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FALL 2022

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Distributor's Link Magazine Summer 2022 / Vol 45 No 4


70 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK GLOBALFASTENERNEWS.COM by JOHN WOLZ EDITOR NFDA PANELISTS: SUPPLY CHAIN FACES ‘BUMPS’ Industry panelists at the National Fastener Distributors Association 2022 spring meeting reported supply chain problems are easing, but are not back to normal. Joe Kochan, COO of the Elgin Fastener Group, said “inbound raw material was stabilizing” before Russia invaded the Ukraine. Raw material “continues to be a challenge” for Elgin. The Ohio-based manufacturer is ordering and forecasting further out, Kochan said. There also are delays in outside processing for manufacturers, Kochan added. Shipping has improved, but Tim Roberto, president of Star Stainless Screw, said “ports can’t handle” the shipping as is and “any little bump down the road” creates larger problems. “Your customers are going through the same problems,” Roberto pointed out. Angela Philipport of AFC Industries, who has 25 years in various purchasing roles, said a key will be “keeping lines of communication open in the supply chain. AFC has relied on “communication and collaboration.” Roberto agreed there is a need to share information. “Star Stainless is relying on supply chain relationships” “We are all swimming in the same ocean” panel moderator Eric Dudas summarized. ¤ Recession ahead? “I’m usually the optimist,” Roberto said. But he finds fear of a recession “is driving the narrative.” Kochan pointed out that even if a recession develops that “we serve different markets” and some markets will have a soft landing.” “There is still business during a recession,” Roberto pointed out. ¤ Roberto started in the fastener industry with a summer job 31 years ago. He became a branch manager at age 25. All along he has been “building relationships” with Star Stainless people by “sitting down and having a conversation.” When you get to know them you “recognize where BUSINESS FOCUS ARTICLE their strengths are.” Also be aware that “people evolve,” Roberto added. “Give tools to people who are motivated.” Knowing the employee’s strength helps you avoid attempting to put “a square peg into a round hole,” Roberto advised. Kochan started in manufacturing “on the shop floor.” ¤ Philipports said AFC is ordering further in advance and working with domestic partners for “greater control over the order board.” In buying domestic, AFC is looking “at the total cost of imported product.” Roberto said the import / domestic ratio “comes back to cost.” Roberto asked and answered reshoring questions: “Can we? Yes. Should we? Yes.” Kochan agreed that domestic vs. imported “comes down to cost.” But he noted that “people are talking about it (reshoring) more” and EFG is having “conversations with customers.” He predicts there will be more domestic production. “Price is not the total cost of ownership,” Kochan noted. ¤ Philipports said remote employees have opened a greater talent pool. She cited a recent search drew 12 applicants to work in the office, but “a thousand-plus to work remotely.” Kochan touted EFG’s internship program and noted he just hired an engineer who had been an intern. He had once been “third shift on the shop floor in Alabama who others had helped along.” Kochan urged management to be engaged with employees. “People need to know they are important” and they “have a future” with the company. Roberto suggested to improve efficiency “go to the person who is doing that job” for suggestions. Philipports emphasized that managers “need to be leaders. I have to be the leader” and “set the example.” EFG developed a program of games to get people to look forward to being at work. Referring to the pandemic of 2020, Philipport norms “there was no playbook” and AFC had to “look at alternatives.” GLOBALFASTENERNEWS.COM



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