So, where did Solution Industries come from?
Over the years, I had worked in distribution for a couple different companies and then set up my own shop. I was running a small job shop doing work for local distributors and kind of doing some of the same things that we still do today at Solution. An old friend approached me and told me he was unhappy at his job and was looking for a new opportunity. He thought we could build a company based around doing specials for companies that did not have our combined years of experience in the industry. My customer base was pretty regional and he thought there was a greater need than just the customers I had been working with. What made us think we could do it was that I already had the machine shop in house and was already doing a lot of secondary operations for people.
Your machine shop was Royal Fasteners. How did that start?
I sold my car, came up with $560 and started my own business in my garage. I had a band saw, chop saw, drill press and a grinder. I was “that guy” doing secondary operations out of my garage. Today, the quality demands are much more stringent. In today’s world, those parts might not have passed inspection. Solution Industries is very quality conscious and we get audited frequently. I’m not sure Royal would have passed all these same audits that Solution passes today.
Well, things have worked out well in the end. Your company is in its 15th year and seems to have carved out a niche for itself. And yet, you don’t really have a “product line”. What do you do at Solution?
Haha, that’s a funny question. We do have some products we would call a “product line”. Stripper Bolts, zinc plated sockets, metric blue sockets. But you are correct we don’t have “product lines”. We do packaging and kitting but, mainly, we handle secondary operations for a lot of companies that do not want to handle them themselves. And we do it for a very large number of distributors and by doing it for so many companies we can drive some of our costs down and then we fit into the picture. Listen, every purchase order costs money, every secondary operation requires another P.O. and an inspection. If the part needs certs or other paperwork, there is a cost. Then you have freight to move the part around to all the companies doing the secondary operations and when you add it all together, there are a lot of hidden costs. I might save some money by sending 20 orders to the plater at once and reducing some of the small costs. There are some cost savings to be realized by being efficient, and we try to drive out costs every day at Solution. And our customers can order a part from us, cut one P.O., have one receivable, one bill to pay and ultimately come back to us if something goes wrong. Our job is to make sure nothing goes wrong!
So, where did Solution Man come from?
From a little kid who was a big fan of comic books. Me!! I still like comic books and when we came up with the idea of Solution Man we knew we had something good. Coming up with ways to use Solution Man as a way to advertise the company has been a lot of fun over the years and has allowed a lot of different people in the company to funnel their creative energy. In fact, we are working on our second edition of our Solution comic book right now, so stay tuned!
I see your ads, I see you Twitter page and Facebook pages and you guys have a lot of fun looking stuff going on. Is Solution Industries a fun place to work?
Haha, I don’t know. That’s probably a question to ask the employees. Some days are hard and we work hard when we’ve got stuff to get done. But, yes, we try to have some fun and we do try to include everyone in the company when attending industry outings and we try our best to recognize the good work being done by our team. We have a great staff and I never want to take that for granted. And, yes, there are some fun days even though we are still buying, selling, packing and shipping fasteners.
Where will Solution Industries be in 10 years?
Funny you ask that question because we spend a lot of time discussing stuff like that at our managers meetings. Seriously, we do. We do not want to become complacent and in today’s business climate we think complacency can lead to the demise of a company. We do not micro manage, in fact we rely heavily on input from our team to consider the direction we are heading. We have a very nice mix of veterans and young people at the company. In 10 years I expect that the younger people on our team will be running the day to day and those old guys like me who still love the industry will have a place to contribute as long as they still want to. We have ideas on where we go next and we will continue to fine tune the business. I’ve learned to grow with the company and realize that Solution is very adaptable to the fastener industry. It’s a work in progress and I’m looking forward to all of it.