several days and you can log on whenever it is convenient for you. Secondly, STAFDA has already announced they plan to hold an online virtual show and IFE (Vegas Show) has hinted that they will be doing one as well. You might not do any business in China but you might want to check out this show just to see how one works. Again, you can do it at anytime from August 10-18, 2020 because the show appears to run 24/7 and goes on for several days.
Wurth held a virtual show a few weeks ago and had several of the their suppliers “set up” booths and the employees of Wurth were able to meet with some of their key suppliers. But that was an invite only show and not everyone got to participate. There were a few bugs getting everything going at first but I think those who attended gave a lot of credit to Wurth for taking the plunge and setting up this opportunity to visit during a time when personal visitations are limited. I think we all can agree that we dislike the idea that we will not be able to get together in person this year but that just seems to be how things are going in 2020. So, in the meantime, check out the China Fastener show because I will really want to talk more about it after some of you take the time to visit it and check it out. And, it might be good practice for other shows to come!
Buyer’s Guide to China Fastener Show (Online)
China Fastener Show (Online) will be heading from August 10 – 18. More than 300 exhibitors will attend, providing new opportunities for Chinese and international companies.
China Fastener Show (Online) is organized by www.chinafastener.com, which is a B2B platform and has 11-year experience of offline exhibition.
You can register and attend China Fastener Show (Online) on www.chinafastener.com and provide your purchase needs, so that organizer can help you find suitable suppliers efficiently.
There are 12 areas covering a wide range of industries, such as automobile, construction, health care, new energy, etc.
After login, you can search interested exhibitor or exhibit on the homepage. Enter company name or booth number to find your old friend.
China Fastener Show (Online) provides instant messaging service and Chinese-English translation to realize smooth communication.
During the exhibition, numerous 1-on-1 purchase meetings will be held. You can schedule an appointment with exhibitors to talk in a face-to-face video meeting. Exhibitors could be those recommended by the organizer or selected by you.
You can also watch live streaming, check exhibitor’s information by exchanging E-busienss card.
By exchanging E-business card, you can check exhibitor’s information.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Ms. Fanty Fan via email@example.com.
Look forward to meeting you on China Fastener Show held from August 10-18!
Phil Matten is an interesting guy. I met Phil at the Vegas Show here in the U.S. but really Phil is an expert on the European Fastener Industry. His portfolio includes:
Fastener Industry Consultant, Writer and Analyst.
Editorial Consultant to Fastener + Fixing Magazines
Director, British & Irish Association of Fastener Distributors (BIAFD)
Consultant to European Fastener Distributor Association (EFDA)
Policy Advisor to Confederation of British Metalforming
For those readers in the U.S. who are members of regional or national fastener associations, the EFDA is the European body representing the interests of and supporting fastener importers and distributors throughout Europe.
The BIAFD is the trade association representing and supporting fastener importers and distributors in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Its primary role is to ensure its members are always better informed – that ranges from informative regular meetings, e-news and training resources. It represents its membership with UK and Irish authorities and through its founder membership of the European Fastener Distributor Association, with European bodies.
Phil has also been a sales director for FastenerExchange, the Managing Director – UK for Altenloh Brinck & Co, Sales & Marketing Director for Fastbolt Distributors (UK) Ltd, and held sales and marketing management positions for several other organizations.
But, best of all, Phil is generous with his time and took some time to discuss with me many aspects of the European Fastener Marketplace.
TS: I’m always curious how the U.S. marketplace compares to other parts of the world. For instance, is Brighton Best one of the main sources for commodity items like they are here?
Phil: Not the main source. They’re certainly a significant wholesaler (master distributor) in the UK but by no means as dominant as in the US. The largest wholesaler in the UK is the Hexstone Group, a conglomerate of longstanding British companies, now privately owned by an American family.
None of the UK wholesalers really penetrate continental Europe to a major extent. There are a number of challenges one of which is simple logistics. The UK is offshore and supplying across the English Channel (even before the UK leaves the EU fully which will mean additional customs processes) adds delivery time. That’s enough to tip the balance in an intensively serviced market against major competitors based in Germany and the Netherlands, and further away in Italy, Poland, Spain. Realistically, Germany and Italy are the power houses of the European fastener market, both for distribution and manufacturing.
TS: Is China and Taiwan as large a source of supply as it is here in the U.S.?
