Global Fastener News

1981 FIN – Pacific Fasteners Acquires ITT Harper’s Toronto Center

April 11
00:00 2012


November 5, 1981 FIN – Pacific Fasteners, of Vancouver, B.C., has bought the ITT Harper Toronto fastener distribution operation.
“As a small Vancouver firm moving into the big Toronto market, we’ve raised a few eyebrows,” Gordon Arborak tells Fastener Industry News. “It’s the same as if somebody in Portland, Ore., bought up somebody in Chicago. It’s just not done.”

Pacific Fasteners was started ten years ago by Arborak and his wife, Evelyn Arborak.

“Ten years ago,” he says, “I thought I would be content to just piddle along in Vancouver. The growth I have experienced in the last five years has just been in phenomenal. With the new Toronto office, we are up to 17 people. It is getting to the point where it is not any fun anymore.”

For the past five years ITT Harper has been phasing out the fastener distribution business in Canada. “They would send a branch some inch-and-a-quarter left-handed nuts but no quarter-inch nuts so you know what happens to your day-to-day sales,” Arborak says. “It got to the point where the bottom line wasn’t attractive, so they said, let’s close this thing down. I think it was a planned demise. ITT is run by accountants and everything is run around the bottom-line figure. By cutting out 90% of the accounting requirements and the computer requirements we will be able to move a hell of a lot fastener than a firm with systems and procedures set up by accountants. ITT Harper is now out of Canada altogether.

Three and a half years ago, ITT Harper was phasing out its Vancouver operation and Pacific acquired their inventory and assets. “Six months ago we heard rumors that Toronto would be phased out. We approached them on maybe retaining it and making a visible operation out of it again. Unfortunately, Troy was in ahead of me, so I had to bide my time till they wither went ahead or not.

“At the end of August, John Roberts in Harper’s Chicago office approached me to see if I was still interested. Two days later I was on an airplane to Toronto. Then, I went to Chicago and a day and a half later had concluded the arrangement.

“I’m now in the process of getting rid of a whole bunch of computer read-outs and funny systems and trying to simplify so that we can give a customer a price and delivery off our finger tips rather than having to wade through mountains and mountains of bloody paper.”

Pacific deals strictly in noncorrosive fasteners: all grades of stainless, copper, monel, titanium, hastalloys. It deals with maintenance, repair and OEM customers. “They want to order it tomorrow for delivery yesterday,” he says, “We made great strides in Vancouver to the point where we probably became the largest in Western Canada, in terms of sales and inventory. Out sold a lot into western Ontario. We got a phone call or Telex here and get an answer back to the customer within ten minutes. If they go through firms that are tied up with computers and so on, it will take three days. We often ship and invoice before the competitors get back with an answer.”

He is often able to take advantage of time zone differences in selling to people back east. Where a late call to a Midwestern or Eastern supplier might find them either gone for the day or so close to leaving that nothing will happen until tomorrow, he can get an order on an airplane that night.

Arborak also things that West Coast people are just naturally more service orientated than easterners. “In Toronto their idea of a rush delivery is one week. We get it to him in a couple days.”

He is looking at the U.S. market. Pacific already sells some in Washington and Oregon.

The Toronto office will be managed by Jim Dillon, the former ITT Harper manager there. Arborak has retained four of the old Harper employees there and hired two additional ones. “It is going to be self-sufficient,” he says. “It will work right if we can get the people to forget about the ITT way of doing business. The best thing that can happen to you is to have your competitor put in a computer.”

Reports are that Pacific intends to become the biggest fastener distributor in Canada, and that, moving next to open a Winnipeg office, it will eventually cover the country.©1981/2012 Fastener Industry News

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