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 Subject : Personal History, by Hank Schaffner, Hank Schaffner Associates.. 10/27/2011 04:23:19 PM 
Hank Schaffner
Posts: 1

I began my career in 1956 with U.S. Steel for 3 years before leaving and joining S.P.S (Standard Pressed Steel) in the fastener industry. From my point of view, I will give you an idea as to how the fastener industry has come into its own over the years.

Let's take S.P.S for example. In the old days, all the manufacturing plants, machine shops, etc. used overhead shafting to transmit power. Belts were run from the overhead shaft to the piece of machinery being used. The problem was that the overhead shafting was supported by the ceiling of the plant with cast iron hangers. Since cast iron was quite susceptible to breakage, this left the plants in a vulnerable position of being shut down when a hanger broke or shattered under power. These disruptions were frequent and costly to the plants, until Mr. Howard T. Hallowell designed a hanger from pressed steel which couldn't break or shatter under power. He formed Standard Pressed Steel Company on January 19, 1903.

The company grew, especially during World War I. Companies like Pratt & Whitney, Winchester Repeating Arms and other munitions and firearm manufacturers began using pressed steel hangers so their war production wouldn't be slowed by breakdowns.

Later, S.P.S. began manufacturing shaft collars, and then the hollow set screw that tightened the collar to the shaft. From there came the socket head cap screw, with knurling on the outside of the head so the screw wouldn't slip when gripped by machinist’s greasy fingers. So from overhead pressed steel shafts and collars with set screws grew an enormous socket screw industry.

As time went on, the shape of the pressed steel shaft, when turned upside down, provided the bent metal legs for work benches. Thus grew the Hallowell shop equipment. During World War II, the steel work benches were sold by the mile to the war production shops producing tanks and armament in Detroit, Michigan. So you can see, from one idea grew an enormous industry.

Now, I'll give you a little background on distribution. In my early years in the business, (late 50's), the general mill supply houses were the main distributors of all kinds of products. They sold buckets, brooms, shovels, tools, drills, power tools, nuts & bolts and just about anything needed in the industry. Two very large general mill supply houses that I knew personally were Ducommun in Los Angeles, and Shadbolt & Boyd in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As time evolved, people left these big companies and formed key line specialty houses. These were small distributors selling in a niche such as drills, taps, tool & die equipment and power tools. There were some fasteners sold that related to the products they stocked. Then came the fastener specialist. This distributor sold and stocked only fasteners of all types. EVOLUTION not REVOLUTION has changed the means of doing business over the last 35-40 years.

Now a little dialog on salesmen, training and reviews. When I started with S.P.S., I was sent to the main plant in Jenkinstown, Pennsylvania for 8 solid weeks of training. Each week we were tested on what we studied, to determine if more training was necessary to insure that we were proficient in what we were taught. At the end of our 8 weeks, we went on the road with the senior salesman in the company, to better learn how to promote our lines. Then each year, we went back for a one-week review, which included new product training, as well as reviews. In my opinion, this was the best way to train and put qualified sales people on the road. Today I am disappointed with the lack of training that companies give their outside salesmen, compared to what it used to be. Of course many companies really cannot afford to do and train today, what was done years ago. However, I see many companies giving a new salesman a catalog to study, territory maps, names of companies to call on and then saying to them "study this catalog and if you have any questions, please call us".

This, in my opinion, is not the way to run a ship. We seem to have lost a lot of the expertise that was so prevalent in years past. I believe we need to get back to the basics in our industry and learn how to sell products from quality, engineering knowledge, and manufacturing know-how, rather than price alone. We need more good, factory training for our young people in this industry.

I have been in the fastener industry since 1959. My affiliations were with SPS Company, Allen Manufacturing Company, and Titan Fasteners, where my responsibilities were general sales manager, director of marketing, and president, respectively. In 1977 I became a manufacturers' agent, selling the lines I represent to fastener distributors. Before starting Hank Schaffner Associates, all my previous experience had been selling and servicing distributors. I understand distributors very well and know what is required to have a strong manufacturer/distributor relationship.

Hank Schaffner

Hank Schaffner Associates
16862 Harkness Circle
Huntington Beach, California 92649
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