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Distributor's Link Magazine Spring 2022 / Vol 45 No 2


32 THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK Jo Morris Marketing Director FASTENER TRAINING INSTITUTE ® CONTINUED ON PAGE 114 Dan Walker Managing Director INDUSTRIAL FASTENERS INSTITUTE ® THE POWER OF ASSOCIATIONS AND EDUCATION TO CONNECT THE SKILLS AND LABOR GAP A Workforce Under Transformation We’ve all experienced it. Workers have been leaving the workforce in record numbers. At the end of 2021, our economy was left with nearly 11 million unfilled positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Access to skilled and educated workers is critical to the success and competitiveness of companies. This chasm between positions needing to be filled and access to skilled labor, along with supply chain shifts due to COVID, left manufacturers seeking new ways to ensure business continuity. Manufacturers that had slowly been embracing digital transformation were accelerating the implementation of AI technology, improved automation and analytics ushering in the era of “manufacturing 4.0” In fact, 95 percent of companies responding to the FICTIV 2021 State of Manufacturing Report indicated that digital transformation has become essential to their company’s future success. These companies have been quick to point out, however, that this digital transformation has not been undertaken to replace the workforce. The technologies and intelligence brought about via manufacturing 4.0 are intended to augment the capability of an improved, skilled workforce. But this embrace of digital transformation is not undertaken to replace the workforce, this digital transformation is intended to augment the capability of an improved, upskilled workforce that will increase competitiveness and optimize productivity. To fully leverage these increased capabilities through digital transformation, manufacturers are examining ways to fill the need for skilled labor. Manufacturers are actively looking at ways to upskill, cross-train and educate a workforce needed to advance and leverage the new capabilities. The reality is that individual companies simply cannot shoulder workforce development for an entire industry on their own. Workforce development is an industry-wide issue, but not something that can be solved for all of manufacturing. Workforce development must be approached with a deep understanding of industry issues and technology, while broad enough to be impactful across the broad array of differentiated companies. Enter Trade Associations Trade associations are knowledge centers for entire industries, dealing with broad, industry-wide issues, like trade, infrastructure, policy, specifications, and market development. By dealing with common issues that face an industry, these associations enable individual companies to focus on core business competencies and proprietary differences. As broad-based experts on an industry, trade associations are also an ideal focus factory for developing a skilled workforce, as is the case with our fastener industry. As a mature industry, we are fortunate to have established partners through key associations like the Industrial Fasteners Institute (IFI) and the Fastener Training Institute (FTI). While different in membership and purpose, the IFI and FTI are closely aligned on providing critical industry education to advance the workforce and address growing skills gaps. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

THE DISTRIBUTOR’S LINK 33 AFC Industries has acquired Cinnaminson New Jersey based AALL AMERICAN Fasteners (AAF). Terms of the deal, the third AFC acquisition this year, were not disclosed. Founded in 1998, AALL AMERICAN Fasteners is a Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) services provider offering a complete line of fasteners, electronic hardware, electrical components, tools, abrasives, safety, and industrial products. AFC CEO Kevin Godin explained, “The addition of the AALL AMERICAN Fasteners team to the AFC family will expand our reach into several key growth areas and further establish us in geographies that are important to us.” AAF Owner Mark Tenenbaum added, “AFC brings the perfect balance of scale and flexibility that will allow us to expand our capabilities while continuing to build upon the customer service commitment that has made us successful so far.” Headquartered in Fairfield OH, AFC Industries supplies fasteners and assembly components, specializing in Vendor Managed Inventory solutions (VMI) to manufacturing and assembly plants in a broad range of industrial markets. In April 2021 AFC Industries was acquired by Bertram Capital, based in Foster City CA. For more information about AFC Industries visit them online at


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