Global Fastener News

2000 FIN – Perspective: A Renewed Form of Consolidation?

November 11
00:00 2012

June 29, 2000 FIN ­ – The Fastener Quality Act could be credited with bringing the Industrial Fasteners Institute and National Fastener Distributors Association into a close working relationship.

The FQA was the driving force in creating the Fastener Industry Coalition, American Association of Fastener Importers, Metric Importers of North America and even the Fastener Quality Association.
After FQA amendments failed to pass Congress in 1994, the IFI and NFDA formed the Public Law Task Force to work together on the law, began holding joint sessions, and the NFDA even moved into the same office building in downtown Cleveland to improve communication.
Now NFDA leaders are talking about bringing together more North American fastener distribution associations under its umbrella.
NFDA president Jim Ruetz told FIN a factor in his selection as the 2000-01 leader was his experience in bringing together various regional groups into the Industrial Distributors Association.
In recent years the NFDA has taken a variety of steps toward working with regional associations. The NFDA conducted its two-day training sessions in cooperation with several regionals.
Last year the NFDA opened its fall meeting in Boston to nonmembers and is actively encouraging others to come to its fall conference in advance of the National Industrial Fastener Show/West in Las Vegas. The NFDA is paying for General Colin Powell as a keynote speaker in hopes of attracting more of the industry.
Membership numbers are frequently mentioned in the industry as a reason for consolidating associations. However, NFDA membership has not been shrinking. The distributors association reported 209 members in 1995, 222 in 1996, 238 in 1997, and 246 in 1998 and 1999. Even though nine member companies were involved in consolidations last year, NFDA membership held virtually steady at 245.
Ruetz wants to see growth, rather than the NFDA holding its own in membership numbers.
Association Redundancies
Ruetz sees an advantage of some form of consolidation as eliminating the cost of redundancies. Members would not have to pay to attend both regional and national events. Almost all of the fastener associations have the cost of a full- or part-time executive director, Ruetz pointed out.
The Los Angeles Fastener Association developed a Certified Fastener Specialist training program, and the NFDA’s Information & Technology committee is “looking at something similar – an interactive program on the Internet.”
Ruetz doesn’t think every association should have to pay to develop a specialist training program.
Ruetz also sees consolidation as a benefit to associate members, who must travel to a dozen or more fastener association meetings annually.
“I have real empathy for the associate members,” Ruetz said. Though as an IDA association leader he traveled extensively for a few years, Ruetz said he “can’t imagine doing it year after year” as suppliers do in attending regional distribution events.
At the Wire Association International meeting in Nashville this month the early success of the new Industrial Fastener & Forming International trade show led to questions about whether the NFDA would follow the manufacturing organization’s lead and start a distributor show as part of a Fastener Week in 2003.
The IFI and the International Fastener Machinery Association developed IFFI, which would either compete with or replace the International Fastener & Precision Formed Parts Manufacturing Expo owned by Reed Exhibition Companies. A year in advance of the first show, exhibit space is 77% sold out, and show management is expanding the floorplan.
An NFDA distribution show idea was logical to WAI participants, as the association owns its industry show.
There are other examples in related associations. The Specialty Tools & Fasteners Association has never raised dues in its 23-year history. Part of the reason is the revenue from its conventions.
The speculation at WAI was that the NFDA could use show profits to provide training and other programs to attract regionals to join.
Ruetz said it is too soon to judge whether the NFDA should get involved in a distributor show.

We Told You So
If the NFDA and IFI were to host a Fastener Week in 2003, the Chicago Bolt, Nut & Screw Association leaders could be saying, “We told you so.” CBNSA tried to put together a distribution and manufacturing Fastener Week by co-locating the Chicago Fastener Forum & Expo with IFE. The deal fell apart when IFE exhibitors from Europe objected to the fall date instead of the traditional spring show.
Then CBNSA and four other regional associations sought to create USFast, a traveling trade show. The idea was to use show profits to fund association training and scholarship programs.
The NFDA rejected participation in USFast, and pulled out of a joint meeting this September. It was to be hosted by Chicago in conjunction with the 19th annual Chicago Fastener Forum & Expo and include the Southeastern, Western and Los Angeles associations. That scuttled the multiple association program for this year.
It also added a hurdle for the NFDA to overcome in talks with the five associations involved in USFast.
Ruetz acknowledges that early discussions of an expanded NFDA haven’t yielded “anything really strong yet.” Mentioning the subject is “just the first baby step” in finding more formal ways to work together.
It took seven years for the IDA to roll up regional groups, and Ruetz isn’t expecting the fastener industry to come together any faster, but he believes some form of industrywide fastener distribution association is probable. ©2000/2012 Fastener Industry News
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