Industrial Fasteners Institute : "Fastening A Career"

“Fasteners. They come in all sizes and shapes. Some are quite small and relatively simple. Others are much larger and more complex in design and application. All of them play a very important role in the control and operation of a variety of industrial equipment. Automotive parts for every conceivable design of automobile and truck and all are part of the most sophisticated aircraft. How important are these fasteners many so small and hidden that you’re never aware of them?”

“When I’m on an airplane and stuff and there’s people sitting next to me and we get into conversations and they find out that we make fasteners that hold these aircraft together, it generates a lot of opportunity for conversation and discussion. These fasteners fail up there, these aircraft become in jeopardy as well as everybody on the plane. 

“Bill is one of many people around the country who have built a successful career in the fastener industry. We’ll talk to others and find out about the many advantages of a job in the fastener industry.”

“Midwest Fabricating is located in the small town of Amanda, Ohio. It’s been in that location for 65 years. Jennifer Johns Freeole is midwest president. Her grandfather started the business and she’s the third generation to put her stamp on it.”

“We compete everywhere in the world with people that have different pay structures and different benefit structures. You can have all the equipment you want but if you don’t have the skilled, trained, committed people which we have been blessed to have, you don’t have anything.”

“Mike Rudder is one of those committed workers. He came to Midwest Fabricating from a temp service, started as a press operator, and worked himself up to a department supervisor.”

“I’ve been here 18 years. I know people that’s been here 30, 39 years, even longer. We mainly do a lot of cold forming steel and that in itself is amazing to see what you can do with a piece of steel without heating it up. The department I work in now is a little more technologically advanced so I’ve been able to have additional training outside of here. I’ve traveled to Europe. I’ve been to multiple countries overseas to learn more about my job. So you always have the opportunity to advance and to me that sets my goal for a long-term career here.”

“Luke Starner came to Midwest Fabricating shortly after graduating from college. He’s a tooling engineer. He can’t match Mike Rudder’s seniority but he shares his enthusiasm for the opportunities the company presents.”

“It was a perfect opportunity for me to get my engineering career to a good start. You do work at a computer but you’re also out there on the floor working as a team with everyone else. It’s definitely team oriented right from the beginning with sales, engineering, production. Everyone has a say in bringing in the new part here. Everyone is striving to the same goal which is to get the job done, get it done as fast as possible without affecting the quality of the part at all. It brings a large amount of satisfaction to know that not only are you making the customer happy but you’re making the company that you work for happy.”

“Both of these men as well as many others who work for Midwest Fabricating gain a lot of satisfaction from the work they do, but what has a job in the fastening industry meant outside the in-plant work?”

“I have two daughters. One just started into college, so I’ve been able to help her out with the college.”

“I was able to after college pay off all my debts which is a big thing for me. I ended up buying my dream car, a little red convertible, and I don’t ever plan on leaving here. This place is great.”

“Versailles, Indiana is in the southern part of the state. This is farm country and for more than 50 years the home of Ohio Rod Products of The Elgin Fastener Group. We specialize here in the production of long length, small diameter, headed and threaded fasteners. There are not a lot of companies in the United States that have the capability to manufacture a long small diameter headed part and keep it straight. We offer opportunities in this industry for young people to come in and learn the business.”

“Justin Copeland is one of those young people. He’s been at Ohio Rod for only six months.”

“I had no experience with bolts, and I figured it would be something new. I was wanting a change and they gave me the opportunity and I took it and I’m running with it. Each and every day I learn something new.  I get to work with metal and still work with machinery and I think it’s so neat because you can watch it go from station to station and actually see that being formed and know that hey, you did all that. There’s always an opportunity here to move yourself up in this company. You’ve just got to realize that the opportunity is in front of your face and take it and roll with it. It’s definitely a career path. I can see myself doing this for many many years, maybe even retiring from it.”

“Thirty-seven years ago, Joe Hertz was just out of college and trying to get started in a tough economy.”

“Like most people out of college, I knew very little or nothing about the fastener industry other than the hardware I bought at the local store. My fortune was the fact that I was able to join a company that was small so I had a lot of opportunities to grow as the company grew. We look at markets constantly. We were able to go to Asia and be competitive and of course along with that allowed me to travel to China, travel to Brazil. In my twenties, I had very little, but as I grew with the company so did my lifestyle. My family was able to benefit from that as well.”

“And what about the young trainee? What advantage has he seen from a job in the fastener industry?”

“I recently just purchased a dirt bike. I have an enjoyable life.”

“One of Alcoa Fastening Systems is located in Fullerton, California. This southern California facility is devoted to the development and manufacture of critical parts for thousands of customers worldwide and for every aerospace application, material, and design challenge imaginable. Bill Hart has worked in fastening manufacturing for 37 years. He’s seen a lot of changes in that time.”

“When I first started in ‘72 everything was hand feed. You did a lot of hand work one piece at a time. The environment in the factory has changed considerably. There’s a lot more care and emphasis placed on air quality and the environment in which we ask people to work. It’s a good career for indivduals who are inclined to work with their hands. It’s technical, it keeps you active and moving, and it provides a good living. This job whether it’s been behind a machine or doing the job I do now managing a factory, it’s always presented me with something different, a challenge. I have not ever been bored.”

“Eric Luna has only been in the fastener industry for five years having come to Alcoa from a small CNC job shop. He found other things to like about his new job.”

“The thing I like the most about my job now is probably the fact that it’s very accurate. It’s very precise. The equipment we use is very high-tech and state of the art. It’s a learning experience and I’m learning every day from the older guys. You start from the bottom where I started as an apprentice and I’ve just worked my way up and also it’s just given me a lot of different opportunities to move throughout the company. It’s definitely a career. It’s definitely something that back when I started when I was 19 it might have just been a job back then but now that I’ve grown up a little bit and matured a little bit I can definitely see how this company has really helped me and given me a good foundation to start the rest of my life with.”

“And how has employment at Alcoa Fastening Systems impacted both of these men’s personal lives?”

“It’s given me a starting point which is making the money I need to be self-reliant and independent.”

“I’ve raised my family and provided for them well for 37 years working in this industry.”

“The advantages for a young person or any person getting into this business is that it is a long term career. IFI is involved in training the future generation. We have an arrangement with a group called the Faster Training Institute who have seminars to teach anybody who wants to learn about the terminology, the specifics of fastener manufacturing, fastener design, fastener strength. You cannot live today without fasteners and that goes to the chair you’re sitting on to the computer you’re working at to the car you’re driving to the airplane you’re flying on. People in this industry, industrial, automotive, and aerospace, are making very good salaries and will earn those salaries for the rest of their lives.”

“In a word, how would you describe your career in the fastener industry?”








“Booming industry.”

“I don’t know, I can’t describe it in one word really.”

“Exciting. Challenging. Booming. Dynamic. These are only a few of the words that describe today’s fastener industry. It might be just the place for you to start a career and work toward the long-term success that has been achieved by so many in the fastener industry.”