Global Fastener News

2010 FIN – Perspective: Surber Steered ATF to Success While Manufacturing Moved

November 28
00:00 2012

2010 FIN – Perspective: Surber Steered ATF to Success While Manufacturing Moved

April 5, 2010 FIN – The company has three former chairman of the Industrial Fasteners Institute totaling four years and now its CEO has been honored with the Case Meritorious Service Award for outstanding leadership.
Beyond being IFI chair for two terms – 1984/ 1985 and 1997/98 – Donald E. Surber has successfully steered ATF Inc. for more than three decades while innumerable North American manufacturers disappeared as production moved overseas.
Surber led a management buyout of Accurate Threaded Fasteners Inc. from Beatrice Foods Co. in 1982.
Beatrice Foods had $3.5 billion in annual sales – two-thirds in foods. Accurate’s sales were just $12 million to $15 million of that total.
The fastener company had been founded in 1946 by Harry Berg as a distributor of war surplus fasteners. Beatrice acquired the company in 1967.
“I saw Beatrice spend a lot of money.” Surber recalled.
Surber started in fasteners with Illinois Tool Works and then joined Accurate Threaded Fasteners as general manager in 1978.
Surber soon saw an opportunity. “Management level buyouts were new,” he recalled.
When he acquired ATF in 1982 Surber told FIN that “First of all, we are not trying to be all things to all people. We have targeted a much tighter market: the specialty market.”
Surber led ATF in a new focus. “We do more than just selling fasteners,” Surber described ATF. “We are not just manufacturing a commodity.”
As part of keeping ahead of the market, in 1998 ATF co-founded Global Fastener Alliance as a network of fastener companies based in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
ATF also has a joint venture in Mexico – EJOT ATF Fasteners de Mexico; Rifast Systems LLC in-die staking of studs and nuts in stampings; Asust Technologies LLC, injection molded parts; plus ATF has manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin and at its headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood, IL.
Surber sees ATF’s role in the IFI as “giving back to the industry.”
The IFI has held a significant role in every decade, he pointed out. From engineering and establishing fastener standards to the “significant call to battle” on the U.S. Fastener Quality Act in the 1990s, the IFI has provided “strength as one voice” for the industry.
Porter McLean, who now heads ATF’s Zephyr – a joint venture with Lakshmi Precision Screws – was IFI chair for 2006-07. McLean was ATF president until taking the Zephyr role last year.
He said throughout his career Surber had “no hesitation to make the time and commitment to the IFI.”
McLean credited Surber’s “entrepreneurial spirit” for “nurturing ATF’s culture.”
While he was with Acument Global Technologies, Steve Beach was IFI chair following McLean.
When Beach brought his 25 years of fastener sales experience – including Camcar/Textron and Acument – to ATF as vice president of sales last year, he found the transition to easy. “ATF is engineering based, value-added orientation.
Beach found he likes the ATF style of a privately held company, which reinvests in itself. “It is small enough not to be hindered with bureaucracy and layers. We focus on our markets,” Beach observed.
The future? Surber has watched fastener manufacturing move first to Japan, then Taiwan, then China and most recently India.
“There is still a need for domestic suppliers that can solve engineering problems,” Surber told
Surber sees “more opportunity for plastic. There are synergies in metal and plastic subassemblies.”
The weak dollar is helping domestic fastener manufacturers and added that ATF is “outperforming our peer group.”
Last summer Surber promoted Jason Surber from vice president of sales & marketing to president.
Prior to joining ATF in 2001, the younger Surber was a corporate attorney concentrating in mergers, acquisitions and commercial litigation.
He takes the role with the “intent to sustain” the family business, which will inevitably face “pressures from the market.”
Jason Surber’s strategy for ATF remains based in engineering. “We are excited about diversification and what we can offer in engineering for the wind, solar and aerospace markets,” he told FIN. “We’re seeing opportunities for innovation.” ©2010/2012 Fastener Industry News
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Scroll down for 2009 FIN story on ATF’s new management team.

2009 FIN � ATF Announces New Management Team
September 2, 2009 FIN – Jason Surber is the new president of fastener manufacturer ATF Inc., succeeding Porter McLean who becomes president of Zephyr Fasteners.
CEO Don Surber also announced the new management team includes Steve Beach as vice president for sales & marketing; Peter Dyer, vice president of operations; Laurence Claus, vice president of technology & engineering; and John Glazier, CFO.
Jason Surber was promoted from vice president for sales & marketing. He has held several sales management and business development positions since joining ATF in 2001. Surber is on ATF’s board of advisors and is chairman of the board of EJOT-ATF Fasteners de Mexico. Prior to joining ATF Surber was a corporate attorney concentrating in mergers, acquisitions and commercial litigation.
McLean now heads Zephyr – the joint venture between Lakshmi Precision Screws and ATF.
Beach joined ATF with 25 years in fastener sales, including Camcar/Textron Fastening Systems and most recently North American vice president for sales & markets at Acument Global Technologies.
Don Surber was chairman of the Industrial Fasteners Institute for 1984-85 and 1997-98; McLean was chair 2006-07 and Beech 2007-08.
Dyer had been director of operations since 1999. Since joining ATF in 1985 Dyer also has held inside sales, production control and plant manager positions.
Claus joined ATF in 1988 and held positions of application engineer, engineering manager, director of quality, director of new business development and general manager of ATF Integrated Components.
Glazier joined ATF in 2006 as CFO. He has 25 years experience in accounting finance and operations in manufacturing. He is a member of the EJOT-ATF advisory board and a member of ATF’s compensation and administrative committees.
Founded in 1948 as a supplier of surplus World War II military fasteners, today ATF designs and manufactures tight tolerance cold-formed and machined components, assemblies and engineered fasteners for complex, safety-critical and high tech applications in the automotive, aerospace, heavy-duty truck engine and other industrial markets. ATF is headquartered at 3550 W. Pratt Ave., Lincolnwood, IL 60712. Tel: 847 677-1300 Fax 847 677-9335 ©2009/2012 Fastener Industry News
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