Global Fastener News

1982 FIN: Fastener Women Tell MFDA of Industry Experiences

December 14
00:00 2009


May 1, 1982 FIN – “What am I, chopped liver?” Peggy Thaw told two visitors to New York distributor Screw & Supply Inc.
The owner of Screw & Supply, Thaw had gone back in the shop to see about some orders when the men had walked in, taken a look, and said, “Oh, nobody’s here.”

On other occasions, she told the audience at the Metropolitan Fastener Distributors Association meeting in Sheepshead Bay, “I’ve had people call on the phone and ask to speak to someone who knows something.”

Thaw was the moderator of a panel discussion entitled, “The Fastener Industry: A Woman’s Perspective.”
“As time goes on and as this sort of discussion goes on and people realize there are knowledgeable women around, I think there will be less and less of this,” Thaw predicted.

With some lapses the panelists told success stories.
Thaw, upon being named to the MFDA board, wondered if “they just wanted me there to serve coffee at the meeting.

“The fastener industry for me has been an identity crisis,” said Judy Matthews of Secure Fastener & Tool Co., Inc. of Carlstadt, N.J.
“My perspective of this industry, rather than from a woman’s standpoint comes, like many of you, from the view of the child of,” Mathews explained. Those of us who have gone through the rigorous training by the parent who started it all can readily identify with what I am referring to.
Remember the days when you asked a question and were answered by, ‘Can’t you make a decision for yourself?’ Mathews recalled. “And the next day, when you did, you were greeted with, ‘Could you have asked me? Don’t I work here anymore?’

But Mathews considers herself fortunate in these times of high interest rates and poor cash flow to have learned from someone who has been through it all before.
In somewhat the same spirit that had prompted Thaw to ask while the panel was being named why the same women had not been invited to participate in other panels, Matthews went on to give her view of the economy and how the lessons her father had taught her could be applied.
Among these are how to tell when you should not extend credit even when the business looks attractive: “When an account which has been dormant or very inactive suddenly starts to order very heavily, and immediate current credit check is in order. Similarly, when that account you have been quoting for years suddenly decides that you will be their new source instead of the competition that has been getting the business for years, raise your credit antennae.”

“New account should be scrutinized as never before. Reading the Wall Street Journal or Business Week, which reports on the financial troubles of the large parent companies has saved us from costly mistakes. Don’t be hesitant when necessary to use the very hard-to-say but sometimes very necessary COD. When your sales instincts fight with your good credit sense, just remember how many more sales would be necessary just to make up the loss you might incur.”

An unsettling incident in Europe was remembered by Frances Gould, owner of Nyltite Corp. After addressing a group of German, Dutch and French manufacturers, representatives in Europe, she sat down to a table, where she was asked how she – the only woman to address the meeting – had come to own a fastener company. Gould explained that she was the only one of the three sisters to show an interest.
Bluntly, the German said, “Too bad your father didn’t have any sons.” While the Dutchman almost fell off his chair, the Frenchman, in a rather heedless rush of gallantry, blurted out, “It’s a shame your father didn’t have a son either.”
Frances looked for a place to hide and has never forgotten the moment. “It seemed to symbolize the evolving conflicts and inevitable change that occurs when tradition is challenged. I believe that what brought women into economic activity are the growing needs of the times. This age of science and technology minimizes the need for muscle energy and expands the need for mental energy, which has no basis in biological differences.”

Ann Fazandiero, who has been general manager of two fastener companies in her career and currently manages Stillwater Fasteners, recalls that she has worked with no more than eight or nine women, “all of whom have been office clerks,” Fazandiero pointed out.
Fazandiero thus concludes that there are opportunities for women in the fastener industry: “In the clerical, accounting, selling and management fields.”
Some day, maybe in the factory as well, “with some adjustments. Once would be physical conditioning for heavy lifting. The other would be educational training as machinists, tool makers and engineers.”

Both corporate people and workers have been cooperative, Fazandiero said. “For this vote of confidence, I must prove to be assertive, competitive, cooperative and have a compulsion to assume leadership and achieve authority.”

Asta Ball, vice president for sales at Miniature Nut & Screw Corp., asked, “How do I, a woman who has been part of this so-called ‘man’s world’, feel about where I am today? Did I struggle to learn? Of course. Was I accepted by my associates easily? Not always. When things got rough did I put in an extra amount of effort? You bet. Do I have the experience and qualifications to stand on my own in the fastener industry? Yes. Am I respected for the job I do? I hope so. Was it worth the effort? Definitely.”
“If one pauses to think for a moment, the questions I have just asked are ones that any person of any sex in any job in any field might have to answer,” Ball noted.

Sheri Marchak of Metric Systems International, perhaps proved how unimportant the difference is: “As I have listened to the other speakers, I think I’ve brought the wrong speech. I came prepared as a specialist in metrics.”
To Marchak, the important difference is not gender, but between those who understand metrics and those who don’t.
“I’m sure many of you cringe at the awful word – metrics,” Marchak pointed out. “You are specialist in American nuts and bolts. When a customer calls, you know the answers. If you are out of stock, you know where to get it. And, most of all you are secure with your knowledge of American bolts and nuts.
Now comes metric. We don’t even follow the rules. You talk about threads per inch. We talk about pitch. You talk about grade. We say tensile strength. How are you supposed to know what your customer is asking for?”
She encouraged us to try: “Why not handle all of your customer’s needs and in the long run keep the account?” ©1982/2009 Fastener Industry News.

Related Links:

• Metropolitan Fastener Distributors Association

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