6 years ago

FALL 2014

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Distributor's Link Magazine Fall Issue 2014


90 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK FAB - Email Don Nowak: • Ron Stanley: FASTENER ADVISORY BOARD FASTENER INDUSTRY NETWORK GROUP ‘FAB’ PASSES 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY The FAB group (Fastener Advisory Board) concept began at an NFDA meeting where members were placed into noncompeting executive networks back in 1992 to provide an independent group of advisors for each member’s company. Approximately 6 groups were formed at the NFDA meeting, but only one “the FAB group” decided to continue to meet after the initial program at the NFDA meeting. The group met casually at the 1993 NIFS show in Columbus but the first formal meeting was hosted at Hoyt Fasteners in Chicago in the summer of 1994. Over the years, the purpose has grown to include benchmarking and the sharing of best practices, among others. The current mission statement for the FAB group is fairly simple: To assist each other in establishing and succeeding in business and personal goals, through sharing experiences, through sharing methods of analysis, by providing accountability, by maintaining focus and by challenging one another. By reviewing critical issues and Best practice concepts The group typically meet 3 times a year with two of the meetings held at a member’s business and one meeting that focuses on best practices and is held in a nice venue away from the businesses, where spouses or significant others are invited. Current member Jim Ruetz stated “I can’t put a price on the value of having 5 or 6 industry owners come in to our facility and conduct a review of our team, processes, and strategies.” Ruetz added “unlike consultants the FAB members absolutely know the business and relate well to the issues involved in today’s distribution marketplace. Having the FAB group audit your company is very similar to having a board of directors with industry knowledge at your disposal.” While most of the membership over the years has been strict distribution company members, in 2006 current member Tim O’Keeffe joined the group as the first manufacturer/distributor member. O’Keeffe (GL Huyett –Minneapolis, KS) decided to join because he felt that “In spite of being on the supply side of the business- O’Keeffe felt many of the issues discussed cross the boundaries of traditional distribution vs. manufacturing.” Besides O’Keeffe, other current members of the group include charter members: Don Nowak (Falcon Fastening Solutions, Charlotte NC) and Ron Stanley (Empire Bolt, Spokane WA), Mark Shannon (Tower Fasteners Holtsville, NY) who joined the group in 2007 along with Jim Ruetz (All Integrated Solutions- Franksville, WI). Over its 20 year history the FAB group has had 13 other members active in the organization with an average group size of 7 members at any one time. Founding member Ron Stanley noted “changes in ownership and/or retirement were the most common reasons for a change in the group’s membership. We have grown from the input of the various members over the years and have benefitted from the resulting changes to the dynamics of the group. “ Most of the members are owners but not always- Founding member Don Nowak was a member of the executive team at Hoyt Fasteners when he joined the group and later served in that same role at Falcon Metal Products before buying the company in 2008 from Bruce Roberts . Don commented “I don’t know that I would have made the move to buy Falcon had it not been for the guidance and input from the FAB group.” Besides conducting business reviews the group spends time on best practices in areas from IT, Sales/Marketing concepts, HR, technology, etc… “Sometimes we get wrapped up in our traditional way of doing things and it’s extremely helpful to see a different approach” stated current member Mark Shannon (Tower Fasteners). Each member of the group is required to report to the other members on their key metrics and provide a short narrative monthly.. Members are held accountable by the group on their reporting requirements. “The monthly update forces me to stop and take stock in how my business is progressing, putting my thoughts on paper helps me to consistently analyze things like sales results, HR concerns, and process issues in my business” states current member Tim O’Keeffe. The only items that are off limits are specific customer information and of course any competitive discussions involving pricing. If you are interested in joining the group you can contact any of the current members. There are no fees to join and the costs for meetings are split amongst the members. All members must be committed to participate and be interested in sharing their ideas and have some fun & laughs along the way!

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