Global Fastener News

2011 FIN – Witucki: Manufacturing Jobs Create More Related Jobs

April 16
00:00 2013

October 25, 2011 FIN – The number one issue for the United States and the fastener industry is jobs, Jim Witucki of Nucor Fastener Division told the fastener industry.

Manufacturing creates more jobs than the restaurant and bar service industries, Witucki pointed out. The 14.3 million U.S. manufacturing jobs create 44 million jobs.
Speaking as one of four panelists at the “State of the U.S. Fastener Industry” program presented by the National Industrial Fastener & Mill Supply Expo in Las Vegas, Witucki noted the U.S. has lost six million manufacturing jobs in the past decade.
The main economic issue facing the U.S. is reducing unemployment, “and part of the unemployment issue is the demise of our manufacturing sector and its importance to the U.S. economy.”
“Manufacturing job losses can no longer be ignored,” Witucki said. “Foreign countries have an incentive to maintain the trend by whatever means we allow.”
The manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy is the fifth largest economy globally. It consumes more than 60% of R&D in the U.S.
“Some studies suggest the manufacturing sector’s jobs create, influence or require the existence of an additional 30 million jobs in support of all that manufacturing does,” Witucki noted.
Manufacturing creates more than three times the jobs than the retail sector does.
Witucki asked U.S. fastener buyers to consider the benefits of buying domestic fasteners. He cited quality, cash flow, after sale support, no currency fluctuation, engineering services, lower minimums, lower inventories, reduced risk of supply disruptions, emergency support and ease of communication.
Witucki advised the industry to “sell value, not price.”
He suggested the industry needs to “understand your costs and price accordingly; know what you do well and maintain your focus on your niche; don’t try to sell everyone; align with quality, stable supply chain partners; and take care of your customers.”
“At the end of the day, all of us are responsible for making money for our company,” Witucki pointed out. “Maintain a profit motive.”
In 2009, Nucor Fastener sought antidumping duties on many imported fasteners through the International Trade Commission.
The ITC rejected Nucor’s petition, but Nucor appealed, and in September the U.S. Court of International Trade sent the case back to the ITC for review. The ITC is due to respond by December 7.
Witucki described the case as a “free vs. fair trade” issue.
International commerce needs to follow rules-based trading, he said in reference to the Nucor tariff challenge. “Enforce those rules.”
Despite the widespread belief that low cost labor is in Asia, “some of the most productive workers are here,” Witucki said.
In 2010, Norway and the United States had the highest GDP per hour worked, followed by Belgium.
“We are an efficient, productive workforce,” Witucki proclaimed.
“Because of the United States’ high productivity, we can successfully compete with many of the ‘low labor cost countries’.”
Sullivan: Opportunities in Our Backyards
“We’ve been down this road before,” fastener manufacturer Jim Sullivan said of the tough economy.
Panelist Sullivan recalled that just after 9/11 the economy slid and “imports were flooding our shores.”
But as Sullivan, the national sales manager for Chicago Hardware & Fixture Co., pointed out, “we’re here, we’re tougher and we’re surviving.”
Sullivan termed globalization both a “challenge and opportunity.”
Manufacturers have work to do within the U.S., Sullivan pointed out. “Our largest market is here,” Sullivan said.
He noted the weak U.S. dollar has helped domestic manufacturers compete with imports.
The future belongs to those investing in technology, equipment and people, Sullivan predicted.
Most U.S. fastener manufacturers “have gone to the center of the box” to find customers, but Sullivan recommended they “check the corners of the box. There are opportunities right in our backyards.”

Ruetz: Focus on the Value You Add
Small businesses are the “real job creators,” rather than the Big 3 and government, distributor Jim Ruetz said.
Ruetz, president of Wisconsin-based All Fasteners Inc., advocated developing “a strong relationship with your supplier base” as vital to adding value as a distributor.
By working with their suppliers, distributors can reduce supply chain costs for customers and thus add value to their distribution services, Ruetz explained.
“Focus on your value proposition and you will continue to grow.”
Be prepared to do more business globally, Reutz said.
“Your U.S. and Canadian customers will be manufacturing in Mexico or Europe or China. Be ready to take your VMI or other programs overseas,” Ruetz said.
All Fasteners has partners in North America, Asia and Europe to supply customers.
“Get in position so you can compete globally,” Ruetz advised.
Distributors need to use technology, Ruetz emphasized.
“IT should not be a box over in the corner that keeps sucking money.” It is a tool, he said.

Smith: Diverse Lines, Longevity Important to Reps
For reps, a key to success is having diverse lines, panelist Mike Smith said.
“It allows us to weather the ups and downs,” observed Smith, a 41-year veteran of the fastener industry.
Smith Associates Inc., a New Jersey-based rep firm, has that level of diversity. Among his current 23 clients are washer manufacturer Prestige Stamping, cable tie supplier ACT Fastenering Solutions and coating specialist Nylok Corporation. All offer different products or services.
Smith, who founded the rep firm in 1982, finds longevity helps in sales relationships. Years of working together gives a rep “clout to work with.”
But even with longevity, reps must keep on top of the market.
“We must embrace change,” Smith advised.
Smith acknowledged a “shrinking manufacturing market” and added “imports are very tough,” but added that there still have to be companies making products such as toasters and cars and someone has to be supplying fasteners.
Smith predicted improved sales over the next six months, a growing economy a year from now and new growth five years ahead.
Among the challenges for reps is the “erosion of commissions.” He defended 5% commissions as “economical, efficient and cost effective.” Reps are less costly than full-time sales staff, he suggested.
Smith noted the consolidation of distributors over more than a decade and said that is changing the business for reps. Instead of many distributors scattered over their geographic territories, with larger distributors more of the buying may be out of “Cleveland or Florida.” ©2011 ©2011/2013 Fastener Industry News.
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