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Started 50 Years Ago, Copper State Has Grown to 30 Branches in 8 States

Started 50 Years Ago, Copper State Has Grown to 30 Branches in 8 States
December 02
00:21 2022

Copper State Bolt & Nut Co.’s growth over the past half century has been created by customers, CEO Sarah Shannon reflected on the company’s 50th anniversary during 2022.

While multiple fastener corporations have grown via acquisitions, Copper State has reached 30 branches in eight western states through its “customer focus,” Shannon said.

“Our customers created opportunities,” Shannon explained.  The company’s geographic footprint now throughout the western U.S. has been “almost all organic growth.”  

“Yes, a few small acquisitions where it wasn’t us reaching out,” she acknowledged.

Copper State’s mission statement declares: “We have to be first choice with our customers.”


Martin Calfee started in the fastener industry in 1968 with Lamson & Sessions in Arizona before being transferred to Hayward, CA.  By 1972, Lamson & Sessions was selling off its distribution centers and Calfee became a sole proprietor in Phoenix.  He opened with six employees and a 6,000 sq ft warehouse.

After initially distributing fasteners to the mining market, Copper State branched into producing fasteners when Calfee bought a property on 34th Avenue in Phoenix to begin manufacturing bolts.

From the beginning, Calfee sought to operate a “best in class” strategy with manufacturing.  He also emphasized connections with suppliers.

“He always had a pen to take orders,” Shannon said.

As Copper State grew, it took an industry role.  Calfee was one of the founders and initial board members of the Western Association of Fastener Distributors in 1982.

Gigi Linsalata described the value of association participation as “relationships. Connections. Talking to other distributors.”

“It is the relationship,” Linsalata found.

Linsalata and Shannon started attending WAFD (now Pacific-West Fastener Association) with their father.  Linsalata was elected to the Pac-West board, which created more business relationships.

Attending as a distributor, Linsalata said “every one of our key suppliers are there” and establishing relationships means: “I can call them.”  She and other distributors know each other and can pickup the phone and call each other.

Always known as a “colorful character,” today at age 85 Calfee holds a “mentor / advisor” role and himself takes the “self-appointed chairman of customer complaints” role.  The company is owned by his five daughters – with Shannon and Linsalata working for the company.

Even when Calfee heads north for summers in Montana, he remains in contact.  

“He does call,” Shannon said.  “And you’d better know your stuff.”

When Shannon took over as CEO, she acknowledged finding herself under a “large shadow” cast by her father.  

“I had an act to follow!” she said.

Today, beyond serving customers, “We love doing what we do,” Shannon said. That is a “foundation of the whole business.”

The entire staff of 500 is “focused on the right things,” Shannon said.

Looking ahead, Shannon said Martin Calfee set up Copper State for the future.

“My dad has protected the company by reinvesting in a long term model,” she said.

Next?  Shannon said Copper State “is constantly evolving.”  The company operates under a “culture of empowerment given to the team.”  Team members are prepared “to call the next play on their own.”  They know boundaries, but ultimately they are all “in pursuit of meeting customer needs.”

Copper State Bolt & Nut distributes fasteners for the construction, mining, energy, municipalities and steel fabrication industries.  Copper State is headquartered at 3602 N 35th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85017-4408.  Tel: 602 272-2384  Web:


See article in Fastener History section of

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