Phil: Yes. Over recent years volumes of imports from China have increased. US Section 301 tariffs also mean Chinese exporters have turned their attention more strongly to Europe. China accounts for around 38% of fasteners imported to the European Union. There is still a lot of product coming from Taiwan, generally higher grade or more specialized, but volumes have been eroded by China over the years so now it represents about 26% of EU imports. Vietnam was growing as a European source, until last year when volumes dipped as US importers switched there in response to tariffs on Chinese fasteners.
TS: Do European distributors get much product from the States?
Phil: Not a great deal. The US accounts for about 1.5% of total fasteners imports into the European Union. I’ve never really broken that down but a significant proportion is probably US companies supplying subsidiaries or partners in Europe. There are quite a few US subsidiaries, particularly in the UK. BBI mainly bring in direct from Asia which makes sense. Earnest Machine supplies US product into European customers. Supply Technologies, Optimas, Lone Star all have UK operations. Most recently Sherex established a subsidiary in the UK. Again, tariffs became a factor when the EU applied additional duties (25%) on some fasteners from the States – in retaliation for US tariffs applied by Donald Trump on EU product.
TS: Are there a lot of smaller and family owned distributors in Europe? How do they compete against the large multi-branch distributors? Is there a lot of distributor consolidation like there is in the States?
Phil: There still are a lot of SMEs, although there has been considerable consolidation over the last decade. We spoke previously about Wurth, Bossard and Supply Technologies. Bufab has picked up a number of good independents recently. Trifast made sound investments in Italian manufacturing and German distribution. Grainger has just reversed the process and divested Fabory, headquartered in the Netherlands, to a PE (private equity). Others have also been picked up by PEs, particularly if there is no family succession. That said, the SMEs are resilient, and relationships and local service still count. There’s a strong history of family ownership in the fastener distribution and manufacturing sector in Europe, so still plenty independently owned.
It’s worth recognizing that some of the German family owned fastener distributors are large by any standard. Reyher in Hamburg has sales in excess of US$350 million. Keller und Kalmbach in Munich similar. Both with massive, highly automated warehouse facilities – take a look at https://keller-kalmbach.de/unternehmen/zentrallager-hilpoltstein
Bossard, headquartered in Switzerland, is fundamentally family owned and has grown through astute acquisitions. Dresselhaus in Germany has recently gone from family to PE ownership. Amongst the manufacturers there are also plenty of very large, family owned businesses, particularly in Italy, several with a significant presence in North American – Fontana Group and Agrati are two you’ll immediately recognize.
TS: So, I’m a U.S. based distributor and I want to break into the European market. Any suggestions on how I should proceed?
Phil: It is as tough for a US company to penetrate the European market as it is the other way round. Both are mature markets and, unsurprisingly, there are plenty of companies across Europe fulfilling similar roles to those you know well in the States. We’re in an extraordinarily intensive service industry, both sides of the Atlantic, whether wholesaler to front line distributor, or front line distributor to OEM. Inventory holdings, tight lead times, VMI services, engineering support, specialist processes are all critical service values that rely strongly on market proximity.
Successful US companies have established a physical footprint in European markets (Supply Technologies, Optimas, Brighton Best, Lone Star, Earnest, Fastenal amongst others), or developed specific partnerships with European companies, often based on niche products. Others focus on servicing existing North American customers with European facilities.
TS: Finally, Phil, how has the coronavirus impacted the European fastener sector?
Phil: It has been extraordinarily challenging. There have been very tight lockdowns in Italy, Spain and the UK, amongst other countries. Across Europe the automotive sector came to a virtual standstill and car sales are only just beginning to pick up slowly as economies open up again. Aerospace has also been hit hard, Similar to Boeing, Airbus are seeing significant cancellations. That’s leading to significant job losses in supply chains – Rolls Royce is just one example, shedding 9000 roles globally.
In the UK, BIAFD surveys its members monthly. Surprisingly perhaps, a few have been doing quite well. Some had significant PPE ranges on which they built to offset fastener declines – you’ve seen a similar pattern with Fastenal. Others have been involved in critical supply chains, whether ventilators, protective screens or construction/installation of emergency health facilities. Overall, though, UK sales were hit hard in April and to a lesser extent May. For Italy and Spain the trough was a month or so earlier. June and early July have shown solid business upticks but there are concerns that was mainly catch-up and, with supply chains refilled, underlying demand looks weak. I always think the fastener market is a good barometer of economic fortunes and the glass is very definitely still reading stormy, so the industry is going to need to really demonstrate that resilience.