Recommended Reading: MDM’s Conversation with a ‘Fastener Rat’

Marc Strandquist, the recently appointed president and CEO of Optimas OE Solutions LLC, has been in the fasteners industry his entire professional career. He spoke with MDM about his path, his new company and his outlook for the industry.
Packer Fastener

If a “gym rat” is an exercise addict and a “river rat” is a paddling bum, then what the heck is a “fastener rat”?

Apparently, it’s someone who has spent their whole life in the fasteners industry, who lives, breathes, eats and sleeps the fasteners life.

And Marc Strandquist, the recently appointed president and CEO of fasters manufacturer and distributor Optimas OE Solutions LLC, is a dyed-in-the-wool — or, perhaps, forged-in-the-steel — fastener rat.

Strandquist has not only spent his entire career in the industry, but he loves talking shop, whether it’s about the freshest product innovations, the latest selling techniques or the newest macro trends driving the business forward.

After joining Optimas in January as president of the company’s Americas division, Strandquist spent most of 2020 being groomed for the top spot by the company’s private equity owner, American Industrial Partners, and one of its leaders, TJ Rosengarth, who served as interim CEO for about a year before Strandquist’s appointment.

Marc Strandquist Optimas

Strandquist, pictured right, whose resume also includes a term as president of the National Fastener Distributors Association, told MDM: “I’m not saying fastener people are smarter than anybody else, but our business is unique, and you need to understand the nuances of it. The ability to look out strategically and develop a plan for the next three years was a perfect fit. And I’m having a ball with it.”

Strandquist spoke with MDM for the Dec. 10 issue of MDM Premium. (If you’re not a subscriber, click here now for access to this article and much more.)

In the Q&A, An Industry Deep Dive with Optimas Solutions CEO Marc Strandquist, he dished on his career path, what’s happening at his company and his outlook for the fasteners industry.

On the topic of how he’s been working to influence the culture at Optimas — whose previous CEO was not a longtime fasteners exec, Strandquist said:

“I believe that people want to be proud of the companies they work for and they want to follow the guy on the white horse. They want to be a part of something special. They don’t want a leader who only says, ‘Well, you guys didn’t make enough money, so why aren’t you doing this and why aren’t you doing that?’ If all they heard for several years was that they weren’t satisfactory, that’s a tough thing. A lot of what we’ve been doing since I joined Optimas is re-establishing a culture of winning, re-establishing a sense of pride.”

As a platform company for AIP, Optimas is well-positioned to add assets to its portfolio, and Strandquist said he fully expects the firm to become acquisitive once COVID-19 has subsided and the company completes its expected new financing structure. Here’s what he said about M&A for the business in 2021:

“AIP is interested in further acquisitions. But this year, between the restructuring and then COVID, no one’s been too excited about doing anything. I would think next year you would see us do one or two small to medium acquisitions — companies that would help us improve our geography or product offering or that get us into a market we’re not in today. Right now, we’re focused on finishing out the year strong, completing our IT upgrades, getting our refinancing complete by Dec. 30. After that, we’ll see what the new year brings.

Strandquist has big goals for Optimas. He outlined some of the specifics for the company, which finds itself with a new PPE distribution center in St. Louis and a healthier-than-expected fasteners marketplace. Of Optimas’ long-term goals, he said this:

“In three years, I’d like to increase the size of the company by 50%. Currently, the post-COVID level is we’re roughly $55 million, $60 million a month in terms of sales. We’re not back to 100% of the pre-COVID levels, but we’ve made all our changes and we’re profitable. When you look at Optimas — and I know a lot of CEOs blow a lot of sales gas and talk about what they would like to do — what I’m most proud of is talking about what we have done. I love talking about our team and what they’ve accomplished.”

Click here to read the entire interview, including Strandquist’s comments on how Optimas has navigated COVID-19 as well as the company’s domestic and international market opportunities. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today to MDM Premium for this article and much more.

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