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It's that time of year again – when most larger distributors are reporting their annual sales and providing updates on initiatives they pursued throughout 2010.
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To grow sales to federal, state and local governments, Fastenal created a new position in 2010 – the vice president of government sales. According to Fastenal's annual report, the position initially focused on state and local government. President and CEO Will Oberton wrote that much of the purchasing for state and local governments is driven through purchasing cooperatives that work with states to leverage their buying power and help smaller entities save. So the distributor's government sales team focused in the past year on meeting with these state purchasing agencies and cooperatives to win new business.
Another hot area for Fastenal is industrial vending through its Fastenal Automated Supply Technology (FAST) program, which Oberton said took off in 2010. "The program was designed to be extremely cost-effective for customers, in turn creating new opportunities for our stores," Oberton wrote. "And in fact we're now seeing exceptional growth at customer sites where FAST 5000 machines are placed. In my opinion, this will be a big part of the future of industrial supply, and it will become an increasingly important part of our business in 2011 and beyond."
And finally, the distributor created a customer research group in late 2009, which interviewed nearly 20,000 customers throughout 2010, focused on learning how Fastenal's customers view the distributor's services, strengths and weaknesses. The group took what was learned and created a list of customer service standards. They turned it into a book – named The Little Blue Book of Customer Service – that was printed and distributed to every employee.