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 Subject : Personal History, by Bill Hayes, Hawaii Nut & Bolt.. 10/27/2011 04:04:50 PM 



Ok, you win. The “doesn’t need to be typewritten” got me off my butt.

The following is a brief overview of 25 years that sometimes only seem like 125. Lots of water under the bride and lots of changes. This could have very easily gone to 300 pages but the only person who would read it (or want to) is Mom.

Hopefully, the industry newcomer will be able to get a feel of how some of our industry changes may have begun. My perceptions are based solely upon my personal impressions and experiences in business.*

“What the f--- do you want? ” were the first words I heard as I entered the fastener business. That should have been enough of a warning but I jumped in anyway. I should have taken heed!

That was 25 years ago in San Diego as I joined the “industry” at the very bottom of “entry level.”

My first task was to package 50# of ¼-6 brass flat washers into 1# boxes. Later that first day, I remember filling a half-full ¼-20 nut bin with a full keg of ¼-28 nuts. What a way to start a new job!

That was during the era when mill supply houses were closing and various product “specialists” were beginning to capture the market. The one-stop-shops were dying on the vine and the smaller, more flexible companies were having a field day.

At about this same time, the larger bolt manufacturers (mostly owned by the huge steel mills) began to sort out their distribution channels. You had to buy a pre-established number of pounds (not dollars) during each year to remain on the “approved customer” lists for the next year.

Coincidentally, foreign manufacturers were improving their quality and production quantities. Imports were quickly coming on the scene to fill some of the gaps created by the “domestic” marketing policies.

The price of steel and labor helped increase the price differential between the U.S. and “off shore” fasteners. Then along came wage and price controls in the U.S. (courtesy of President Nixon), and the shortages began.

With fasteners being on the lower end of the product-profit scale for the big U.S. mills, many standard items were not being made domestically. This helped to further open the door to imported bolts, nuts, and screws.

One major U.S. manufacturer drastically slashed its distributor customer list (I’m told by approximately 90%) and refused to sell anything to many distributors, not even to many who had been buying from them for years.

Unknowingly to me at the time, the best boost for my own company occurred during this business phase. My employer put a sign on the front door that read “Closed, filling back orders only.” The door was locked and all but the best customers, biggest users, and quickest payers were turned away to find their needs elsewhere.

Shortages were the norm and when price controls were relaxed, costs skyrocketed. What a field day for the astute distributor. If you could find it, you could sell it. No prices or questions asked.

On October 6, 1976, I was fired for “personality conflict.” Little did I know that this devastating blow was really a blessing in disguise. After being in San Diego and in the fastener business for over five and a half years, I was enjoying both and didn’t care to leave either.

At the time, there were only six specialized fastener distributors in San Diego. They were by commodity:

1) “Associated Products” – Construction hardware
2) “Equality Screw” – Cabinet & counter top screws
3) “Hanson Motor Supply” – Automotive products
4) “Pell Mell Supply” – Marine & industrial fasteners
5) “United Fastener” – Blind rivets & common screws
6) “Western Fastener” – Electronic & military fastenings

With all options considered, cash from the sale of my 1959 classic Corvette, and the second mortgage that the bank would fund, so was born “Hayes Bolt & Supply.” My friend Suzanne Dukes (from “Western Fastener”), joined this new company before the first sale had been made, and we never looked back.

Many of those who had been turned away during the tight times (“Closed, filling back orders only”) rushed to the front door of the new kids on the block. It was very gratifying to experience such support from so many old friends. Suzanne also had many loyal customers to follow her to “Hayes Bolt.”

I’m pleased and proud to say that my first employee, Suzanne, was able to buy me out on August 24, 1984 and continues to operate as owner.

“Hawaii Nut & Bolt” was created in late 1979 with the first sale in March of 1980. This “new” company kept me involved in the fastener industry as I migrated to “Alohaland.” With the helpful support of many valued suppliers, H.N. & B. holds a major position in the fastener market in our fiftieth state.

My son, William III, has been growing at Hawaii Nut & Bolt for ten years now and is currently holding the reins as general manager. Passing some of the administrative responsibility has given “Pops” the opportunity to play a bit and given time to explore new adventures.

A new entity in the marketplace, “Precious Screw” was launched in September 1995; a fastener jewelry manufacturing company specializing in 14k gold and sterling silver motif designs. Profit is a long ways away, but it’s fun in the meantime and keeps me in the industry.

The biggest challenge during my fastener career has been “Mission Impossible: The Fastener Quality Act.” This great American debacle lifted it’s ugly head over ten years ago (see 7/31/86 letter attached) and continues ‘til this day. Hopefully, the end is near!?!?!?!?

I had been attempting to bring the attention of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard to the incorrect and untested items they were buying and receiving since 1982. When Congressman John Dingell began his vigilant crusade via Steve Sims, I also became involved.

I have vivid memories of my telephone conversations with Larry Stanley and Doris Johnson while Irene and I were attending the W.A.F.D. Conference at “Kananaskis.” Instead of flying home after our meeting, I sent Irene back to Hawaii and I flew to Washington, D.C. to meet Larry, Doris, and a few others. That was the real beginning. We spent two days trying to convince our legislators that the proposed law would not work on daily commerce, as written.

After many, many, many trips and many, many, many dollars we are just about finished!

This extended educational process taught me more about our federal government than I should have learned. However, the experience was far beyond what money could buy.

How many people have the opportunity to affect their own destiny? Let alone meet the president of the United States, work closely with the vice-president’s staff, or confer at length with many of the more influential legislators of our country? I hardly made it to high school graduation!—wow, wow, wow!!

Friendships were made during this time that seem to be lifelong. What great memories this basic industry had given me.

I would like to have a dollar for every time I’ve told people what I do for a living and they look at me with sympathy that I couldn’t find a “real job.”

As we are set to meet in Whitefish, Montana, I reflect on all that Senator Barns has done for our cause. Because of his refusal to back down due to pressure from his peers, we are going to be able to maintain a reasonable business environment with the guarantee of quality products to sell to our customers. The U.S. consumer will have the assurance that his/her products will be held together with good bolts; and with the good advice of Senator Burns, my grand-children’s grand-children will enjoy a piece of the world (Eureka, Montana) that will be unspoiled by some of those uglies that attack our cities.

Thank God for the fastener industry! How else could the “least likely to succeed” experience the world?

Now to the real basics: Thank you, Vickie Lester, for your undying belief, support, above and beyond the call-of-duty, and tenacity to the max. The “FQA” would be a disaster if you had not helped guide the W.A.F.D., other industry associations, and the Fastener Industry Coalition on the long road to socution. I, your associations, and the fastener industry appreciate you. Again, thanks mucho!

*basic disclaimer
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Last Edited On: 05/03/2013 06:44:16 AM By
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