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Fastenal racks up another double-double

BY HBSDealer Staff

It’s called a 20-20 double-double, and among business metrics it’s a grand slam multiplied by a slam dunk. The definition is sales and earnings growth of at least 20% in the same quarter.

Not only did Winona, Minn.-based Fastenal achieve a 20-20 in the first quarter — $769 million in sales, up 20.0%, and $100 million in net earnings, up 26.0% — but the company has scored a 20-20 double-double for eight consecutive quarters.

With that kind of performance, the company has earned the right to talk about the key to growth. One reason is they have picked their market carefully. “It’s big,” the company wrote about the industrial supplies market in its latest earnings announcement. The market’s total sales in North America are north of $160 billion. And that market is fragmented, too.

While 2,611-location Fastenal describes the concept of growth as simple — “find more customers every day and increase your activity with them,” — the execution is “hard work.” Here are the company’s keys to achieving it:

• Recruit service-minded individuals to support its customers and their business;

• Operate in a decentralized fashion to help identify the greatest value for customers;

• Build a great machine behind the store to operate efficiently and to help identify new business solutions; and

• Do these things every day.

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Navigating the new Facebook

BY HBSDealer Staff

Just when you felt comfortable marketing your business on Facebook, here comes Facebook Timeline.

A Facebook posting from Dave’s Ace Hardware of Milton, Wis., had this to say about the new twist in social media: “The Dave’s Ace Hardware page has been automatically converted to Timeline. What used to be my comfortable and familiar refuge has now been reduced to a foreign and stressful exercise. This is going to take me some time to get used to.”

For small businesses wondering how to make the most of the new format, Seth Lieberman, CEO of Pangea Media, offered some tips.

“Cover and profile photos, tabs and favorite apps, milestones and more must all be considered in order to maximize all that Facebook’s new Timeline layout offers,” he said. Two keys: Brush up on private messaging and interaction skills.

Some things haven’t changed, Lieberman added: “News, humor, entertainment and insider insights grab your audience’s attention and motivate them to return for more. Simply pouring out post after post of advertising copy will mean losing fans and readership — people want to be engaged with the material, not spammed.”

After some initial frustration, Dave’s Ace Hardware has turned its Facebook page (Facebook.com/davesace) into a tour de force. His customers weigh in on everything from when he should put away his ice melt (29 responses) to the wisdom of taking back a DeWalt 18V NiCad battery from 2002. (The customer still had the receipt.)

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D.C. Hotline: Not so fast on union posters

BY HBSDealer Staff

A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (D.C.) Circuit Court has delayed a new rule — set to take effect April 30 — that required workplaces to post right-to-organize notices.

To be in compliance with the new rule, private employers will have to post an 11-in.-by-17-in. notice regarding employee rights to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. The requirement was set by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

A U.S. District Court for South Carolina disagreed, stating that the NLRB does not have the statutory authority to require business owners to post this notice. A District Court in D.C. found the NLRB rule acceptable, but limited how the agency could enforce it.

Both lower courts, along with the NLRB and private employers, will now await a final decision from the Washington, D.C., appellate court.

“This ruling is a big win for NLBMDA members, and we are pleased the courts recognized the administration exceeded its authority regarding the union poster rule,” said Michael O’Brien, president and CEO of the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA). “I hope the decision by the D.C. Circuit will help the NLRB strike a better balance between the rights of employers and unions.”

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