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Obama Tours Cardinal Fastener Plant Enroute to Inauguration

March 01
00:00 2009


Obama: This is a good-looking bolt.
As production manager Brandon “Smokey” Delafosse introduced U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to the crowd of workers, relatives and reporters gathered at Cardinal Fastener, he presented Obama with a 2 1/4 – 4.5 x 17 A193 B7 heavy hex bolt with 2H heavy hex nut.

“This is a good-looking bolt,” Obama stated, gripping the polished seventeen-inch fastener used in wind turbines.

The inscription read: “Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co. welcomes President Barack Obama and his support of a New Energy for America, January 16, 2009.”

Two identical hex bolts were onstage. Cardinal president John Grabner gave one to Obama and asked him to sign the second bolt for Cardinal to keep. Grabner pronounced the autographed Cardinal bolt “the most valuable bolt in the world.”

Obama embraced the lighthearted moment, saying “I want to thank Smokey for not dropping that bolt on my toe.”

On the verge of leaving the factory following his remarks about Cardinal Fastener and the U.S. economy, Obama pivoted suddenly and jogged back to the podium, saying “I almost forgot my bolt.”

Lifting it from the floor, Obama gripped the twenty-five pound fastener like a dumbbell, performing a few biceps curls to laughter and applause.

Obama handed the bolt off to an assistant before clasping Delafosse’s hand at chest level and giving the production manager a “shoulder bump” as he left the room.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama visited Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Co. Inc. in Ohio on January 16, 2009, to promote his administration’s economic revival plan, just four days before being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States.

In opening remarks, Obama praised Cardinal president John Grabner and his family for Cardinal’s focus on clean energy markets. “(The Grabners) exemplify what’s at the core of the American spirit,” Obama declared, noting that fasteners made by Cardinal help hold together both the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge.

“In some ways, I can’t think of a more iconic company than Cardinal Fastener,” Obama commented.

“The story of this company – which began building wind turbine parts just two years ago and is now poised to make half its earnings that way – is that a renewable-energy economy isn’t some pie-in-the-sky, far-off future,” Obama stated from the floor of the 95,000 sq ft factory. “It’s happening all across America right now. It’s providing alternatives to foreign oil now. It can create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries if we act right now.”

Obama’s visit was historic for the fastener industry.

Obama praised Cardinal Fastener for its ability to add two new employees at a time of deep recession in the U.S.

“The need for us to act is now. It’s never been more urgent,” Obama asserted, turning his attention to the U.S. economy, which shed 2.6 million jobs last year, including 500,000 in December. “The first job of my administration is to create jobs and put people back to work.”

The visit to Cardinal Fastener was the first of several campaign-style events that Obama plans in his effort to win broad public support for his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The plan, which could total as much as $1 trillion by the time it reaches the Senate, aims to create nearly half a million American jobs by investing in clean energy like wind power, with an overall goal of saving or creating up to 4 million jobs with 90% in the private sector.

“We’re not looking to create just any kind of jobs here,” Obama explained. “We’re looking to create good jobs that pay well and won’t be shipped overseas. Jobs that don’t just put people to work in the short-term, but position our economy to be on the cutting edge in the long-term. That starts with new, clean sources of energy.”

Obama kept the focus on the tangible benefits of public investments in clean energy technology. “Here at Cardinal Fastener that could mean going from 50% capacity to 90% capacity,” Obama forecasted.

While warning that the economic crisis could deepen before it improves, Obama remained optimistic. “If anyone doubts that we can dig ourselves out of this hole, I invite them to come here to Ohio and look at what you’ve done at Cardinal Fastener,” Obama asserted.

Prior to his remarks, Obama donned protective goggles and toured the facility, stopping at several workstations to watch demonstrations of the manufacturing process for the large bolts used to fasten together wind turbines.

In a written statement, Obama’s office called Cardinal Fastener “a growing company with innovative production practices.”

Introducing Obama, Grabner said Cardinal Fastener’s foray into the wind turbine market began two years ago with a single phone call from a turbine manufacturer. “I didn’t even know what a wind turbine was,” Grabner explained.

Cardinal Fastener eventually created a wind power division in 2008 to address “explosive” sales growth of fasteners for the wind turbine industry. Wind customers now account for about 20% of Cardinal Fastener’s business.

“Our company is receiving orders for products to be manufactured with very fast lead times – often as short as days,” Grabner explained at the time. “Once we prove our product quality and our company service, we are getting the opportunity to become the regular supply chain vendor.”

The new division is staffed by three people dedicated to wind turbine customers, with another seven people spending much of their time on this segment of the supply chain.

Grabner is industrial division chair of the Industrial Fasteners Institute. He also served as associate chair of the National Fastener Distributors Association from 1995-96.

Founded in 1983, Bedford Heights, OH-based Cardinal Fastener manufactures hot forged bolts, fasteners and related products for the construction, heavy equipment, power generation, oil and wind turbines industries.

Related Links:

• Cardinal Fastener

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