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1996 FIN: Fastener Firms Start Marketing on the Internet

1996 FIN: Fastener Firms Start Marketing on the Internet
January 01
00:00 2010

1996 FIN: Fastener Firms Start Marketing on the Internet

April 9, 1996 FIN – The day Bobby Barnhill took up surfing the Web, she was greeted with an e-mail letter from Joel Roseman congratulating her on Barnhill Bolt Co.’s new Home Page on the World Wide Web.

Beyond hearing from Roseman, president of Pawtucket, Rhode Island based Bell Fasteners, Barnhill discovered within days that the Internet is a new way of doing business. She got inquiries from Israel, Germany and the Philippines.
“I don’t say we’re doing business with all those yet, but we are getting business from place we never heard from before,” Barnhill said. “We are broadening our market.”

The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based distributor said she has made sales to places even more difficult for others to spell than Albuquerque.
One of the places Barnhill had never heard of was Macedonia. That is between Hungary and the former Yugoslavia Republic. And she heard from a Washington State University student seeking a bolt for his motorcycle.
“We’re building,” Barnhill said. “We’re making connections.”

And new sales have already paid the costs of the Barnhill Home Page, she reported.
Establishing a link with the federal EDI system allows Barnhill Bolt to “compete very well with larger distributorships,” Barnhill added.
Major distribution firms, such as W.W. Grainger, Inc., have their general catalogs on the Internet.

Barnhill’s webmaster (the Internet term for the individual who maintains the Home Page), Ross Barnhill, terms the Home Page as “basically, a fancy brochure.”
Barnhill Bolt started with a simple Home Page listing of “groups of things we stock,” Ross Barnhill said. “People can link in and see our different categories.”
Barnhill is in the process of expanding the page into a full catalog.
Barnhill Bolt averages 300 Home Page hits a day and one day had 2,200, Ross Barnhill said. And the numbers are growing.
Ross Barnhill wants fastener manufacturers to get on the Web so distributors can find inventory any hour of any day.

Just starting
Though the number of fastener firms with a Home Page is just a fraction of the estimated 7,000 North American fastener companies, more are getting on each week.
A search of the Internet by FIN on April 8 for fastener information yielded 16,034 documents on the U.C. Berkeley Inktomi Research Prototype. Narrowing the search to “screw” drew 6,534.
On Lycos a search for “fasteners, bolt, screw” found 32,101.
Those responses include every mere mention of the word fastener on the World Wide Web.

New on the Internet
· The Industrial Fasteners Institute is working with to create a fastener Web site. The IFI page will provide general fastener information and references to standards.
It will provide “hot links” to the Web sites of IFI members so browsers can connect directly from the IFI Home Page to member manufacturer’s pages.
IFI managing director Rob Harris said the IFI Page should be on-line by the end of June.

· Information on the U.S. Fastener Quality Act and the regulations will be available on the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Home Page on the Internet.

· FastenerNet is providing a listing of “any quantity of its surplus or standard inventories in a database that will be viewed world wide,” Bernie Singer said. Fastener firms “will be able to communicate with other member companies world wide for the price of a local phone call.’
FastenerNet will include a source guide for all members and the database will be updated every 60 days.
FastenerNet will only be a listing service, and all transactions will be made between subscribing companies, Singer said.

· Ten years ago, Fastener Industry News published a list of new fax numbers. Beginning with this issue, FIN is listing new E-mail and Home Pages for fastener firms in the newsletter and on FIN’s Home Page.

· Bobby Barnhill urges everyone to reserve their company name on the Internet even if they are not ready to “surf the Web” yet. “Barnhill was already gone last summer when we went to reserve our name,” she lamented. “So we ended up with Barnbolt.” ©1996/2010 Fastener Industry News.

Editor’s Note: Scroll down for a 1999 FIN update on Barnhill Bolt’s web leadership.

1999 FIN ? Reuters Features Barnhill as Small Business Web Leader

September 30, 1999 FIN – Reuters News Agency featured Barnhill Bolt Co. Inc. of Albuquerque, NM, in a recent article.

Sam Fromartz of Reuters wrote that Barnhill “isn’t a glitzy Internet ‘brand’ and the 32,000 fastener it sells don’t have much sex appeal, but in many ways this family-owned enterprise represents the future of small-business electronic-commerce.”

What the Internet has done is offer a new and important sales channel for the company, on that’s growing tenfold a year and is approaching about 8% of its business,” Fromarz wrote. “It has a store on Yahoo Inc.’s portal and a larger operation at its own domain.”

Ross Barnhill, webmaster and grandson of the founder, told Reuters the Internet has been profitable from day one. “I don’t really understand people who stay in business losing money,” he said.

The regional fastener distributor now sells globally from its World Wide Web presence.

The address has been mentioned in obscure chat rooms for people wanting one replacement screw for an antique car.

However, most of the sales are businesses, and many find Barnhill on the web but call to actually order.

The Reuters article said business-to-business Ecommerce is projected to reach $67 million to $300 million in 2000 and triple that by 2002.

“Although figures are all over the map, the projections show that sales will rise quickly and dwarf the activity in the consumer market,” Fromartz reported.

“And growth among U.S.-based small businesses is expected to be especially dramatic, as only 2% are now active in Ecommerce, averaging annual revenue of $25,000.”

Barnhill “got a jump on the market when he started the web site back in 1994. At the time, a search for bolts would have turned up just two sites, he says – an artist in Arizona and Barnhill Bolt. A year later Barnhill Bolt was selling online through a site eventually acquired by Yahoo.”

Barnhill told Reuters Yahoo wanted $3,000 a month for the site. “I’ll offer you $300,” he recalled saying.

The Yahoo connection has been a strong source of first-time customers for Barnhill Bolt, but Barnhill also now runs its own web site with a larger catalogue – all of it automated and hooked into the personal computers of Barnhill Bolt’s telephone sales force.

Barnhill described himself as a self-taught techie who doesn’t devote much time to it. The company spends about $1,500 a month for everything related to the web.

Barnhill has developed sales programs just for the web site. His father, Jim Barnhill, thought of a “floor sweep assortment, “described as a “rich blend of all kinds of machine screws” from the warehouse floor starting at $1.50 a pound.

“Anything that hasn’t sold in 2 or 3 years gets tossed in, and we’ve sold 600 pounds, two or three weeks into it,” Barnhill said. “I don’t understand it, but even government agencies are buying.” ©1999/2010 Fastener Industry News

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