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2017 Top 40 Industrial Distributors

05. The Fastenal Company - Top Industrial Distributors

Company Profile

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Headquarters: Winona, MN
2016 Revenues: $4 billion
Change in Sales from 2015: 2.4%
Employees: 20,083
Locations: 2,503
Key Executives: Daniel L. Florness, president & CEO; Holden Lewis, vice president & CFO

A "disappointing" 2015 was followed by a "tough" 2016 for Fastenal. Of the company's top 100 customers, nearly a third reported sales contraction of more than 10 percent. "Our success directly relates to our customers' success," wrote President and CEO Dan Florness in the company's 2016 letter to shareholders. As a result, the company simplified its aspirations for 2017: "We plan to grow our sales and our earnings."

Fastenal opened 40 new stores in 2016 – a relatively low number for the industrial distributor – but it also closed 144 locations, leaving it with a net reduction of 119 stores for the year.

Vending installations, a key part of Fastenal's customer service strategy, fell short of expectations announced earlier in the year. Vending machines increased 13.2 percent to 62,822 vending machines from year-end 2015, a three-year high. And the first quarter of 2017 was the best quarter in four years for its FAST Solutions machines.

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