Fastenal grew to more than 2,600 branches worldwide by believing in its people and uniting leaders on what needed to be accomplished, says founder Bob Kierlin. Thursday, the company reported profit of $168.8 million on revenue of $1.23 billion for the fourth quarter.
Suppliers can build a strong business case for customers by highlighting their unique attributes such as speed or affordability, Bill McCleave writes. He lists several attributes and notes the differences between process and product quality.
Distributors can win over electrical contractors by offering value-added services such as technical knowledge and kitting services that reduce costs without sacrificing quality, Bridget McCrea writes. "Not every order that we write has a valued-added opportunity, but on some of our larger projects our distributors have definitely saved us money while also strengthening our relationships with them," says Gary Misicka, president of Lyons & Pinner Electric.
US tariffs on aluminum imports and Chinese restrictions on scrap imports have created business for aluminum recyclers who can process scrap into new metal. Aluminum composed of recycled scrap had never been the majority of the US market until 2018, according to data analyzed by Harbor Aluminum Intelligence Unit.
Used-car auction site BacklotCars has raised $8 million in its Series A funding round. The company buys its cars mostly from franchised car dealers and says it has over $100 million in annualized transaction volume.
US manufacturing production grew by 1.1% last month and an upwardly revised 0.1% for November, according to Federal Reserve data. Automotive production was up 4.7% for December.
Business-to-business manufacturers have had to prioritize acquiring customers as supply relationships become more fragile, writes Randy Woods. Marketing automation, sales enablement and content publishing are some of the ways companies can optimize to reach those clients.
A focus on buy-in from executives combined with front-line insight can help manufacturers successfully implement industrial internet of things projects, writes Derek Chin, director of innovation strategy at Nerdery. "Before jumping into a solution, evaluate whether it solves the correct problem and achieves the desired results," he writes.
Manufacturers should consider flexible hours, the ability to trade shifts, shorter workweeks, floating holidays and other options to help employees with work-life balance, writes Chris Lennon of BirdDogHR. A Mercer study suggests about half of manufacturing employees want more flexibility, but that few HR leaders can say they've provided it.
Military veterans tend to be selfless, fast learners, team players and suited for leadership -- all important attributes for manufacturing roles, says CNC Machines CEO Curt Doherty. "As long as you give them a clear mission and what their job title is, make sure they have the right training and support, they tend to be very self-sufficient," he says.
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